We make the best of what we’ve got. Two tents, a flat piece of land, a nylon hammock that packs down to nearly nothing. We stuff the cooler with ice, but the week-long heat wave stretching across Vermont means we’re careful about opening it too often. One too many times, you say, and everything will go bad. The eggs will hard-boil in their carton, the fat on the bacon will start to crisp.
By the time I finished Dan Lewis’s collection Intimations of the Focal Plane many sections of my journal were scribbled over with citations of snippets from the tome. His words, blazed and blazoned on my pages, had magically transformed each into a focal plane of its own.
I call it the Yeats effect, and sometimes the Chekhov effect or the Elizabeth Bishop or Philip Larkin or Alice Munro effect. To me it represents a standard of literary quality that is widely, even universally, agreed upon.
In 2012, I moved to Vermont. Before making a home in Vermont, I had spent a decade either living full time or summering in the mountains of Colorado. During my time in the Saguache Mountains, I learned the deciduous trees—the quavering aspen and cottonwoods that snow down their seeds. I learned the smell of vanilla comes from ponderosa pine. At one time I could name nearly a hundred Colorado wildflowers. Columbines, lupine, elephant’s head, monk’s hood, death camas, and my favorite, the Gunnison sego lily.
The final line of Julia Shipley’s bio in her magical book of poems, The Academy of Hay, reads, “She is married to one man and six acres in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.” In several of these poems, man and acreage seem to merge in often sexy, always surprising ways…
My friend Mark, home for the holidays a few years after college, told his mother I had started a new job. She brightened and offered her congratulations whenever he saw me again, then looked thoughtful for a moment as if recalling an old address, and asked, “How many jobs has Dave had?”
Along the Iditarod trail, wolf pups steal wooden posts that were planted there to mark the way through the abrupt immenseness of Alaska. The posts become playthings; or they always already were toys to the pups, there for the taking. So Simone Muench approaches her Wolf Centos: She has collected lines and fragments from poems in the world, of 187 writers, and this book is her trove.
5. Everything about the phrase “Ashton Kutcher’s record-setting Twitter following.” Because I have a soul.
As with his previous works, Paine excels in his ability to humanize each of the collection’s characters.
For three voices simultaneously the hidden cost of a ravenous expansionism has called for frighten’d security measures following the attacks the gutted middle class citing unnamed sources has alleged a landslide forming somewhere in the deep middle and also a bird on...
Want to Submit Your Work?