Blakely, Diann

United States, (1957-2014)

Circe

  1. There’s adventure in home-life,
  2. though none of them saw it. They were hungry
  3. for oceans, the stretched sky, a taut sail.
  4. Their one trick was map-work, they prayed
  5. to pale gods, and tracked stars.
  6.  
  7. Yet such spaces oppressed them, they missed
  8. clean clothes, and forks. At home
  9. they’d had beds changed, the sheets tightened,
  10. uncreased. They complained of long hours,
  11. saw the sea become sluttish, slack-edged.
  12.  
  13. So they’ve come here to me, wanting
  14. mindlessness, limits. They will look
  15. to no stars, sleep at times I enforce.
  16. Drink’s strictly forbidden – they lick salt
  17. from my hand.
  18.  
  19. I saw usual cravings, and blessed them with snouts.

© Diann Blakely Shoaf. Hurricane Walk. BOA Editions, Ltd., (1992).

Running a Pig

  1. He ran through threshed fields
  2. as though it were fun. Our legs
  3. were both short, his squeals
  4. meant enjoyment, I thought.
  5.  
  6. Yet a pig – every part – can be eaten:
  7. the tongue, the feet, the sweet curling
  8. tail. I was thoroughly spanked:
  9. “That Pig cost a lot more than you.”
  10.  
  11. But it wasn’t my fault –
  12. I knew nothing of pigs. I visited only
  13. for two weeks each summer,
  14. and I always brought books – there often
  15.  
  16. seemed little to do. My smocked dresses
  17. were useless, a city child’s
  18. frills. I was soon plump from food
  19. meant for bodies that sweated,
  20.  
  21. and grew things. Still I learned
  22. they kept all the young separate.
  23. Sows can develop a taste
  24. for man’s flesh, are born with an urge
  25.  
  26. for their own. “Child, you fall once
  27. and that pig will run
  28. toward you, bite your pretty pink skin
  29. to the bone.”

© Diann Blakely Shoaf. Hurricane Walk. BOA Editions, Ltd., (1992).

About the Poet

Harriet Diann Blakely (also Diann Blakely Shoaf), United States, (1957-2014), poetry includes: Circe and Running a Pig. Blakely was an American poet, essayist, editor, and critic.

She taught at Belmont University, Harvard University, Vanderbilt University, led workshops at two Vermont College residencies, and served as senior instructor and the first poet-in-residence at the Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee. A “Robert Frost Fellow” at Bread Loaf, Blakely was a Dakin Williams Fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference at which she had worked earlier as founding coordinator.

Blakely was a former poetry editor at the Antioch Review and at New World Writing and served on Plath Profiles’ board. She contributed essays, poetry, and reviews to that journal and to many other publication, including the Harvard Review, Nashville Scene, Village Voice Media, Pleiades, and Smartish Pace.

Diann Blakely’s much anticipated Lost Addresses: New & Selected Poems was published by Salmon Poetry in February 2017. [DES-04/18]

Additional information:

Editor’s Note:

A while, back, Diann Blakely kindly called my attention to the pig poetry of William Matthews. Blakely was a student of Matthews, and he remained her mentor as her writing career began.

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.