Sunday, December 7, 2014



AFTER-CAVE by Michelle Detorie
(Ahsahta Press, Boisie, ID, 2014)

The biggest compliment I can pay to any piece of writing is to be compelled to write a poem as I read through it.  Well, I ended up with a poem after reading Michelle Detorie’s AFTER CAVE and, nope, I’d had no intention of writing a poem at the time I opened the book.  I actually began this list poem with just an idea to jot down some notes as I read through it—notations of what I’d called “take-aways” from reading the book.  But it became a poem entitled “POST CAVE.”

The links between the poem’s and Detorie’s book’s title is obvious.  What’s not obvious are how the poem got generated.  Sometimes, I used some of the same words.  Sometimes, Detorie’s words inspired concepts not necessarily using the same vocabulary.  Here’s an example of one line’s inspiration: the sixth line, “I forgot data is not without gender” was written after I read “THE DATA IS FEMININE.”  Also, I've been writing a lot of "I Forgot" poems and the application of the phrase came up because AFTER CAVE evokes for me that period in human development known as hunter-gatherer (vs. agricultural) stage.  For some indigenous scholars, that period was one where people's connection to their environment was more respected--they lived from what they hunted and gathered, thus were more respectful of other creatures and the planet.

Without further ado—and gratitude to Detorie for having written such an evocative, moving book—here’s my response-poem (the three parts mirror the three sections of the book):


I forgot the feral is so fragile.

I forgot animals coo.

I forgot how kindness can be careless—how kindness can break.

I forgot dusk is glass.

I forgot the tragedy of how a scissor became a twin.

I forgot data is not without gender.

I forgot a machine is a machine for bearing no heart—there really is no such thing as a Tin Man.

I forgot the threshold of when ricochets become one too many, thus loosening grasp and birthing loss.

I forgot to sing is to desire audience.

I forgot a cloud is also an animal—it travels across a mountain on legs.

I forgot sympathy is a form of desire.

I forgot how easily a shark fin melts into oil slick.

I forgot the moat circling a home fashioned from bones cleansed to define radiance under a noonday sun.

I forgot the thick book of glass pages, each etched with a silver paw.


I forgot the vertigo of snow blindness—some birds dive towards the sky.

I forgot shapes don’t discriminate between heart and fist and South Carolina.

I forgot the sound of hair burning, and scenting tar.


I forgot to be animal is to be political.

I forgot noticing the ivory claw curved over the edge of a hole, then hearing the high-pitched plea emanating from its creature when it still was covered in fur.

I forgot sisters are stronger than brothers, and weaker.

I forgot bread collapsing into itself.

I forgot the implacability of hunting.

I forgot when trees rebelled.

I forgot dogness is goodness if we let one eye form the missing “o”—which is to say, if we allow hope.

I forgot hoping, “it will be you”


Eileen Tabios reveals something about herself in ARDUITY'S interview about what's hard about her poetry.  Her just-released poetry collection, SUN STIGMATA (Sculpture Poems), received a review by Amazon Hall of Famer reviewer Grady Harp.  Due out in 2015 will be her second "Collected Poems" project; while her first THE THORN ROSARY was focused on the prose poem form, her forthcoming INVEN(S)TORY will focus on the list or catalog poem form.  More information at 

1 comment:

  1. Another view is offered by John Bloomberg-Rissman in this issue, GR #23, at