Synopses & Reviews
Citizen, Poet (excerpt)
Election Day breaks ravishing. The bald cypress shakes free
its needles and spits its most favored word: libertine.
The crows trade cigarettes and tear through the trees
scattering prayer candles & Sacagawea dollars. As for me,
if elected, I will peel back the black earth and lay bare
what is scratched there: Poet, liar, citizen of the unconscious.
And yet, with all the ancient liberties and free customs,
the ballots are burned with aplomb. The wind dies down,
and it’s unanimous. I am expelled with a hacksaw, a faint
salute, a nosegay of orange nasturtium & wilting
honeysuckle. On the surface, the old streets wind bright
and unmappable. I cannot measure the length
of the hours or recall the name of each ashen face.
Pliny the Elder turns out to be unreliable.
Crows do not speak with a split tongue, and wine
is rife with lies. The shadow of bruised black feathers
cast long in the mind of the returned. I cannot flirt the comforts
now. No. But I will carry this dark cinder for the nation.
About the Author
Wendy Willis splits her time between her roles as mother, poet, and advocate for democracy. Wendy was raised in Lane County, Oregon, in a family of tough and loving women, nearly all of whom could make a mean pie. Now, she lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, the poet David Biespiel; his son Lucas; her two daughters, Ruby and Violet. They also share their home with two big dogs, a rambly garden, and an assortment of fish.
Wendy’s first book, Blood Sisters of the Republic, was released by Press 53 on October 1, 2012. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Policy Consensus Initiative, a national non-profit organization devoted to improving democratic governance. In addition to publishing poetry and essays in a variety of national and regional journals and serving as an adjunct fellow in poetry at the Attic Institute, Wendy has served as a federal public defender and as the law clerk to Chief Justice Wallace P. Carson, Jr. of the Oregon Supreme Court. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Law Center and holds a B.A. from Willamette University. She is currently completing her M.F.A. in poetry at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.