Poetry 365: Laura Kasischke

Poet Laura Kasischke

This month for Poetry 365 we’re highlighting Laura Kasischke’s ambitious new volume Space, in Chains.  A 2011 NY Times Notable Book, the Pushcart Prize winner’s eighth collection finds her pursuing her signature stream-of-consciousness style while also exploring her new interest in the prose poem.  Mingling homey memories of childhood with questions about the existence of God, Kasischke’s haunting and hypnotic pieces often resemble impressionist paintings as they “walk that perfect Plathian line between the everyday… and the eternal.”  So check out this profound new collection, sample a poem below, and clear your calendar… our National Poetry Month celebration is about to begin.

Cigarettes

Back then, we smoked them.  In
every family photo, someone’s smoking.
                                                                                                                                     .
Such ashes, such sarcasm, the jokes
that once made loved ones
who are dead now laugh and laugh.
                                                                                                   .
Cigarette in hand.
Standing glamorously at the mantel.
The fire glowing
ahead and behind
and all the little glasses
and the snow outside
                                                                    .
filling up the birdbaths, the open graves, the eyes.
                          .
And the orchestras in gymnasiums!
That mismanagement
of sound.  The wonderful
smoke afterward
in parking lots, in lungs.  How
                                                                                              .
homeliness was always followed
by extravagance back then.
Like hearing lovemaking
in another room
or passing suffering
on the side of the road
without even slowing down:
                                                                                                                                  .
So it is to remember
such times
and to see them again
so vividly in the mind.
Like a mysterious child
traveling toward us
on a moonless night
holding a jar
containing a light.

space in chains

Russell J. (Readers’ Services)

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