Eileen R. Tabios is a poet working in multiple genres and in-between. She also loves books by writing, reading, publishing, critiquing, romancing and advocating for them. This blog will feature her bibliophilic activities with posts on current book engagements and links to her books and projects related to books.

Friday, November 21, 2014


If only because I'm prolific, I try to avoid writing poems that repeat their language. I try to do something fresh with language.  When I did my first Selected book, it was  THE THORN ROSARY which focused on a selection of prose poems. The compilation, for me (and any interested reader), allows for a look at what I've done with the prose poem form and see if I've contributed to it--expanded the form's expanse--in some way.  

A focus on poetic form opens up for me a way to do a Selected Poems type of book which, for many other poets, seems to focus on a best-of perspective: the best poems the poet has written over a period of time.  It's a point of view that doesn't resonate or challenge or interest me, if only because I've no interest in the "best poem" perspective.  Still, I enjoy reading many Selecteds and Collecteds precisely because I like what they reveal about the poet's trajectory.  But by focusing on an individual poetic form, I can see more clearly that trajectory and, thus, privately judge whether I've done justice to that particular form and earned my title as poet.

All this leads me to share news of my second Selected.  It will focus on a selection of catalogue or list poems, hence its title:



The period covered ends in 2015 because I have a publisher interested and it looks like it'll come out next year--thank you Universe.  Anyway, the reader will be able to see what I've done with the list poem form over the past 19 years and see if I've warranted the paper and ink I've used for such...

As I begin putting together the manuscript, I have to retype up many of the older poems since I don't have them e-saved somewhere.  So I thought I'd share what is the first poem of the collection which I plan to structure chronologically.  It is also the first List Poem I've written--I wrote it in 1996 when I first started writing poems:

Listening To What Woke Me

in the city, as summer evaporates off the streets:
the stilled, sharp blades of a three-pronged fan
behind the curve of its grated mask

the fragments of dust wakened
by the sole of a gavel
slamming as the judge stands

the pale-pink cotton fluttering
from my baby’s tiny snore,
bereft of nightmares cracking the eggshell of his brow

the memory of Black Mesa (New Mexico), an infinite sapphire
past the horizon as I drive by in a red car with Foreplay
surrounding … then the smoke in Anita’s songs

your finger trailing the ragged seam of my stretchmark

the last puddle of spicy, flour-thickened gravy
as a crumbling piece of warm cornbread
hovers, the butter dripping

you cannot translate the scattered remnants of a circle
covering the box from Chinatown in the hands of a boy
and I think of moths as the sun disappears

—the flutter of wings as they tease a dim porchlight

I think it'll be interesting to contrast that first list poem with my current work on list poems (e.g., HERE).  In between, the trajectory has been ... turbulent.  But I suppose, as a poet, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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