By now, many know the old story,
Frost tearing away at the page, struggling
to write the long important poem,
then going out to sneak a smoke and wait
for dawn, staring up at the deep night,
one errant red star dangling
from the handle of the dipper, almost
lost in the half moon’s haze, but there,
wavering at the edge of light, throwing off
its own halo. His cigarette trails sparks
when it arcs and fizzles in the wet grass.
Then he goes back in to write
about woods, about snow.
Click here to read an interview with Dorianne Laux.
A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Dorianne Laux‘s fourth book of poems, Facts about the Moon (W.W. Norton), was the recipient of the Oregon Book Award and short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also author of Awake (1990), What We Carry (1994), Smoke (2000), and Superman: The Chapbook (2008). Co-author of The Poet’s Companion, she’s the recipient of two Best American Poetry Prizes, a Best American Erotic Poems Prize, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The NEA, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her work has appeared in the Best of APR, The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, and many others. She taught for 15 years at the University of Oregon in Eugene and since 2004, at Pacific University’s Low-Residency MFA Program. She and her husband, poet Joseph Millar, recently moved to Raleigh where she joins the faculty at North Carolina State University.
“I recently moved from Oregon to North Carolina. The new house we moved into is so similar to the house we left behind that I sometimes wander the hallway at night with a spooky feeling of déjà vu, wondering why the light switch isn’t where I left it. Both are old-fashioned bungalows, humble Cape Cod style houses built in the 1920s with hardwood floors, crown moldings, brick fireplaces, sash cord windows and French doors. But the biggest difference is an important and obvious one: the new house has a real front porch. The old house had a slab of cement that could be called a porch, but it was really just a slab, maybe 5 foot square, no railings, barely enough room for a small pot of mums and a welcome mat. But the new house has a glorious front porch, with weathered balusters and a wide banister which takes you up three steps to a wood slat deck where I’ve placed a fire red, wrought iron bistro, the cafe table top swirling with broken chips of turquoise Italian tile. On dusky southern evenings I sit there and watch fire flies signal to their mates and listen to the sound of cicadas swell and recede, to the chatter of kids down the block who fall off their bikes and get back on, to the neighbors next door calling their dogs in before putting out the cat, the screen door slamming. And then long swaths of nothing, no sound at all for full minutes at a time. And then leaves in a slight breeze, a train whistle, the tea-colored moon breaking through scarves of clouds.”