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.
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.
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
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
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.
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