Sunday, October 21, 2007


Melissa Tuckey: Rope as Witness from Pudding House Publications

I return to Melissa Tuckey's poems over and over - especially when I want quiet and the reminder of what the unspoken can say. As Fred Joiner memorably noted in his introduction, when Melissa read in the Intersections poetry series, the poems creep up on you. They are quiet, but if you slow down and take your time with them, they hit you with a whallop. Take the following, from Melissa's chapbook, Rope as Witness, out this year from Pudding House:

Full Snow Moon

The bombers fly so close you feel their engines
in your chest though none can say
where they're headed or why

On the lake near my house boys dare each other
onto the frozen surface

The smallest brings the enormous weight of his fear
He drags it like a shadow

The conflation of the boys' macho posturing and war -- the enormous weight of his fear -- how boys and men find themselves in these precarious positions; and then the shadow. The poems do so much with such economy.

The title poem, "Rope as Witness to the Crime of the Tree," begins,

Self as the tongue of the bell

(in churches
and at bedsides

ringing) bell as the body

and as the rope

With the news reminding us of the symbolic power of ropes in trees, the implication of the self in this history is even more powerful.

I highly recommend this collection of short poems -- stunning and spiky, meditative and sharply focused, all at once.

Read other poems from the book here:

To order Rope as Witness, send $12.50 (s&h included) with a note indicating the title and author, with check, cash, or VISA/MC w/exp date to Pudding House, 81 Shadymere Lane, Columbus Ohio 43213 USA. Make checks payable to “Pudding House” or--Phone order by VISA/MC only: (614) 986-1881email order by VISA/MC only: Or contact the author at:

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