Wednesday, October 20, 2010

All Of Your Messages Have Been Erased by Vivian Shipley

All Of Your Messages Have Been Erased

Vivian Shipley

Louisiana Literature Press

ISBN 978-0-945083-28-3

2010 $14.95


"but you will still inhale my history"

In trying to live with the full, "squall", tipping the poetic boat ,

to the point of sickness, Shipley's poems rock reality, like a sibling

who always excels at everything, and finds no comfort trying

to speak with a father who is always composing in his head:


"Who cherishes the crooked, the stained, the crossed eyed?

Here for forty-seven years, silence has embalmed me,

I will die soon. I was twenty-eight in 1935 when with chain

linked logic my mother and Giorgio, my brother, quarantined

me for life in this asylum outside of Paris. For them, everything

was either flat or upright. I was not insane, but they wanted

to cage their history, razor my face out of family photos.

At first, I used to hurl a pewter vase into my window to hear

something break. Some days I never unclenched my teeth.

but helium filled, my anger defated. Now, I keep my pain

walled, knowing it's all there is left to feel. My body sloughed

off home. Yet, Because memory is a tapeworm threading

through my veins, in spring, I can not sit on a lawn chair near

purple lilac. I am seventy-five. I can't tourniquet my nerves

but I have been able to dam expectations, even in my heart."…


We are forced to hold our breath while the poems hold us under

water. Opening our eyes trying not to resist before our last

breath escapes and we drown or push ourselves to the surface.

Coming from a place we are not at home with. The individual

experiences in this book, each poem expose us to the inner

longings of others:


"…fingering the peel like Braille or a palm reader unable to predict

her own future. I had stored my poems on a disk, turning from

words that flattened injustice, unwilling to file genital mutilation

under G, rape under R. I was a woman of action, pictured Eve

barging up the river…"


and the others become part of the history, so long dismissed, so

many clouds hiding a sliver moon, even the full moon,

that feminine presence which silhouettes so many woody waves

that some people find themselves walking on water or trying

to traverse the night, without a map. so many stars can be seen

when Shipley puts us in touch, lifts our heads out of the water,

takes the apple out of our mouth and reads to us.

Irene Koronas


Ibbetson Street Press

Poetry Editor

Wilderness House Literary Review

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