Read These: Stealing Dust by Karen Weyant & Out Here by Ginger Murchison
Karen J. Weyant's chapbook, Stealing Dust ($12, Finishing Line Press), is one of the most cohesive collections I've ever read. The narrative arc of the poems is thoughtful and full of forward motion. These poems go deep into the heart of living and growing up in a mill town, offering up precise and beautiful moments of blue-collar Americana. The speaker watches her father go to work every day in the mill, and eventually goes to work there herself. You can practically smell the heat and dust on these poems, how the mill itself stains the skin and gets deep under fingernails. There's a spirituality at work in these poems, and a sense of pride in the work, despite it's monotony and danger.
Ginger Murchison's debut collection Out Here ($5, Jeanne Duval Editions) finds its cohesion in the poet's keen eye for observation in the stories unfolding around her. From poetry workshops and busy city streets to the stillness of a forest and waves crashing on a beach, Murchison's short, deft poems are full of music. While much of Out Here, literally, takes place in nature, Murchison never falls into the cliche "little birdies flying past the window" trap. There is a brooding image of the South here -- kudzu creeping, heaving night air, jazz. It's heady, delicious and maybe just a little mischevious. There's poetry to be found in accidentally discovering a man masturbating in his car to the fierce protective love of a mother who hears an insult aimed at her mentally challenged daughter. There is an entire world to explore in Murchison's collection, a microcosm of us. To order Murchison's collection, send $5, plus $1.75 postage and handling to Jeanne Duval Editions, 201C 5th St. NE, Atlanta, GA. 30308.
Delusions of a Die Setter's Daughter
By Karen J. Weyant
Rumors on the floor say I'm here
because of my connections. But the truth
is much simpler: the money may be good,
the work may be easy, but no one wants
second shift in August, so I got the job.
In charge of two furnaces, I load pieces
off long carts, feeling summer freckles slide
from my face, and my skin grow tight
around my cheeks, my chin, even my ribs.
In the heat of hot grills, I discover
it is easy to daydream, to think the smile
on the maintenance man is real, but
the knotted hands of all the press operators
will disappear when they push through
their coat sleeves at quitting time.
When Lewis Hine appears, box camera in hand,
I don't blink. Never remembering
those pictures buried in my history textbooks,
photos of little girls stitching artificial flowers
in tenement houses, or young women
mending cotton threads in mills thick with fine dust,
and lint, I pose, only thinking of the words --
I only take pictures of beautiful children.
It's still summer. I'm 18, but look 14.
I only want to be beautiful.
Lesson with Flashcards
by Ginger Murchison
My daughter has leashed our dog to a doorknob
and set about teaching him numbers
with flashcards-three sailboats on half the card,
the number three on the other. Three, she says,
and I'm as close as I'll ever get
to how grass feels in the rain. Bluebirds and wrens
are diving hell bent at the dogwood
again for the last of the berries. Both
hunger and love have the same stinging
insistence, and the berries will never last.
The itinerate handyman's just rattled up
through the pines, his wood-paneled Wagoneer
full of the bowels of furnaces, the bones
of appliances, every possible pipe–his pulpit
to all our falterings and dead stops.
I wave him on. Nothing at all broken here.