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About this poet

On August 20, 1950, Chase Twichell was born in New Haven, Connecticut. She received a bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1973 and an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1976.

Her books of poetry include Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), Dog Language (Copper Canyon Press, 2005), The Snow Watcher (Ontario Review Press, 1998), The Ghost of Eden (Ontario Review Press, 1995), Perdido (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1991), The Odds (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986), and Northern Spy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1981).

From 1976 to 1984 she worked at Pennyroyal Press, and from 1986 to 1988 she coedited the Alabama Poetry Series, published by University of Alabama Press. She also coedited The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach with Robin Behn (HarperCollins, 1992).

She has won awards from the Artists Foundation, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

She has taught at Princeton University, Goddard College, Warren Wilson College, the University of Alabama, and Hampshire College. In 1999 Twichell founded Ausable Press.

She lives in Keene, New York, with her husband, the novelist Russell Banks.

Inland

Chase Twichell, 1950
Above the blond prairies,
the sky is all color and water.
The future moves
from one part to another.

This is a note
in a tender sequence
that I call love,
trying to include you,
but it is not love.
It is music, or time.

To explain the pleasure I take
in loneliness, I speak of privacy,
but privacy is the house around it.
You could look inside,
as through a neighbor's window
at night, not as a spy
but curious and friendly.
You might think
it was a still life you saw.

Somewhere, the ocean
crashes back and forth
like so much broken glass,
but nothing breaks.
Against itself,
it is quite powerless.

Irises have rooted
all along the fence,
and the barbed berry-vines
gone haywire.

Unpruned and broken,
the abandoned orchard
reverts to the smaller,
harder fruits, wormy and tart.
In the stippled shade,
the fallen pears move
with the soft bodies of wasps,
and cows breathe in
the licorice silage.

It is silent
where the future is.
No longer needed there,
love is folded away in a drawer
like something newly washed.
In the window,
the color of the pears intensifies,
and the fern's sporadic dust
darkens the keys of the piano.

Clouds containing light
spill out my sadness.
They have no sadness of their own.

The timeless trash of the sea
means nothing to me—
its roaring descant,
its multiple concussions.
I love painting more than poetry.

From Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems by Chase Twichell. Copyright © 2010 by Chase Twichell. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

From Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems by Chase Twichell. Copyright © 2010 by Chase Twichell. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Chase Twichell

Chase Twichell

Born on August 20, 1950, Chase Twichell is the author of several books of poetry including Northern Spy.

by this poet

poem
I want you with me, and yet you are the end
of my privacy. Do you see how these rooms
have become public? How we glance to see if--
who? Who did you imagine?
Surely we're not here alone, you and I.

I've been wandering
where the cold tracks of language
collapse into cinders, unburnable trash.
Beyond that, all I
poem
Whenever I look
out at the snowy
mountains at this hour
and speak directly
into the ear of the sky,
it's you I'm thinking of.
You're like the spirits
the children invent
to inhabit the stuffed horse
and the doll.
I don't know who hears me.
I don't know who speaks
when the horse speaks.
poem
A kid said you could chew road tar
if you got it before it cooled,
black globule with a just-forming skin.
He said it was better than cigarettes.
He said he had a taste for it.

On the same road, a squirrel
was doing the Watusi to free itself
from its crushed hindquarters.
A man on a bicycle stomped on