award-winning author of nine books of poetry, including From Nothing, winner of the Julia Ward Howe Award and most recently Blood Labors, named one of the Best Poetry Books of 2018 by the New York Times




The Cat’s Eye Nebula—one could begin there as a way of showing how being folds in upon itself, always to form new configurations. That’s where we’re from, the vast compounded into the covert as if all were the sum of a hidden vector; and why I ply my art without a staple, shaping each shear assemblage of plates into what I wish, these bursting petals out of a glue-less flatland that I wrap to sculpt into their own particular warp in space and time. With me, all reduces to a page of elementals, rescued into some new panoply, secured for the time being in situ—my own seducer, enwound by the delicacy of my desire, the artifice in which I would reside, and do. If they remain merely these brief renderings, they keep nonetheless the fiber of things passing, like late afternoon pools after showers that disappear in loops of process, lithe, un-regarded spools that only seem intricate cuts, heart- less, the inevitable goings of the earth. With every misstep, with every fraught lapse, one seeks a new ordering, sudden leaps of the unforeseen that answer pleas, or appear to, a twist before which failure pales. I venture the fold, the pleat, the scar, the code by which geometries of arcs come clear to the mind, with every edit harboring evidence of a new tide, the saint behind the stain, or at the fringe a center plain to the patient finger— the weather’s wreathe of incipient snow in which spring’s last, early layers are sown; which is not to say in the hour of the wolf there is no bitterness in the flow, or the looking back brokenly at the last, resolving then into a pillar of salt, the fleeting prospect that was Lot’s true inheritance, his marriage to the lost. To make these creased tessellations rife ores out of which fish swim blindingly from roes and all of that flaming to a rose— is to conjure skin that skeins without a sore as seconds famish, flourish to an era. What I want to say, is that all we are at core is something like an attending ear and the world an infinitely facile veil, the migrant medium of where we live. Think of an expanse of winter field, its impression that, in time, nothing’s filed, that all that was there quietly rinses away into the whiteness, like resins glazing in sunlight. A song of sirens could not be more vagrant, its dis-ease harrows and lures us as, at the seaside, one hears a hush from the deepest shelf that calls to every increment of flesh. It is the lone presence of the sensual through which the spirit sings and unseals, like those paper butterflies a king saw in his dream, saw they were what he was. Hardest hatreds, scattered threads, trash, despair— I fold, and sink, and sound, until it’s praised.

from Blood Labors by Daniel Tobin (Four Way Books)

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