I opened up Gail Godwin's 2006 novel Queen of the Underworld--a "scantily-clad autobiographical novel set in 1950s Miami," according to Publisher's Weekly--to find this epigraph:

Caminante, no hay camino.
Se hace camino al andar.

--Antonio Machado

which I recognized as the epigraph to another book, Carolyn Forche's 1976 Gathering the Tribes. A list of books or poems that share the same epigraph might be fascinating. Anyone know off-hand of any others?


"5 books of poetry"--#3

Catherine Wagner's Macular Hole (Fence Books, 2004). Here are one and a half poems for a sample--first, the half (the second half of the poem's formatting is beyond my capabilities):

I walked in the house
--Catherine Wagner

I walked in the house
on the flat aspect of the wood
I took rectangular instruction of the wood

when I walked I turned at the wall
and on the flat I moved steadily

unimpeded, not tumbling, climbing, or short of breath.
I walked in ease on the flat.

Something electric charged into our account
and zinged out of it, pre-instructed

and paid for the house. I felt
house on my heel then instep and toe.
I had a bad foot and I paid
to get it fixed so I could walk here.
I paid for the house and I paid for the
foot that touches it. I paid to be
directed rectangularly and down a hall.
I curved my body to direct
my waste through a hole. I am helped
and paying for it.

[next poem]

Kill so we feel safe and comfortable
--Catherine Wagner

This is called Mississippi mash, this kind of kick--leg up,
foot smashed against both sides opponent's head,
or spinneret, foot comes round your body
turning backward fast, and hooks 'em.
Squeezed tight between my legs
so we feel safe and comfortable.
Who's my fucker? Who will be my special fucker?
"5 books of poetry" cont.--

2. Kaia Sand's Interval (Edge, 2004). Edge is Rod Smith's press, and I like it. They also published Heather Fuller's perhaps this is a rescue fantasy (if I had it, I'd probably put it on this list, too--"Sudden Clutter" from that book is one of my favorite poems)

Madrigal for Jules
--Kaia Sand

Who are the egrets we eyed
as we feel searchingly
as we reveal

or who is the egret we mark
as we overturn pages
as we learn

how bookcliff's wonder to be fierce
now we lip salute without loss
gesture struck as we are

as red bougainvillea is kisses
of you [operatic bellows]
and redwood stout redwood sorrow


What is the bookcliff you climbed
as you forage for food
as you store

or what is the bookcliff you left
as you corral the simple
as you touch

how anthelion's seabright to be heard
now you pledge without restraint
aromatic lovely as you are

as a hand becomes a pocket
of you [harvest touch]
and sunflower strong sunflower equinox


When is the seabright we grace
as we daylight briskly
as we tithe

or when is the seabright we bash
as we river our worries
as we eclipse

how Utah's three gossips to be seen
now we candle without petals
barren stunned as we are

as the palimpsest is constructed
of you [farpost caress]
and ashen glovebox ashen beaches


Where are the three gossips they became
as they sigh for you
as they sacrifice

or where are the three gossips they burn
as they shed dominion
as they erode

how cave's mountain to be found
now it's luminous without sunlight
hidden faces as they are

as a candle wills a match
of you [voice of sun]
and trillium tongue trillium open


Why is the mountain we see
as we abacus click
as we arrive

or why is the mountain beyond
as we believe each other
as we disbelieve

how marsh's egrets depart
now we promenade without a stumble
certain as we are

as mesas are an arm's length
of you [aspen quivering]
and sidereal year sidereal awe
There's a "5 books of poetry that haven't really been hugely in the spotlight but that you highly recommend" thing going around. I'll post my 5 over the next day or so, with a representative poem from each. Here's one for tonight:

1. Kathleen Ossip's The Search Engine (APR, 2002)
Here's one asskicking poem--go on, send it to Ma on Mother's Day:

My 20th Century
--Kathleen Ossip

We are having tea and
dobosh torte, my mother
and I, dressed in hobble
skirts and buttoned boots,
in Peacock Alley of the
old Waldorf (She thrives on
luxury.) Hey, Ma, I say,
this Sigmund Freud says neuroses
arise from repressed sexual
fantasies! She clatters her cup
in a kind of trance.

We're having tea and Ritz
crackers, my mother and I,
dressed in chemises, shingled and
bobbed, in the sitting room
of my first apartment. (She's
a little jealous.) Hey,
Ma, I say, Susan Anthony
won! We're getting the vote!
She moves like a brown
bird on a brown branch.

We're having tea--the sugar
is rationed--my mother and
I, wearing trousers and snoods,
in a soldier's canteen. (I'm
her supervisor.) Hey, Ma, I
say, have you seen that
movie about Scarlett O'Hara, the
heroine who proves, once and
for all, that a woman
can be hard as nails
yet loved by millions? She
hefts a widget, not too friendly.

We're having drinks in the
Sputnik Lounge, in daydresses and
ballerina slippers. (She's dating a
pilot.) Hey, Ma, I say,
y'know Rock Hudson, that
actor you like? Well, I just
read in Tittle-Tattle... She
hits a high note like
a wigged castrato.

We're taking spoonfuls of blue-
green algae in the solarium
of the nursing home (I'm
getting tired; her joints are
sprightly.) We're dressed in
leopardskin aerobicwear. Hey,
Ma, I say, there's this
guy who says all religions
derive from a shared mythology.
What do you think? She
swivels and rides
away on her trike.

I'm eating bread and water
alone, naked as the day
I was born. Hey, Ma,
I say, though she's not
around, you won't believe this.
Physicists say that in
addition to a yes and a
no, the universe contains a maybe.
Off in the distance, under the stars,
she moves like a platypus,
neither here nor there.


We do, doodily do, doodily do, doodily do
what we must, muddily must, muddily must, muddily must,
muddily do, muddily do, muddily do, muddily do,
until we bust, bodily bust, bodily bust, bodily bust.

RIP Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (died last night, at age 84)


Reference Question of the Week (to date)

Man: I've been doing some genealogical research, and I found out there was a DIVORCE [shudders] in my family! It was the husband who registered the complaint, but I can't tell what it was for...can you find me a list of the grounds for divorce in 1810 in [state name]?

Me: [looking them up] Uh, adultery...

Man: Oh [looking worried]...I can't imagine she would have done that. No, I don't think so. [Remember, this is not someone he's ever met]

Me: Drunkenness for a period of one year...

Man: No. No, I can't imagine.

Me: Impotence...

Man: But we're talking about a woman.

Me: Says here that, in legal terms, "impotence" can apply to a man or a woman.

Man: Huh.

Me: ...and "felony cruelty."

Man: [looking relieved] I bet that's it! She was CRUEL! [leaves happy]