Oscar van Gelderen does this thing on Literary Hub where he uses ten quotes to summarize a piece of fiction, similar to a review using the author’s words to give the reader an idea of what the book is about. I love this concept and thought I would try it with a book of poetry. For my first try, I’m using Incorrect Merciful Impulses by Camille Rankine (Cooper Canyon Press, 2015).
In both my lives, my nerves go bust.
I’m certain that I’m not
as I appear, that I’m a figment and
you’re not really here. (7)
I want to hold you
but it comes all wrong
I am marooned
in this body
with no gift
for puppetry (19)
Is there anyone here
bedding the master, anyone hungry
as the night must be, lonely as Tuesday? (32)
I engulf with an affection from a chasm
in my gut, a sweet trapdoor, a heart-shaped hole,
a pretty well that threatens to swallow me up. (34)
When I feel hot, I push a button
to make it stop. I mean this stain on my mind
I can’t get out. How human
I seem. Like modern man, (38)
The grief is a planet. A dust ring.
A small moon that’s been changing
the way my body moves this whole time. (47)
I have no power here. I’m just a dummy swaddled
in worry and want, tethered
by two small rooms, a few small thoughts. (58)
In the meantime, America,
Limp with worry, bought out,
Fraying under God and needing
To be lowered to the ground and lit up. (61)
I was born in a forest.
I don’t know my name.
I was born on a mountain but changed
my mind. I was born
in the desert. All my people died
in the fire and left me
with the gods. They called me dust. (65)
At the shore, the water is rush
and retreat, taking my footprints
with it, a quiet delete. (68)