Two Prairie Style Poems from C.S Giscombe

photo: Susan Jaffer (purloined from the EPC site).

Because it is my pleasure, I share with you two of C.S. Giscombe's poems each with the title "Prairie Style" from his book of the same name published in 2008 by The Dalkey Archive. Saw an excerpt from this on Aldon Nielsen's blog and had to get the book. Giscombe's book was a winner of The Before Columbus Foundations'2008 American Book Awards. If you want to hear Giscombe reading click here.


The direction going out--in the business past direction then and
avoiding love's blunt teeth there. Done with houses and wanting to be
seen as a boundary or as a line of plot re-appearing, done with all that
too. Houses cleave and, to me, it all gets hammered out in overstatement--
love's a terror, a revelation cleaving to contours. Love's a terror,
in town and out of town too.

I was an unqualified marker, some days the ache of an implicit region.
Nothing to the bear but bad hair. Having missed the trace the first time
through I found coming a specificity hard to pronounce: rive of unaccented
speech, a single voice to mark it all off. Well this is namelessness
up here, this inward, and nothing but the curl will do.

Love's over there, to me, the old terror.


A sexual image about the prairie ought to be a good idea: it'd have no
meaning in a larger context and its existence, furiously local, might make
outline itself a high level of vernacular--the image might be the sum of
dire and hopeless songs, more of an after-image really. Love
might be, in general, a revelation but sex could have a shape
or a figure with which one could remember it; the speaker could recognize
it or could himself cause recognition to occur. Love might be a terror--the hesitation past town--but sex could be content and outline both, until the
watcher (or the listener) turns away.

Male, female. Black men say trim. An outline's sameness is, finally, a
reference. Towns, at a distance, are that--how they appear at first, a
dim cluster, and then from five or six miles off; how they look when
you're only three miles away. Inbetween sightings is the prairie itself
to get across: trek, trace, the trick of landscape. Love suffers its wish-
fulness--it's an allegorical value and the speaker mimes allegory with
descriptions of yearning, like the prairie's joke on us (among us). In-
land's a name, a factory, something to say; the thing upon which the image verges, the thing push articulates.

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