Monday Jun 24

LeBlancGibsonFay--creditMollyHaley Gibson Fay-LeBlanc's first collection of poems, Death of a Ventriloquist, was chosen by Lisa Russ Spaar for the Vassar Miller Prize and published in 2012. The book received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, spent several weeks on the Poetry Foundation’s list of contemporary best-sellers, and was featured by Poets & Writers as one of a dozen debut collections to watch. His poems have appeared in magazines including Guernica, The New Republic, and Tin House as well as on the PBS NewsHour’s Art Beat, and are forthcoming in jubilat, Slice, and The Literary Review.

In the Courtesy Shuttle

First Writers Almanac’s familiar
piano riff then Keilor’s smooth
bass enter the carpeted space
between a lawyer headed to work,
a retired gentleman going home
to fiddle with an engine, send
a letter, fry an egg, and me,
and Garrison is like a piano
player in a restaurant—the men
discuss directions while he rumbles
on pleasantly in the background
about Kerouac’s scroll, Kay Ryan
and trees, and this is it, I think,
the cherry, the apotheosis for poetry:
a poem read beautifully
at drive time so regular folks
like us can talk over it. Maybe
the words we can’t hear between needle
and water slip in, implant deep
in the cortex, the folds we don’t use
because, really, who are we kidding,
a poem is best scribbled in the dark
then the paper ripped up and eaten
in small pieces, a secret the writer
will never forget the feeling of
and so whisper to his young son
in the middle of the night to quiet
him, words the boy will never remember
but that will shape who he will be.


I say poems are good
and still chew this quiet
until it tells me some  
fingers over walks      
buttons, eyebrows, giving
drenched and tired of water
what it wants for skin
bellies—we are so often
deep, our cell cities, our
more, more, T-ball practice,
yet there are still nights
how well our bodies move
transforms our fatigue
tell and laugh and cry

for nothing or just this one
morning so rare, opening
thing beyond rain thrilling
and roofs and grass, tracing
itself so freely, we’re all
even when we know and need
petals, taproots, seedpods,
tired these days, marrow-
papers stacked and asking
playdates, ten books on dinosaurs
late when we remember
together and touch
into a story we tell,
out and sigh over.


photo credit for LeBlanc: Molly Haley