I’m really pleased with MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION ‘s post-book life. After reading Erica Goss’ reference to MDR in a review at Sticks & Stones, Joy McDowell wrote her own “I forgot” poem which I’m pleased to share here:
AMBERGRIS AND AMANITA
I forgot how a man can double down when challenged,
spit louder and shoot bolts from his eyes.
I forgot how grand a sociopath self-reflects in a room
of average units humming in brain cases.
I forgot how white pimples on a mushroom adorn an umbrella
whose abdominal agony will slowly kill you.
I forgot how loud night sounds from Hell, from the next room, the floor above,
a back alley ripe with screams and screeching tires.
I forgot how in the city a sleeper must bolt the door, seal the windows
and pray for rain to hijack the heat.
I forgot how an unexplained dimple in the latitude can freak the freaks,
spook the spooks and send brimstone bombing down like volcanic ash.
I forgot how numb the cudgel can feel on flesh, that pain beyond comprehension
when nerve endings are torn away and you separate from the mother craft.
I forgot how a gob of ambergris found on the beach once made men
rich from the vomited perfume of a sperm whale.
I forgot how I fell asleep beneath the Liquidambar styraciflua,
a sweet gum tree whose fruit, those tiny medieval flails, spike my face.
I forgot that imagination stirs trouble, charms a child, sugars the awful truth
and tugs off trickster veils.
I forgot that pain and bliss, fear and love,
rotate on the stick man wheel.
Joy McDowell is a graduate of the University of Oregon. She often writes about people at the edge of society, those in rural, blue collar areas who struggle to survive. Her characters don’t attend Vassar or Yale. They hunt and cut meat, sometimes commit crimes and often view life as an experience to outwit. Her latest collection, titled On the Edge, is a companion piece to her 2010 collection, Diesel Horse, published by Uttered Chaos Press.
She welcomes a reading eye that is interested in the lives of Americans who exist outside the mainstream. Her characters have their own twisted dignity and logic. Like John Steinbeck in his books, Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, or Carolyn Chute in her book, The Beans of Egypt Maine, Joy McDowell pays close attention to the language and action of what many sources refer to as the lower echelons of American life. Without sentiment she presents her miniature story poems.
Her other chapbooks are Waltzing the Dragon and Blue Cat Shoes. Four of her poems were included in the anthology, New Poets of the American West. Her poem, “The Rest I Imagine,” was awarded the editor’s choice award for the state of Oregon. She is a member of the Red Sofa Critique group and her work is included in Mildred, an anthology representing this group of Oregon poets. She is published in Willawaw and the anthology Moments Before Midnight.