Today, 15 Bytes features poet Nancy Takacs whose latest collection Juniper, a letterpress volume printed in a limited edition of 400 copies, was published in 2010 by Limberlost Press. Today she provides four poems, the last one yet-to-be-published.
Sunday Blog Read continues to collect a distinguished group of established and emerging Utah writers for your review and enjoyment. Past writers have included former and current Utah Poets Laureate Kate Coles and Lance Larsen, poet Michael McLane, short story writer Darrell Spencer, fiction writer Larry Menlove, memoirist Christopher Bigelow, poet Shanan Ballam, speculative fiction writer Steve Proskauer, fiction writer April Wilder, short fiction writer Calvin Haul, poet Joel Long, fiction writer Lynn Kilpatrick, nonfiction writer Phyllis Barber and, last month, poet David Hawkins.
So curl up with your favorite cup of joe and enjoy the work of Nancy Takacs!
Process at the Balance Rock Café
on the painting by David Dornan
Having written nothing again,
I take a walk in the junipers,
surprised by big-horned
sheep water-falling down
And now as I open the door
for today’s tomato bisque,
there is this:
a honey-stained dresser,
life-sized, I could have had as a child,
its big pulls like buttons,
top drawer partly open,
upright cans spilling
their colors over its wide body
like someone left his clothes in chaos,
waves of night lights, a Christmas tree,
blooming stars in true red and blue
from a crayon box, not from the artist’s
language of crimson or cadmium-something.
On the third drawer, a chamois
thick with gold and green fingerprints, drapes
partly lit near a forest for mixing
on the wall behind the dresser: leaves like kiwi-
and-sage eyes in a cartoon juniper.
A woman’s neck on the wall to the right
is phosphorescent like a peacock’s,
two turtles slipping into the pond of her breast.
The floor confettis in a loose beach
for the artist’s bare feet.
Now I know all I really love is color,
blood in the process, how truth
comes from the shuffle,
touched, moved aside, jumbled, left to wait
by the artist-dresser for his new wearer.
Now I know I need the sudden turquoise ear
inside the lemon yellow house,
lavender anemones over corrugated
ribs, the tin ribs, the bare ribs,
a whiteness more like a rose-cream,
orange into fluorescent-orange into red,
lipped over undercoats of lime, violet, battleship,
two mixing sticks with curves of chair legs,
swirled in milky blossom, left to balance
on the bottom drawer like whorled tight-ropes.
— first printed in Clover, a Literary Rag, Spring 2013
I learned the easiest way to work
was to submit. In Catholic school,
the same. So I bought a shark,
a little one for my tank. Cool
and sharp, he didn’t swim near others.
I liked to watch his fin, pretend
in all its yellow-violet flutters
he was happy, and could fend
off even the silver angel. It began
one night, as I ate Special K,
home late again from work, the bland
way the tetras nipped at him, tail
first, his pretty fin, and the next night
he was gone, as I turned on the light.
— first printed in Kestrel, Spring 2013
I still want the day to swim
with blue buntings, my fence
to cloud with hawkweed,
the greening field under it to rise
so the gate will not open.
I want a beard to ache near
my shoulder with breath
like long red flannel.
And sometimes I like being
alone with wedges of lime,
coconut milk, mint chutney,
chopping coriander, putting it
all in, not having to lie
about the garlic, folding up
a spring roll of new gatherings.
I want to ignore the warblers
warning me near the railroad tracks
about their nest inside the switch-lights.
What I want is this one deer
who yells in my field each night
for someone to let her out,
hounding me and my baby bok choy.
What I need is a good pork satay,
plain fried rice, and not to be
interrupted by dreams or secrets
or a walk in the garden.
I’d like to know how to build
a nest in April, how waxed wrappers
are shredded into trails of confetti,
and where I can find rose foil
the size of a penny.
I don’t know why my pineapple
curry and fried tofu have an aftertaste
like a walk after breakfast.
And I need to live inside lime.
I want to hear the unasked questions stir
instead of a Chihuahua on lambskin
or a red quilt from Canada
reviewed as “spicy as Kasmir,
as colorful as cloisonné.” I want
syrup revised with an attar of roses,
vanilla and violet in the same milk,
to feel how the needles
of hemlock dissolve in a pond,
and know under the surface
how long the trail of a rhizome
can be, for one blossom.
–first printed in Kestrel, Spring 2013
The Day I Gave Up Ambition
I felt the way watercolors
slide across the page,
an amaryllis unfolds
when you’re not looking,
my breath came to me
in tall cattails
along our desert ditch bank,
in stems of asparagus
sautéed with lime and chives
and butter, the day gave in
with an afternoon
that was so clear
I looked in the mirror
and saw every
road in the map
that had softened
each time it opened,
fallen into its creases.
Copyright, Nancy Takacs, 2014. Reprinted with the author’s permission.
Nancy Takacs lives in Wellington, Utah, and spends summers in Wisconsin on Lake Superior. She is the recipient of a 2014 Ucross writing residency, the 2013 Sherwin W. Howard Poetry Prize for “the best poems” in Weber — the Contemporary West, the Nation Discovery Award, and the Kay Saunders Poet Prize from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. A new book is forthcoming from Blue Begonia Press.