Biography of Lucie Brock-Broido
Lucie Brock-Broido (born 22 May 1956 in Pittsburgh, PA) is the author of four collections of poetry. She has received many honors, including the Witter-Bynner prize of Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, the Harvard-Danforth Award for Distinction in Teaching, the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from American Poetry Review, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and a Guggenheim fellowship. She was described as an Elliptical Poet by critic Stephen Burt.
A graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, Brock-Broido is currently Director of Poetry in the Writing Division at Columbia University School of the Arts in New York City.
She divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and New York City.
Lucie Brock-Broido Poems
How Can It Be I Am No Longer I
Winter was the ravaging in the scarified Ghost garden, a freak of letters crossing down a rare Path bleak with poplars. Only the yew were a crewel
All about Carrowmore the lambs Were blotched blue, belonging. They were waiting for carnage or Snuff. This is why they are born To begin with, to end. Ruminants do not frighten At anything- gorge in the soil, butcher Noise, the mere graze of predators. All about Carrowmore The rain quells for three days. I remember how cold I was, the botched Job of traveling. And just so. Wherever I went I came with me. She buried her bone barrette In the ground's woolly shaft. A tear of her hair, an old gift To the burnt other who went First. My thick braid, my ornament- My belonging I Remember how cold I will be.
You Have Harnessed Yourself Ridiculously...
Tell the truth I told me When I couldn't speak. Sorrow's a barbaric art, crude as a Viking ship Or a child Who rode a spotted pony to the lake away from summer In the 1930s Toward the iron lung of polio. According to the census I am unmarried And unchurched. The woman in the field dressed only in the sun. Too far gone to halt the Arctic Cap's catastrophe, big beautiful Blubbery white bears each clinging to his one last hunk of ice. I am obliged, now, to refrain from dying, for as long as it is possible. For whom left am I first? We have come to terms with our Self Like a marmoset getting out of her Great Ape suit.
Two Girls Ago
No exquisite instruments. No dead coming back as wrens in rooms at dawn. No suicidal hankering; no hankering for suicide. No one thousand days. No slim luck for the only President I ever loved. No lukewarm bath in oatmeal. No lantern left for Natalie on the way home from school in her Alaskan dark. No eye. No Victorian slippers that walked the bogs to moor. No Donner bones with cuts on them or not. No horizontal weeping; no weeping vertically. No flipping back your black tails at the black piano bench. No Elgar, no Tallis, no post-industrial despair. No French kissing in the field of wild raspberry and thorn. No commissioned urn. No threat. In the table of contents I'm not dead yet.
Meditation on the Sources of the Catastr...
Green as alchemy and even more scarce, little can be known Of the misfortunes of a saint condemned to turn great sorrows Into greater egrets, ice-bound and irrevocable. The wings were left ajar At the altar where I've knelt all night, trembling, leaning, rough As sugar raw, and sweet. From the outside, peering in, it would seem My life had been smooth as a Prussian ship gliding on the bridegroom Of her Baltic waters in a season of no wind. Tinny empire, Neighborhood of Bokhara silks, were you to go, I would stop—simply As a pilgrim putting down his cup. Most of my life, I had consorted with the unspeakable, longing to put my mouth On it. I was just imagining. I can be Resumed. Some nights, I paint into the scene two Doves, I being alternately one and then the other, calling myself by my kind. In the living will if it says: Hydrate. Please. Hydration only. Do not resume me then.
Freedom of Speech
If my own voice falters, tell them hubris was my way of adoring you. The hollow of the hulk of you, so feverish in life, cut open, Reveals ten thousand rags of music in your thoracic cavity. The hands are received bagged and examination reveals no injury. Winter then, the body is cold to the touch, unplunderable, Kept in its drawer of old-world harrowing. Teeth in fair repair. Will you be buried where; nowhere. Your mouth a globe of gauze and glossolalia. And opening, most delft of blue, Your heart was a mess— A mob of hoofprints where the skittish colts first learned to stand, Catching on to their agility, a shock of freedom, wild-maned. The eyes have hazel irides and the conjunctivae are pale, With hemorrhaging. One lung, smaller, congested with rose smoke. The other, filled with a swarm of massive sentimentia. I adore you more. I know The wingspan of your voice, whole gorgeous flock of harriers, Cannot be taken down. You would like it now, this snow, this hour. Your visitation here tonight not altogether unexpected. The night-laborers, immigrants all, assemble here, aching for to speaking, Longing for to work.
A Girl Ago
No feeding on wisteria. No pitch-burner traipsing In the nettled woods. No milk in metal cylinders, no Buttering. No making small contusions on the page But saying nothing no one has not said before. No milkweed blown across your pony-coat, no burrs. No scent of juniper on your Jacobean mouth. No crush Of ink or injury, no lacerating wish. Extinguish me from this. I was sixteen for twenty years. By September I will be a ghost And flickering in unison with all the other fireflies in Appalachia, Blinking in the swarm of it, and all at once, above And on a bare branch in a shepherd's sky. No Dove. There is no thou to speak of.
What makes you think I'm an eccentric, he said, in London To the rag of the reporters who had gathered to report On his eccentricities — the tin sink light enough for traveling, but Deep enough to swallow his exquisite hands in water filled with ice. A budgerigar accompanies, perched atop the fugue of Hindemith. You are trembling now like the librarian reading To herself out loud in her Arctic room Composed entirely of snow. A broadcast (high fidelity) bound by the quiet of the land and The Mennonite who told him We are in this world, but are not of this world, You see. From the notebook of your partial list of symptoms, phobias: Fever, paranoia, polio (subclinical), ankle-foot phenomenon, The possibility of bluish spots. Everything one does is fear Not being of this world or in this world enough. There is no world I know, without some word of it.
Infinite Riches in the Smallest Room
Silk spool of the recluse as she confects her eventual mythomania. If it is written down, you can't rescind it. Spoon and pottage bowl. You are starving. Come closer now. What if I were gone and the wind still reeks of hyacinth, what then. Who will I be: a gaudy arrangement of nuclei, an apple-size gray circle On the tunic of a Jew, preventing more bad biological accidents From breeding-in. I have not bred- In. Each child still has one lantern inside lit. May the Mother not Blow her children out. She says her hair is thinning, thin. The flowerbed is black, sumptuous in emptiness. Blue-footed mushrooms line the walkway to my door. I would as soon Die as serve them in a salad to the man I love. We lie down In the shape of a gondola. Venice is gorgeous cold. 3 December, Unspeakable anxiety about locked-in syndrome, about a fourth world. I cannot presume to say. The violin spider, she Has six good eyes, arranged in threes. The rims of wounds have wounds as well. Sphinx, small print, you are inscrutable. On the roads, blue thistles, barely Visible by night, and, by these, you may yet find your way home.
Father, in Drawer
Mouthful of earth, hair half a century silvering, who buried him. With what. Make a fist for heart. That is the size of it. Also directives from our DNA. The nature of his wound was the clock-cicada winding down. He wound down. July, vapid, humid: sails of sailboats swelled, yellow boxes Of cigars from Cuba plumped. Ring fingers fattened for a spell. Barges of coal bloomed in heat. It was when the catfish were the only fish left living In the Monongahela River. Though there were (they swore) no angels left, one was stillbound in The very drawer of salt and ache and rendering, its wings wrapped-in By the slink from the strap Of his second-wife's pearl-satin slip, shimmering and still As one herring left face-up in its brine and tin. The nature of his wound was muscadine and terminal; he was easy To take down as a porgy off the cold Atlantic coast. In the old city of Brod, most of the few Jews left Living may have been still at supper while he died. That same July, his daughters' scales came off in every brittle Tinsel color, washing To the next slow-yellowed river and the next, toward west, Ohio-bound. This is the extent of that. I still have plenty heart.
On abandon, uncalled for but called forth. The hydrangea Of her crushed each year a little more into the attar of herself. Pallid. Injured, wildly capable. A throat to come home to, tupelo. Lemurs in parlors, inconsolable. Parlors of burgundy and sleigh. Unseverable fear. Wistful, woke most every afternoon In the green rooms of the Abandonarium. Beautiful cage, asylum in. Reckless urges to climb celestial trellises that may or may not Have been there. So few wild raspberries, they were countable, Triaged out by hand. Ten-thousand-count Egyptian cotton sheets. Intimacy with others, Sateen. Extreme hyacinth as evidence. Her single subject the idea that every single thing she loves Will (perhaps tomorrow) die. High editorial illusion of "Control." Early childhood: measles, Scarlet fevers; Cleopatra for most masquerades, gold sandals, broken home. Convinced Gould's late last recording of the Goldberg Variations Was put down just for her. Unusual coalition of early deaths. Early middle deaths as well. Believed, despite all evidence, In afterlife, looked hopelessly for corroborating evidence of such. Wisteria, extreme. There was always the murmur, you remember, about going home.
Currying the Fallow-Colored Horse
And to the curious I say, Don't be naïve. The soul, like a trinket, is a she. I lay down in the tweed of one man that first frost night. I did not like the wool of him. You have one mitochondrial speck of evidence on your cleat. They can take you down for that. Did I forget to mention that when you're dead You're dead a long time. My uncle, dying, told me this when asked, Why stay here for such suffering. A chimney swift flits through the fumatorium. I long for one last Blue democracy, Which has broke my heart a while. How many minutes have I left, the lover asked, To still be beautiful? I took his blond face in my hands and kissed him blondly On his mouth.
Where is your father whose eye you were the apple of? Where are your mother's parlor portieres, her slip-covered days, her petticoats? In the orchard at the other end of time, you were just a child in ballet slippers, Your first poodle skirt, your tortoiseshell barrettes. As the peach tree grew more Scarce each day, you kept running out to try to tape the leaves back on their boughs. Once, I caught you catch a pond of sunlight in your lap and when you stood, The sunlight spilt; it could never follow you. Once, above the river, You told me you were born to be a turtle, swimming down. Under the bridge Now you take your meals where the thinnest creatures live at the end Of the world. Carpe Demon, you told me just before you put down the phone And drank the antifreeze. This year, the winter sky in Missouri is a kind of cold The color of a turtle's hood, a soup of dandelion, burdock root, and clay.
What was it I was hungry about. Hunger, it is one Of the several contraptions I can turn on the off-button to at will. Yes, yes, of course it is an "Art." Of course I will not be here Long, not the way the percentages are going now.
Don't do that when you are dead like this, I said,
Arguably still squabbling about the word inarguably.
I haunt Versailles, poring through the markets of the medieval.
Mostly meat to be sold there; mutton hangs
Like laundry pinkened on its line.
And gold!—a chalice with a cure for living in it.
We step over the skirt of an Elizabeth.
Red grapes, a delicacy, each peeled for us—
The vestments of a miniature priest, disrobed.