Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bad Star - Rebecca Hazelton

Today's book of poetry:
Bad Star.  Rebecca Hazelton.  YesYes Books.  Portland, Oregon, USA.  2013.

Rebecca Hazelton's Bad Star is one dazzling little super nova.  Hazelton explores the darker edges of love and desire, the bruises left by lust.

How Damaged

Like when waking to the wreckage is as easy as stretching
                         out across the bed and feeling the warmth
            leaving the cooling depression—that knowledge
that no one is coming back, and no one wants to—
yes, that way,
                                      where you are the leaving
                                                   and the left,
                          the weft in the sheets
              ladder to the sunlight's weave
                                        the same as ever.

As if sex were a motion that slipped ships from docks
                                      and Helen just one more woman
                         shaped like an excuse.
Walls fall,
                         but then, they do
and afterwards, the sky looks broader,
            the horses on the horizon
                                    full of possibility.


Hazelton's sure voice walks a taut line, apparently with a rope in one hand and a knife in the other, but her smile is saying something sweet.

Before She Rings His Door

She is shameless for a moment,
              though shame will follow, and feels joy—
having walked a mile in deep snow
                                         past the aging townhomes,
past the community garden
                          blasted by frost, the kiosk pinned with years
                                                    of messages, apartments for let,
                                                    bands to form, lost
                                                                 and wanted,
the frozen lake that could support a woman, a man,
                                        and the weight of their proximity,
past even the idea of herself as a woman walking
                                        to her own sadness,
a thing that she feels distantly
                          inside her, raising its weak wings, hissing
like the injured goose she sees in the snow, his companions
                                                                                 long gone,
keenly hearing
               the summer calling him home.


These poems are a tease.  
These poems are a prayer.
Hazelton litanies the violence that sometimes willingly occurs when passion meets purpose, she isn't afraid of taking poetry along for the hearts' dark ride.

Make Good

Promise me there is an end
                                           to this ever. Promise me the tulips that return
with black centres and lurid pollen
                                           will waste and wither in the heat.
Promise me this Tom Collins glass
                                           will sweat itself out. Promise me another.
Promise me another kiss
                                           to my forehead, a sweating goodbye,

promise me you won't
                                           come back. Promise me the rabbits
will starve in their burrows.
                                           Promise me the rain coming down.
                                                                        Promise me the fox kits will drown.

Promise me a house a car a gate
                                           a small dog to wag when I come home.
Promise me a mailbox with my name on it.
                                                         Promise me a new name that suits me.
Promise me the dog won't die.
                            Promise me a mouse in the pantry and small droppings
                                                         in the food.
                                                         Promise me moths in the clothes,
the small holes that grow larger.
                                            Promise me your hands tied
                                                                                      behind your back.
Promise me we'll laugh and laugh.

Promise me a child will shake out like pollen from a tulip.
                                                          Promise me you aren't the man you promised.
Promise me that the hands I cut off and buried
                                           in the backyard were my hands.
Promise me they won't grow back.


This short book of shortish poems fights way above its weight and does it with heavyweight bravado.  Rebecca Hazelton has published two previous books of poetry, Bad Star can only add lustre to her reputation.

I thoroughly enjoyed this dramatically tender and tart book.

Rebecca Hazelton - Kraken Reading Series in Denton, Texas
January 26, 2012

Rebecca Hazelton - Kraken Reading Series in Denton, Texas (part 2)
January 26, 2012

Rebecca Hazelton reads her poem "Questions About the Wife"
Cleveland, Ohio, November 22, 2013

Back cover blurbs:

     Just enough knife, just enough feather—Rebecca Hazelton's Bad Star cuts and caresses
     with masochistic precision in this brilliant dissection of modern love.  I would say to 
     potential readers: take a deep breath and see how far you can go.
     Allison Benis White, author of Self Portrait with Crayon

     Bad Star is a gripping, lyric noir that chronicles the travails of a clear-eyed femme
     fatale we root for despite, or because of, her love of "small violences/ which swoon
     her silent/ and unafraid."  Hazelton recasts a tale of star-crossed lovers with a fierce
     intelligence, a profound exploration of eroticism, and a music so exquisite it carries
     us through from violence to radiance: "what joy,/ to feel opened up/ to wonder...
     to have the real/ fear at last.
     Katy Didden, author of The Glacier's Wake

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