Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Sublime Words From Lily Herman

When I heard that Lily Herman had a new book, Each Day There Is a Little Love For You In A Book, published by Dryad Press, I immediately connived her into reading at Normal's Books & Records with Adam Shutz and Fitz Fitzgerald.

I figured Adam would be appropriate on the bill since Lily initially blew my mind at an Artichoke Haircut "You're Allowed" reading that he co- hosts. I am a fan of the series and realized I'd never heard Adam read, except for when he read out loud the contents of a bottle of a cleaning product he accidentally drank at a particularly crowded and boisterous night at the Dionysus.

His reading of the various polysyllabic chemicals that went into the concoction that had blued his lips was gripping, especially when he moaned or yowled after a particularly devious sounding lab creation, but it lacked literary meat. At Normal's he read two great excerpts from a novel he is working on and Fitz Fitzgerald read from his "Things To Do In Baltimore" (buy soul swelling books & records at Normal's was indeed included, as was place a tiara on Carabella Sands' head and find Carlajean's missing bag).

Lily read the beautiful poem that awaits you below.

Untitled June 14, 2013

Chief among the things I never
thought I’d do was get my nipples
pierced in a parlor on the main drag
of a small town in Wyoming, which going
by its own standards is a big
city. One of the dorm buildings—
the one across from one of
the taxidermist’s—weighs in as
the state’s tallest building
at nine or so stories, a still point
of the still world. When everything
is small, one small thing
is bigger, and we have worn out
walking in this town, we have tried
the bars for companions, there is
no place to swim unless you want
to brave the pit nicknamed
Stink Lake.
The seagull population
is similarly transplanted, we strain
to figure out what they are doing
landlocked here with
the rest of us, until you discover
one day that their nest is the town
dump, nestled next to the canyon
where bored men like to go
shooting and shout about
You tell me you’d be as avid
in my poems as you are
in my bed if they weren’t all
so concerned with the complexes
of Christmas past. If I hadn’t
documented just so thoroughly
the old fingerprints and phonographs,
the housesitting jobs and homefulness
that can be characteristic of
other people. You want to know
how it was that your unaccredited
nun got drunk with them, went
to bed with them marching
at my request in their
two-by-twos, how I skated through
things then at which I bristle
now. You want
to know what happened to my ease,
and I tell you, it went the way
of my easiness, and that even
properly séanced, you can’t conjure
one without the other. My heart
can be summoned alongside
my pants, but they are sure
to leave the party together
too, hurrah, hurrah.
Chief among the things
I never thought I’d do was
be serious about this
state, long after we lived here
I saw it as the backdrop
for the one-act play of our
success or our doom. Wyoming,
until recently, existed for us
to test ourselves.
Now I see it as it will look
in our absence: How Laramie
is like a tree perpetually falling
to the audience of the emptiest
forest in the lower forty-eight,
and everyone in town swears
that it can anyway be heard.
How they say there is nothing
they need that isn’t already here,
and how if the city leaves you
wanting for anything, the problem
is primarily with you.
But what you need is to be able
to sense, if not see, the ocean, and I
need women who will calmly
reject me if I come onto the wrong
one on our joint behalf, instead of
a place where all the women
who love women are eighty
and live fortified on properties
outside the town’s main postal
code, so that the fires will come
down the mountain and get them
before the pitchforks reaching out
from the city center ever
The last year was the least likely,
your face was nearly impossible
in the first instance of my finding
it, all the men at the wedding
feigning that their collective motive
for leaning on a car was
casualness and not drunkenness,
Chanelle dancing over
to feed you a lily blossom tightly
bound—meant maybe
as an apology, but transformed
by my presence into her
blessing what you and I were about
to eat together, into her
invoking my name for the first
time that I faced you.
I am sorry that my name must be
a flower and not a season, a constellation,
a type of liquor, I am sorry to assume
a sacredness beyond what I myself
have earned, by simple virtue
of my arrangedness, of how well
I can be fit into bouquets and carried
to the summit of either baptisms
or burials.
You shrugged and told all of us, It tastes
like a salad, not trumpeting what
you’d been handed, but not
dismissing it, either.
It was thus that we became the patron
saints of our own travels, but your mother,
afraid we’d be our own martyrs, gave us
a Saint Christopher medal
anyway, and you scoffed, which is
the Catholic education that keeps
on giving, but I told you
the check engine light’s been on
for ten thousand miles, so we can use
all the prayers they’ll spare us.
You assured me that you knew
how to change a tire, and that we needed
no one, and we glanced at the sky
as if to say, Yeah, we’re talking
about you, but still
we drove through Iowa in one
long day to escape the well
in the clouds that seemed
indisputably to be watching us,
and even though it looked
the same over the state
line, we pulled over and went
passively to sleep as soon as we
were in Nebraska. I told myself
that different gods ruled there,
and vowed for the thousandth time
not to argue with any more Christians
who won’t believe that Yahweh was
once one among a council, and that
if they were going to be stringent
about the archives they’d acknowledge
that they were polytheistic majors
with an emphasis on Christ.
But it is often pointed out to me
that I myself have graduated
from nothing, so I steer clear
of them, choosing instead
to recite the same five poems
that I’ve used as home security
for years, that bolster
my inner consumer against
the charms of my inner
salesman. I memorized them
when confronted chronologically
with my fears of death, family,
and rootlessness, but I point out
smugly that I am not afraid
to fly.
I am afraid most, I tell you, of the stretch
of I-25 between Fort Collins, Colorado,
and Denver, riding it at night, I see
the blankness of blackened strip
malls, burned up by darkness, our
smallness increasing with our
diminished proximity to what even
we will reluctantly call a real
city. We are grateful
to return to our reconfigured
ranch town, whose darkness
is the absence of sunlight, of
water or stars, of reflective
surfaces or indeed an image
to reflect, here where
stands for nothing, where they
are literal with their communion
and godful in their use
of every day bread, and we stand
for our final months, two more
monuments sticking up to guide
the lightning west, wondering if
without us it will just breeze through
town without anyone to call it
home by name, without anyone
to hear it fall.

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