Diann Blakely, a two-time Pushcart winner, also received the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America for Cities of Flesh and the Dead while still in manuscript form, then 7th annual Judge’s Prize from Elixir Press. Farewell, My Lovelies, was named a Choice of the Academy of American Poets’ Book Society. She has taught at Belmont University, Harvard University, Vanderbilt University, Watkins Arts Institute, and also served as the first poet-in-residence at the Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee. A Robert Frost Fellow at Bread Loaf, she was a Dakin Williams Fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.
The work here is from Fragments of an Elegy, the opening section of Lost Addresses: New and Selected Poem
Voicelessness. The snow has no voice.
The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves,
My heart opens and closes: awareness,
Or protection, month after month, to no purpose?
In Munich, morgue between Rome and Paris,
Voicelessness reigns. The snow has no voice,
And I have wanted to efface myself. Tulips
Forced open in the domesticity of windows!—
The walls warm themselves like dangerous animals,
But mannequins lean in their furs, orange lollies
Where light slowly widens and slowly thins.
The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves
Where the yew trees blow like sulfur hydras
Or the fanged mouths of great African cats,
If not where snow drops its pieces of darkness.
Why bother to keep the bureaus and teasets,
Or months, tamped shoes, Stolzes, orange lollies—
All voiceless! The snow has no voice,
But my heart opens: why close awareness?
The six-foot maître d’ at Bar Marmont
Wears a kimono to die for—jade green
Embroidered with red and black dragons
Whose lifted tails repeat the well-plucked sheen
Of his eyebrows. Repeat the curving waves
Slammed lavishly against the gull-pocked jetties;
Also tiny waves sloshed from glass to table.
Campari, ice cubes, foam. Whose face is pretty
When pocked and sloshed with tears? Here’s your compact.
Here’s your comb. Small marvels: a clean tissue
And favorite lipstick. Should you have nipped and tucked?
Love’s death is no one’s fault, but like fissures
Left by earthquakes, like the walls of houses
Slashed from canyons by mud, needs a scapegoat.
You need another drink. Your weekend’s hosts,
Both native-born, are late. Applaud the drag act
Of the maître d’ with a large tip.
His maquillage’s to die for too, but where’s
The wig and fake cleavage? The padded hips?
How often you’ve applauded late-show stars
Who fake death to escape it: one open eye,
Or black-lashed flutter on a pancaked cheek,
Tells you that the plucky star’s alive
Though mud-pocked and bleeding at a man’s feet,
Embroidering his shoes; curved breasts peek through
The slashed kimono. Fake husbands can’t survive
Without wives’ dividends, without their new,
Much younger loves. You’ve repeated their lines
In favorite nightmares, also to your friends:
Both lifted their eyebrows. Why not move here?
Too thin, too pale. Land of eternal tans:
Love ends with tears; death, a drag, lingers.
to Molly Bendall