Biography of Emily Rosko
Emily Rosko earned her BA from Purdue University, her MFA from Cornell University, and her PhD from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her collections of poetry include Raw Goods Inventory (2006), which won an Iowa Poetry Prize and a Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, and Prop Rockery (2012), winner of an Akron Poetry Prize. She edited the volume A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (2011).
Rosko was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and her honors and awards include Ruth Lilly and Jacob K. Javits fellowships. The poetry editor of Crazyhorse, Rosko is an assistant professor of English at the College of Charleston.
Emily Rosko Poems
There's loneliness and there's this— an unfrequented song, a startling voice across years. A shifting position, hymn
Everywhere is a nowhere, and here we are in the middle of it.
Time And The Hour Runs Through The Rough...
It's a fishery of looks that swallows us, squared away in our fenced-off station. Cypress as sentry, an entanglement straight
We were thinking of starting a band, all lined up like ducks in a shooting gallery. This one would be gem, that one metamorphic, the rest pebbles and some laboratory-grown, semi-precious stones. The trees were in it for the long-run; they swayed or stood stoic, sheltered what they could. We made the cast as an idle grouping: we played the trump, the idiot, the glue. We backdropped with hearts hardly beating, our eyes set straight in our heads: the bombed- out school kids, the oilfields scrubbed in turns. We chewed the fat amongst ourselves. You said, this place should be more festive: a lightning bolt, a snail, a fraud. I set a crumb aside for the local roof rat; you tallied the droppings, the amputees, the gold. I blew my top when you lost 'Dominion.' You said, what can be done? It's gone, it's gone. Wind started in through the rift-way, buzzed over our slate-blue bones. All the leaves have aged with kindness, all our pretend looped and windowed raggedness went largely unseen. We were on stage the whole performance, held our breath for the final moments with cheeks rent and red. No neck was slit on our backs; no distraught lover jumped from our cliff's edge. There was a stirring backstage we could sense it: a temptress, some anger, some sin. Weeds came thick around us. The act had been bungled sorely. We withheld our opinions, sat in wait. We were good for a throwing.
There was no room for us to have feelings. Under the Queen, we were foiled, our faces blanked of wonder. A pitiful ordeal, our cheap toil. We hated her for stealing. Our crooked backs ached; our knees bled from kneeling, the whole sum of our treasures given up to fund her. There was no room for us to have feelings, so we made our way quietly; we arranged our own dealings, checked what we clocked. Each swallowed their thunder and railed within. Nothing left out for stealing. But pound for pound, we grew skinny, weary, reeling from the new rules she devised. We had to watch and mind her. There was no room for us to have feelings. We were audited, then fined. We abided her schooling. Then, all music stopped. All solitude filled, we couldn't ponder our losses. We tried to forget how much she was stealing. Our patron saints left us; the stars took to jeering, leering at our lessened state. We hardened at our blunder. There was no room to have any feelings. What of us? Not a pittance. No worth there for stealing
Round and round they go with a ribbon and garlanded flowers in hand. The bark won't unravel, the tree spells solidness—we grand, oaken, elmed selves of the ancients. Our pith is clean. There's no pining away for tomorrow, we are in current respiration, we move with the wind. Singular, we are stunning. In horde, we are dense, differing dream. The autumnal flashiness these days is drought-determined. We barely go beyond the red. Our hollows are never vacant. We live to board; we take the ax. Marbled inside the original stem. We were born we don't know when.
Raw Goods Inventory
Oh, clouds that do not look like cherubs, move over! My heart isn't big enough to include you. The crows shit on my car every morning, such gratuitous little fellows—the things I never asked for. Oh, unrecognized genius, the modest beauty wasting from illness, the good-kid-turned-bad. Failing grade, summer heat. Oh, row of desks I loathed sitting at. In school, we hatched chickens from an incubator, eggs in rotation, the chicks deformed. One with thin chest skin and no ribs—the organs sludged and its cheep-cheep cries. The animals my mother made me return—the rabbit, the toad, the slug. Oh, child tossing a ball alone! The dandelions are systematically doused with chemicals—the chemicals you'll sniff as a teenager, the brain the unrepining side-kick. Dear sister whom I cannot relate to, I surrendered my popsicles to you! Friend who kept my videotapes. Ex-lover, you fall so clumsily through old poems. Book, you looked better on the shelf! Oh, the philomaths are paraphrasing other people's theories, the same dribble! Numbers and words, teleological trinkets that can't retain the world. Over a thousand monarchs frost-nipped in Mexico—untranslatable odor. Oh, sex-drive that won't be active forever! Oh, old woman I will someday become! Take stock now, I say, use your flexibility. Stomach stay flat, breasts don't droop any time soon. Oh, body, you were once small and resilient—you could shimmy through tight places. Mind, you were sparked; heart, uninjured. I am such a thing. Lazy day. Oh, wizened hickory, I too grow out of myself.
Everywhere is a nowhere,
and here we are
in the middle of it.
For as long as we
could we galloped through
the cross-hatched daisies,
threw out our lungs