POETRY DISPATCH #375 | May 31, 2012
WHAT TO WISH ON
Editor’s Note: It’s good to see two favorite Wisconsin writers, poet Karla Huston. and poet/writer/publisher, R.Chris Halla, come together in this latest PAGE 5, Spring 2012, Number 14.
Halla has been publishing his unique Page 5 on-and-off / occasionally / whenever-the-spirit-moves, finances allow, for going on twenty years now. I think Gary Busha’s, THE OL’ MAN (another little beauty) was the last in 2009.
Fold a 17×12 inch sheet of quality paper in half, fold it again, and there you have it: 5 pages, front cover, back cover (Halla’s own drawings usually/perfectly gracing the cover and inside), two pages of poems on the first opening, and as many poems as you can get on the full opening.
Karla packs all that space with a sure sense of poetry-self and a command of ordinary/extraordinary language that makes even hurtful love worth living for, knowing as only poets do, what’s good for you.
Did I say two favorite writers? Make that three. One of Wisconsin’s finest poets, Mariann Ritzer, provocatively pens her praise (beyond ‘blurb’) for Karla’s work on the whole back page.
What a joy these poems, what a perfect package everything and everybody coming together in five pages. What a deal: $3.00. –Norbert Blei
R. Chris Halla, E&P
W6175 Aerotech Dr.
Appleton, WI 54914
The first time I drank it,
I thought it was cough syrup,
it was so sticky sweet and biting.
After prom, my boyfriend offered
a sip while we sat in his car,
a ’49 Ford with a huge bench seat
perfect for making out.
He tried to get fresh–me heated
and woozy–but even then
I was not going down
that road, his blackberry tongue
in my mouth, hands slipping
into something lacy.
Later and down from my brandy high
I combed Grecian curls from my hair,
each fat coil unfurled–until it was finished.
Clearly I was finished with my boyfriend
because by then he’d taken off,
and I was there with girlfriends
who were in far worse shape.
I never drank blackberry again,
though, I confess to sloe gin,
the crimson drizzle tasting worse
than brandy going down
and coming up, l learned to like
little shorties at a quarter a pop,
to dance in the flash of blacklights,
There was a war going on
in my head and in a place I’d never been,
but in two years, the boys in my class,
many, would be gone. And my guy—
off serving his stint and that car
with its itchy seats–gone,
and my taste for brandy replaced
by beer and a new boyfriend to please,
a new set of rules to swallow.
MOST OF ALL
He’s got it right, the friend who wrote
about a woman wearing a man’s shirt,
the way she can pull his scent to her
and feel his arms around her again.
I think a man likes to see a woman
dressed in his shirt: the sleeves
dangling and the buttons and holes
that go together backwards, the stupid
grin on his face when she tells him
she’s going to pee, and he asks to watch.
She wraps the shirt more tightly
tries to fit her body into every
stitch and seam. She likes the way
the shirt holds her, so soft and so manlike:
that, and the sigh of his breath
in every thread, Yes, that most of all.
A Note On What To Wish On
by Mariann Ritzer
I want to fail in love with poetry the same way I’ve always fallen in love with men–quickly. Karla Huston’s seven unencumbered poems in this collection let me do just that. And then these poems take me on a journey off the interstate and onto the backroads, the country roads where I can hear the wonderful sounds of assonance and consonance in lines and phrases that take me up and down hills, around curves — quickly, slowly. And, as with falling in love, I want some surprises — the kind that make me go back and realize it was the craft, it was each poem’s attention to detail, each poem’s emotional veracity that sustained me.
It’s important to read these poems in sequence first. You don’t want to miss the narrative these seven gems tell collectively about love and sex (and the abyss between). You don’t want to miss how these things can masquerade for each other when you are in the throes of blackberry brandy or wearing a man’s shirt and nothing else or falling painfully out of love while listening to Rod McKuen’s “divine sorrow of words.”
When you’ve read them all, go back and find the moon’s chalky face, dandelions taking flight, the deep dreams of love. Take the slow country road. You’ll fall in love all over again like I did. You’ll know What To Wish On.