Book cover: 'the last will be stone, too' by Deborah Poe

the last will be stone, too

A selection from the last will be stone, too

Les Feuilles Mortes

what there is not, love, is sun
but memories’ casualties
curtain billows
only for slight light to rift
along with few autumn leaves
more gold in their intrusion

a rug both plant and animal
you rise above—
chest’s five arches open—
oh the androgynous fashion
the way one is drawn in

sitting one foot forward
cleavage of body and matter
I wind the yarn tied invisibly to the center of you
what breaks out is birds

faceless grey shadow
moss pockets memory floor to ceiling
walls semi-soundproofed
curtains motion soundless
noise a bloodshed recollection
leaves admit and defy at once

ghost disclosures
continue this conversation
on empty chair, bench, mantel

in the heart of the room,
I pulled at the center of you,
and life came spilling out.

Reader impressions

Deborah Poe’s the last will be stone, too is wildly ambitious and gorgeously successful–a series of poems based on artwork engaging somehow with death, from artists as diverse as Andres Serrano and the fashioners of Tutankhamen’s funeral collar. The poems enact for us a vision of human consciousness contemplating its own end. It’s a vision always aware of both our ability to evade the knowledge of mortality and the strength of our spirits in the face of its persistence. In this tension we locate our humanness; as Poe writes, “I pulled at the center of you,/and life came spilling out” (“Les Feuilles Mortes”). Using all the tools of the page’s architecture, the occasional borrowed text, and her considerable lyric gifts and intellect, Poe makes of her bardo journey a metaphysical tightrope walk without a net, one I look forward to making with her again and again. I know of few poets who would dare to tackle such subjects tackle head-on; I know none who would emerge from the struggle so triumphant as Poe.

— Suzanne Paola