and other poems
By Ruth Moose
ISBN 13: 978-1-59948-207-1
96 pages, $14
MSR Online Bookstore
Author Bio / Samples / Comments
About the Author
Ruth Moose has taught creative writing at UNC-Chapel Hill since l996. Author of two books of short stories, The Wreath Ribbon Quilt (St. Andrews Press) and Dreaming in Color (August House) as well as five other poetry collections, her poems and stories have appeared Atlantic Monthly, Redbook, Prairie Schooner, Yankee, The Nation, Christian Science Monitor and other places. Her stories have been published in England, Holland, South Africa, and Denmark. She received a McDowell Colony Fellowship and most recently, in 2008, a Chapman Fellowship for teaching.
Ruth Moose's spare lyrical language dramatizes the search for significant acts, the spark of connections made.
If this collections does nothing else, it will forever erase our stereotype of a librarian (prim spinster always with finger to lips shushing all sound from her immaculate, silent headquarters.) This librarian is fully woman, fully alive, and not only tolerating the words of others, but speaking out herself with verve and courage. Always hovering at her shoulder is the spirit of HWLWG--He Who Left Without Goodbye. You'll weep, chuckle and cheer as this gutsy woman deals with bits of her daily life--and those bits produced in Moose's exact language, shimmer with new significance.
Ruth Moose's poems have always been grounded in a certainty that gives every line its profound authority--that where we live and how we live matter more than anything else, that "here" is where the mystery resides, each detail of it claiming its rightful place in the scheme of the poem, in the narrative of our lives.
--Kathryn Stripling Byer
The Librarian has a cat.
Of course. What did you expect?
A pit bull? Though her cat, Percy
Has the personality of a pit bull.
Loves to bare his teeth, always
Takes her best
And favorite chair, refuses to move.
Hisses when she approaches.
Yesterday, she beat him to it,
Sat down to a damp and wet
Hairball, dark, fuzzy and disgusting
Which she promptly flushed,
Then aired the cushion. Meanwhile,
Percy washed his paws with a spiteful
Grin sitting on the flagstone hearth
Before her unlit gas logs. What
Did you expect here? A cozy
Little fire in her cozy little house?
Not her. Not here. She pours
Herself a glass of Jim Beam,
Never sherry. Jim is her guy
At the hell end of a hell day.
The Librarian Stops by the Flower Shop
She buys herself an orchid.
The shape of the petals is vulvardian.
(A word she just made up.)
She admires how orchid blossoms
Open themselves to life, to light.
The color of this orchid, a shinning
Purple/mauve is one shed like
To become. To open her own parts
Out like that. Shed like to be
As vibrant as a shout, a holy, happy
Color. Phalenopsis, friend
of the butterfly, the bee, exotic
as a bird in this bland landscape
of a plainly lived life
where she is black and white
print among the pages, naked
between the lines.
The Duct Men
The duct cleaners came in a white van
painted with Miracle in red. They hoisted,
hauled, clanked a machine big as a Volkswagen
up my stairs and down.
They snaked a hose, stuffed with bristles
round and round thirty-five feet to the furnace below.
I heard years of accumulated dust and dirt
and everything that fell through the grids,
go into the stomach of that growling machine.
It hummed as it ate the residue of the librarian
who lived here before us, who entertained foxes
in the attic, raccoons in the den, an opossum
in the bath until she found her true love
on line and fled this house to live in bliss
Here too, was the residue
of the Optometrist who painted all
the kitchen walls black, the downstairs
bath dark brown. I wondered if these
duct cleaners saw what wallpaper would do?
Did do? Of course not.
They only kept cleaning
out cobwebs, mold, pet fur,
dust mites and maybe even the
last miniscule remains
of the husband I had.
How Many Widows Does it Take
to Change a Lightbulb?
One to recognize the bulb is dead.
Two to determine no one is coming to change it.
Three to find the replacement bulb.
Four to unscrew the old one, hands shaking
all the while not knowing if the electricity is on.
Worry the old bulb will shatter in their fingers.
Five to put the new one in.
Six to flip the switch, relieved to see the light come on.
All the widows in the world forever standing in a line
reach the moon and back and none of them, Andromache,
Ophelia, Helen (for awhile), can explain
why the light went out and where
the source of it lives.