About this poet

Thylias Moss was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 27, 1954. She earned a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Her books of poetry include Slave Moth: A Narrative in Verse (Persea Books, 2004), Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler (1998), Small Congregations: New and Selected Poems (1993), Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky (1991), At Redbones (1990), Pyramid of Bone (1989), and Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman (1983). She is the author of a memoir, Tale of a Sky-Blue Dress (1998), and two plays, Talking to Myself (1984) and The Dolls in the Basement (1984). Among her honors are a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Dewar's Profiles Performance Award, a Witter Bynner Award for Poetry, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Michigan.

The Culture of Glass

Thylias Moss, 1954

         Thanksgiving 2004: I’m thankful for

Columbo’s eye, Peter Falk’s indivisible
from the other’s vitreous dupe that he can pocket,
rub into, off of, and shine the crystal eyeball after
it subs in a game of table pool. Oh yeah!

The future of fortunes is manufactured revelation
of a snow globe: when the right someone gets his hands
on such a world, that world is shaken to pieces, the glass

is tapped in the aquarium, semitransparent arowanas remain
inexplicable, a tapper’s desire breaks out: oh to become glass,
to slide the foot into a transparent baby slipper arowana
and dance with a prince whose glass toenails
shatter when he runs after glass-footed beauties

born that way, skin so thin it hides nothing
without actually being clear, sneak peak
at the friable optic nerve, the components

separated only by glass
through which all seen becomes transparent, criminal
activity obvious, the put-on of opaque alibis
exposing a fear of crime’s transparency:

finger prints on the latex interior of the gloves,
imprint of a face on the wrong side of the mask:

at some level, a matter of seeing eye dog versus unseeing
eye dog, culture of breed, hole-in-the-wall expectations, cash
transactions, motel by the half-hour versus extended stay
opulence just to sleep there for real

with seeing eye dog sleeping on a braided rug half-under
the bed of a blind girl, the girlishness not an issue,
the dog not meant to be her guide into decisions, just
crossings to which she becomes committed independently,

regarding the cool dark of evening, the lapse
of the feel of light as day’s form of breathing,
getting illumination off its wide chest
until able to face again the responsibility of light
that even this girl must accept behind glasses:
day is hers too, given by an internal clock
that wants all the bright hours, odor of rising,
flowers opening with the bakeries, stunning
synchronizations, a pas de deux, she steps, dog steps
into the crosswalk at the same time as a man heading
toward them with coffee, led also but by the Arabica, hookah
descent, descant now to the caffeine
that doesn’t adhere to the glass mug: it is all for him,
her too if they merge at first sight: the world of coffee,
the culture of glass

bottom boats, success:
liquid assets: if solidity is the basic state

that matters, it’s obvious what happens:

The dog retires, seeing what canines see
for himself, fleas cross
his coat without help other than his receiving
no special treatment,
tied in a twenty-foot yard frequented most
by sunflowers, each seed
like the eye of an insect.      An alley of a yard

that from time to time becomes a crime scene
in the blink of an eye

                              the glass one melts last.

from Tokyo Butter by Thylias Moss. Copyright © 2006. Reprinted by permission of Persea Books, Inc. New York.

from Tokyo Butter by Thylias Moss. Copyright © 2006. Reprinted by permission of Persea Books, Inc. New York.

Thylias Moss

Thylias Moss was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1954. She earned a

by this poet

poem
This did not happen



although I have memories of it:
a doctor unwrapping a tutu 
so I knew I was in a hospital
but one unlike any other
practicing strange medicine 
but this strangeness has been effective


A hospital for dancers?




I was in pink,
sequined

I had been in a street,
an alley and

I was left
poem
Snow White was nude at her wedding, she's so white
the gown seemed to disappear when she put it on.

Put me beside her and the proximity is good
for a study of chiaroscuro, not much else.

Her name aggravates me most, as if I need to be told
what's white and what isn't.

Judging strictly by appearance there's a