For My Demons
Obsessively collecting boxes because we’ll move
again eventually no matter what
we may have collected
or what harvest is nearly complete. So much
was left to rot, left behind –
and now, I’m answering the door
in a black lace skirt and there he is – so pale
with his long slender fingers and eyes
only linguists might comprehend. Afterward,
mice surrounded the bed.
I said “sit” and they sat.
“Roll over” and they rolled over.
“Play dead” and they were very convincing.
These revolutionaries are very obedient. Afterward,
they chew through the wires, die for the cause.
When he knocks at my door again, we stare,
aghast, at the ornate brass knocker – we inhabit
this rippling world with a hollow tooth and an endless
lunatic glass pouring riot into the street – synecdoche
spells my name and he has
a box full of angry mice,
brand new and on sale.
Four Addictions for the Film Buff
(director of photography)
Wait in the place of no
understanding, the vision of thunder
like the last meal, like memory’s
grasp: in the long-ago, I was
what could be called
not quite a ghost, more
a rumor lost in editing, exhalation.
He looked in the mirror and could
not walk away. We prefer to remember
him in his finest role:
his self without soul, without
craft. Voice shadow: oh what
do we have here? Close-up. Fade out.
It was really her creation – every
word, each setting but she was
melancholy in a bottle of wine, walking
through a black field bleached with
white stones. When she said: “disappear,”
there was an emptiness that withstood
penetration more perfectly than she had
hoped. She says no.
The director has left the set, this
location was never intended. She curls
up in the gazebo. She watches
the River and her disappointment
follows her to a gravity
well and she falls. Every knife
becomes her fingers asleep
in the false red light. Our
Dana Curtis’s second full-length collection of poetry, Camera Stellata, is now available from CW Books. Her first full-length collection, The Body’s Response to Famine, won the Pavement Saw Press Transcontinental Poetry Prize. She has also published seven chapbooks: Book of Disease (in the magazine, The Chapbook), Antiviolet ( Pudding House Press), Pyromythology (Finishing Line Press), Twilight Dogs (Pudding House Press), Incubus/Succubus (West Town Press), Dissolve (Sarasota Poetry Theatre Press), and Swingset Enthralled (Talent House Press). She has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the McKnight Foundation. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Elixir Press and lives in Denver.
Q: “A rumor lost in editing” from “Four Addictions” – poets know that revision is necessary to pare the work down to its essence, but what is lost as well as gained in the process? Have you edited a poem out of existence?
A: Unfortunately, I have edited poems to death. It’s a fine line between necessary editing and unnecessary surgery. I have never learned, with absolute certainty, how to tell the difference. I like to believe I’m getting better at it. As the poet, it can be almost impossible to truly stand outside a poem and see what’s really there, what it needs and what it does not. A poem is a living thing; it should be treated as such. If you chop off the limbs, you might not be able to put them back again. If you fail to remove the unnecessary aspects, the whole poem can be dragged down. Caution is recommended. Do what has to be done without killing the patient.
Q: Might you share with us some of your favorite films, and why?
A: This is a dangerous question. You really don’t want me to get started – I can go on and on. Regardless, the best film I’ve seen in the last few years is The Dead Girl. He shows what can be accomplished with a nontraditional narrative. Many movies choose to concentrate on the murderer. In The Dead Girl, everything revolves around the dead girl. It’s one stunning piece of filmmaking. I loved David Lynch’s Inland Empire. I am also a big fan of the director, Luis Buñuel. I recently saw Buñuel’s unfinished film, Simon of the Desert which led me to some very interesting and enjoyable research on St. Simeon Stylites. I eventually wrote four poems, one of which is eight pages long, because of that movie. I also love old movies: The Thin Man, Sullivan’s Travels, The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, Casablanca,… There are so many. I love independent films and documentaries. As I said, I can go on and on.
Q: What do you hear on first waking at your house?
A: I hear the birds outside my window, I hear the buses in the street, I hear my dog whining to be let out, I hear my own thoughts scrabbling around the room.