In late 2016, then-poetry editor Joanna Preston of takahē magazine asked me to be a guest poet for a forthcoming issue, and now that issue has been published! I really like the cover:
While I haven’t seen the issue yet, I’m expecting the following poems of mine will appear in it:
- Messiaen among the Dinosaurs
- The Leningrad Symphonies
- The Home of Country Music
- Early Summer Music
- The Hired Hand
They are all on a common theme (with variations), and as might be apparent from many of the titles, that theme is music. My musical tastes run from Schoenberg to Stormzy, but as I haven’t a shred of musical talent, I’m much better suited to writing about music than making it. My first three collections all feature poems about music and musicians, but I took a break from that theme for my latest collection New Sea Land.
I was delighted to be asked to be the guest poet for takahē, and especially pleased that “The Hired Hand” was among the poems they accepted, as it’s the longest poem I’ve written (84 lines) and my most sustained attempt at narrative poetry. Below, as a teaser for the issue, is the first stanza of “The Hired Hand”. Subscribe to takahē to see the full poem and all the other fine work in this issue.
The Hired Hand [first of six stanzas]
The news breaks along the Oregon Trail, their van
panting up I-84 in the thin continental air,
coverage intermittent, Suzie snoring
last night’s last three drinks away.
Whether to call, or text, or let things
simmer for a while. Whether to bang her head
against the dashboard. Whether to look at the road
instead of synching and resynching her phone.
Boise: gas, toilet, then McDonalds. Suzie mumbling
like a broken boxer, mountain light stinging her eyes.
Then as coffee takes hold: “An album and a reunion tour?
And they didn’t call you about it? Again?”
“They might have kind of called,” she says.
Suzie calls her a fool and takes her hand.
Read the rest in takahē 89!