HOW TO BE RESPONSIBLE
When the respiratory system says,
I don’t feel like being a network right now,
you have developed a giant disorder.
You breathe out of order. It doesn’t totally suck.
It staggers. It’s not like being a hook.
It’s more like being a hook ladder.
Like the silence that sometimes accompanies the
unexpected. What are your ears hearing?
I mean move over falling days,
I am attempting to be responsible.
No imitation breathing. It is inadequate.
What to do with what you have heard?
Hammer, anvil, stirrup—the bones
that form a bridge in the ear need to
form a bridge elsewhere in the dark.
Darkness a bet you make again
and again. You are asked to accept
the fantastic. It’s so fantastic.
Accept it. Someone says, Emotions
don’t have brains. And someone is right.
It’s a different way to dance. Mind
no longer content to move around
the circumference, mind makes a big leap,
becomes a telescope ladder. A significant
vertical exposure. An altered heart.
I forget approximately.
excerpt: "Goat in the Snow" and "How to Control a Blackout" @ PEN Poetry Series
interview by Jack Christian @ BOMBlog
$25 limited edition broadside & book deal
Poetry | $15 Perfect-bound. 72 pp
6 x 9 in.
Emily Pettit has included a number of “how to” poems in her nimble and dazzling first collection, such as: “How To Make No Noise,” and the especially useful “How To Avoid Confronting Most Large Animals.” Her kindness is always ahead of us, anticipating the problems we will or won’t run into, and we always end up in a different, precise place than the one we started out from, as she reassuringly tells us: “You know/ you know you know. It’s all uncertainty/ and your neck. You walk slowly/ in a calm voice.” Goat In The Snow is multicolored, ever-changing, a delight to try to clasp.
Goat in the Snow is like a taste test between an etch-a-sketch and a spotlight, a race between a wind-up beetle and an idea. The certainty of Pettit’s “I know,” and “I think” quickly turns into a quicksand of questions. Perceptive, jumpy and perfectly odd, this book encourages you to “try to maneuver like a spacecraft/ passing sufficiently close to a planet /in order to make some relatively detailed observations / Without landing.”
The poems in Goat in the Snow often ask odd, penetrating questions. “What do you call a field of black telephones ringing?” “Where did you find such a stunning embankment?” “Is this what loving someone is like?” “Do you remember the basement?” “In what direction do you look when someone says something true?” These poems are full of mortal awareness, and are sophisticated without being ornate or “poetic.” When the poet says, “Once in modest and murky water, I had a very disturbing conversation with a boat,” I don’t feel as if she is writing in metaphor. I feel like something real has happened.
Emily Pettit is the author of two chapbooks How (Octopus Books) and What Happened to Limbo (Pilot Books). She is an editor for notnostrums and Factory Hollow Press, as well as the publisher of jubilat. She teaches at Flying Object.