Posts Tagged ‘Diane Seuss My first crush was Wild Bill Hickok’

Diane Seuss has an interesting series of prose poems in the Spring 2019 issue of The Missouri Review, starting with “My first crush was Wild Bill Hickok not the actual guy but the guy who portrayed him…” Seuss does a deft job of moving from thought to thought, keeping the poem fresh and interesting as we go. “I was wise enough at age three to know…” then it’s “My mother didn’t hover… Her best friend made a particle-board lid for the crib.” Each line follows closely enough upon the previous one so we feel comfortable following her lead. There’s an independent, amused tone here, rare in poetry and very enjoyable.

The next poem, “His body was barely cold when the suitors swooped in on the young widow, the ground” also maintains a focus on the narrator’s mother. There is again a sort of macabre humor, with the suitors acting in strange ways. “an oval-headed man from across the road with dirty phone calls the night / after the funeral…” and “while his wife was strapped down getting shock treatments…” One gets a sense of the mother as hero, battling to raise her children, to have a worthwhile life. Wonderful poetry.

The next poet is Vanessa Stauffer, who gives us “Queen Anne’s Lace.” “In the meadow across the road… the girl wades / hip-deep in weeds… each fiber makes / a wick or a stem.” Original language to set the scene. “Nights she is afraid of the sky / hollowed cobalt at its center.” It’s a pastoral scene, but not without its strangeness. “Her mother… poses her in the meadow with a flower… so she can take a photograph.” Afternoon turns to evening. “She thinks she sees Mars like a punched hole.” Understated, subtle, intriguing.

The final poet is Zachary Lunn, and the sensibility is wrenchingly different. “In the Lead Humvee on MSR Tampa” begins “There is nothing like / blazing / through sunburnt desert,…” I like the desert itself being sunburnt here. Red, in pain. “…scanning blistered earth for… the thing that will / peel the skin off your / bones.” The scene is real, it’s frightening, it puts us right there. Even the enjambments add to the jumpy feel, the discontinuity. Poetry that’s alive in a terrible way. “You can hear the bomb / whisper your name.” What a surprise that word ‘whisper’ is, and how apt. And the turn to another metaphor is terrifying. “It’s a little like your first love, // the way you know how / things will end…” Important work.

Peace in Poetry,

P M F Johnson

My book of poems, Against The Night, a wry look at a love that builds through a long marriage, is available on Amazon, and at other fine e-retailers.

Related blog posts:

Rattle 64 – Summer 2019

The New Yorker – May 20 2019

The Missouri Review – Winter 2018

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