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About this poet

Diane Seuss was born in Michigan City, Indiana, in 1956 and raised in Edwardsburg and Niles, Michigan. She studied at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University, where she received a master’s degree in social work.

Seuss is the author of four books of poetry: Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywolf Press, 2018); Four-Legged Girl (Graywolf Press, 2015); Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010), recipient of the Juniper Prize for Poetry; and It Blows You Hollow (New Issues Press, 1998).

Seuss served as the MacLean Distinguished Visiting Professor in the English department at Colorado College in 2012 and is currently writer-in-residence at Kalamazoo College, where she has been on the faculty since 1988. She lives in Michigan.


Bibliography

Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywolf Press, 2018)
Four-Legged Girl (Graywolf Press, 2015)
Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010)
It Blows You Hollow (New Issues Press, 1998)

Six Unrhymed Sonnets

1
I drove all the way to Cape Disappointment but didn’t
have the energy to get out of the car. Rental. Blue Ford
Focus. I had to stop in a semipublic place to pee
on the ground. Just squatted there on the roadside.
I don’t know what’s up with my bladder. I pee and then
I have to pee and pee again. Instead of sightseeing
I climbed into the back seat of the car and took a nap.
I’m a little like Frank O’Hara without the handsome
nose and penis and the New York School and Larry
Rivers. Paid for a day pass at Cape Disappointment
thinking hard about that long drop from the lighthouse
to the sea. Thought about going into the Ocean
Medical Center for a check-up but how do I explain
this restless search for beauty or relief?

2
No need to sparkle, Virginia Woolf wrote in “A Room
of One’s Own,” oh, would that it were true, I loved the kids
who didn’t, June, can’t remember her last name, tilt of her
head like an off-brand flower on the wane, her little rotten
teeth the color of pencil lead, house dresses even in 4th grade,
and that boy Danny Davis, gray house, horse, eyes, clothes,
fingertips and prints, freckles not copper-colored but like metal
shavings you could clean up with a magnet. Now Mrs. LaPointe
was a dug-up bone but Miss Edge sparkled, she taught the half-
and-half class, 3rd and 4th grades cut down the middle
of the room like sheet cake, she wore a lavender chiffon dress
with a gauzy cape to school, aquamarine eye shadow, Sweetie,
she whispered to me, leaning down, breath a perfume, your
daddy’s dead, tears stuck to her cheeks like leeches or jewels.

3
I aborted two daughters, how do I know they were girls,
a mother knows, at least one daughter, maybe one
daughter and a son, will it hurt I asked the pre-abortion
lady and she said, her eyes were so level, I haven’t been
stupid enough to need to find out, cruel but she was right,
I was and am stupid, please no politics, I’ve never gotten
over it, no I don’t regret it, two girls with a stupid penniless
mother and a drug-addict father, I don’t think so, I shot
a rabbit once for food, I am not pristine, I am not good,
I am in no way Jesus, I am in no way even the bad Mary
let alone the good, though I have held my living son
in the pietà pose, I didn’t know at the time I was doing it
but now that I look back, he’d overdosed and nearly died,
my heart, he said, his lips blue, don’t worry, I’ve paid.

4
To return from Paradise I guess they call that
resurrection. Don’t remember the black cherries’
gleam, bay shine, mountain’s sheen, blissful
appalling loneliness. Messy foam at sea’s edge,
slurry they call it, where love and death meld
into slop, and unaccustomed birds. Forget all
the way back to where you were before you were
born. When Dyl was a toddler, still finger-sucking,
he said he remembered the sound of my blood
whooshing past him in utero, maybe the first of many
lies, this one with an adorable speech impediment.
I always return, it’s my nature, like the man who
couldn’t stop liberating the crayfish even though
it pinched him hard, that song, that Grand Ole Opry.

5
The best is when you respond only to the absolute present
tense, the rain, the rain, rain, rain, and wind, an iridescent
cloud, another shooting, this time in a shopping mall
in Germany, so this is why people want other people to put
their arms around them, I will walk to the bay where there is
a kind of peace, even emptiness, the barn swallows’ sharp
flight and cry, who now has the luxury of emptiness or peace,
the beauty of thunder in a place where there is rarely thunder,
the mind like a jackrabbit bounding, bounding, my wet hair
against my neck, grandfather’s barber shop, the line-up
of hair tonics by color like a spectrum, the pool table removed
to make a room for great-grandma to live out her years, my
father cutting a semicircle in her kitchen table so it would fit
around the stove pipe, rain, rain, fascism in America is loud.

6
Poetry, the only father, landscape, moon, food, the bowl
of clam chowder in Nahcotta, was I happy, mountains
of oyster shells gleaming silver, poetry, the only gold,
or is it, my breasts, feet, my hands, index finger,
fingernail, hangnail, paper cut, what is divine, I drove
to the sea, wandered aimlessly, I stared at my tree, I said
in my mind there’s my tree, there’s my tree I said in my mind,
I remember myself before words, thrilled at my parents’
touch, opened milkweed with no agenda, blew the fluff,
no reaching for comparison, to be free of signification,
wriggle out of the figurative itchy sweater, body, breasts,
vulva, little cave of the uterus, clit, need, touch, come, I came
before I knew what coming was, iambic pentameter, did I
feel it, does language eclipse feeling, does it eclipse the eclipse

Copyright © 2017 Diane Seuss. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, November/December 2017

Copyright © 2017 Diane Seuss. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, November/December 2017

Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss is the author of four books of poetry: Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywolf Press, 2018); Four-Legged Girl (Graywolf Press, 2015); Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010), recipient of the Juniper Prize for Poetry; and It Blows You Hollow (New Issues Press, 1998).

by this poet

poem

There is a force that breaks the body, inevitable,
the by-product is pain, unexceptional as a rain
gauge, which has become arcane, rhyme, likewise,
unless it’s assonant or internal injury, gloom, joy,
which is also a dish soap, but not the one that rids
seabirds of oil from wrecked tankers

2
poem

If there’s pee on the seat it’s my pee,
battery’s dead I killed it, canary at the bottom
of the cage I bury it, like God tromping the sky
in his undershirt carrying his brass spittoon,
raging and sobbing in his Hush Puppy house
slippers with the backs broke down, no Mrs.
God to make

poem

The barber, with his mug of warm foam, his badger-hair brush.

My mother and sister and me and the dog, leashed with a measure
of anchor rope, in the hospital parking lot, waving good-bye
to my father from his window on the 7th floor.

Just him and his tumor, rare