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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Lee Ann Roripaugh’s “Dandarians”

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Hola, Hola

I misread my horoscope this morning. What I thought it said: “The
leaves on the permission tree outside your door are growing so fast . . .”

So let me ask you: Do you have a permission tree? Is it blooming? Do
the pale green twigs and buds make a fragrant spring tea? If I agree
to read the swirl of tea leaves cast across the bottom of your cup, what
will happen next?

How to ripen permission fruit: Place in a brown paper bag. Let them
soften in the dry heat of the attic stairs. Nip the tomato-colored skin
with your teeth and peel it easily away with your fingers. Slip the
warm flesh into your mouth.

Paradigmatic Structure:

The permission tree is distinct from other arboreal species by its yes-
shaped leaves, ability to decode the rhetorical gestures of the wind,
and penchant for attracting brightly-colored lichen.

Syntagmatic Structure:

The permission tree is one of several mythological trees existing in
the insufficiently-caffeinated minds of people with wild eyes and
disheveled hair. It is ontologically suspect, and, like other ciphers of
similar taxonomy, should (probably) be treated with caution. If one
should happen to come across this tree in passing, one should (prob-
ably) just ignore it and keep walking through it, even though cool
leaves brush the hot lump that quietly glows like a molten coal in
your sternum. Never mind the lump. It is only spectral.

                           Dónde está?

                          Approach: Ripe persimmons

                          Avoid: Disguise them in a brown paper bag

                          Approach: Ripe permissions

                          Avoid: Hide them in a brown paper bag

                          (Just give me what I want and no one gets hurt . . .)

This selection comes from Lee Ann Roripaugh’s book Dandarians, available from Milkweed Editions. Purchase your copy here!

Lee Ann Roripaugh is the author of four volumes of poetry, the most recent of which, Dandarians, was released by Milkweed Editions in September 2014.  Her second volume, Year of the Snake (Southern Illinois University Press), was named winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in Poetry/Prose for 2004, and her first book, Beyond Heart Mountain (Penguin Books), was a 1998 winner of the National Poetry Series.  The recipient of a 2003 Archibald Bush Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship, she was also named the 2004 winner of the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, the 2001 winner of the Frederick Manfred Award for Best Creative Writing awarded by the Western Literature Association, and the 1995 winner of the Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize.

Her short stories have been shortlisted as stories of note in the Pushcart Prize anthologies, and two of her essays have been shortlisted as essays of note for the Best American Essays anthology.  Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  Roripaugh is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Director of Creative Writing and Editor-in-Chief of South Dakota Review.  She is also a faculty mentor for the University of Nebraska low-residency M.F.A. in Writing, and served as a 2012 Kundiman faculty mentor alongside Li-Young Lee and Srikanth Reddy.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Lee Ann Roripaugh’s “Dandarians”

dandarians-web

Fibonacci 

A bouquet of prickles and stings. You weigh each thistled scale one by
one, drizzle with euphemisms: creamy, nutty, fleshy, green.

What will happen when I’ve gifted all my nettles away? What’s left?
Steamed flower to scoop clean out. Edible, pressure-cooked heart.

You’re plucky and buttery, ruthless in your mathematics of extrac-
tions and subtractions. A Fibonacci series of unpetaling.

                       (Can you squeeze a lemon on me?)

Seismic shifts, things unhinge:

Relax with ice and slit the resistant muscle, or steam open the shell.
Do not pry, and do not suck.

                       (The ice, the knife, the glove . . . )

Earthworms rise to the surface, throb and bake in fierce light. Mole
rats head-drum their portents. Catfish thrash in a tumult of silt.

                        O harmonic tremor, o earthquake!

                        O, sweet giant!

                        O beautiful tsunami!

This selection comes from Lee Ann Roripaugh’s book Dandarians, available from Milkweed Editions. Purchase your copy here!

Lee Ann Roripaugh is the author of four volumes of poetry, the most recent of which, Dandarians, was released by Milkweed Editions in September 2014.  Her second volume, Year of the Snake (Southern Illinois University Press), was named winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in Poetry/Prose for 2004, and her first book, Beyond Heart Mountain (Penguin Books), was a 1998 winner of the National Poetry Series.  The recipient of a 2003 Archibald Bush Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship, she was also named the 2004 winner of the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, the 2001 winner of the Frederick Manfred Award for Best Creative Writing awarded by the Western Literature Association, and the 1995 winner of the Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize.

Her short stories have been shortlisted as stories of note in the Pushcart Prize anthologies, and two of her essays have been shortlisted as essays of note for the Best American Essays anthology.  Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  Roripaugh is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Director of Creative Writing and Editor-in-Chief of South Dakota Review.  She is also a faculty mentor for the University of Nebraska low-residency M.F.A. in Writing, and served as a 2012 Kundiman faculty mentor alongside Li-Young Lee and Srikanth Reddy.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Lee Ann Roripaugh’s “Dandarians”

RoripaughHeadShot

Spillover

                                                         1.

So cold, the car’s rear window disintegrates in a smooth evaporating
whoosh. One moment it’s there, the next ringing down onto the snow
in a spangled jangle of shards like a spilled sheet of ice. This crash.
This unlikely breakage. Is this brokenness a broken thing or a thing
breaking open to let something else in?

                                                         2.

In an e-mail, you write: You were the first boy I ever kissed. For at
least a week after, quietly stifling in my parents’ house of unrealizable
expectations, I’d sometimes close my eyes and think about that kiss . . .
and there’d be a soft little flip-flop. Like an egg—flipped over easy—in
the skillet of my stomach.

                                                          3.

Outside, below zero. Only snow, and stars, and dark. Thin white rind
of ice glazing the windows. Inside the heat of the car, they tumble
like socks in a dryer.

                                                          4.

You forgot the hot dark burn of it, like a fragrant scald of coffee
poured over frozen cubes, combustion of hot and cold shattering
glass, sepia pooling on the counter around softening lumps of ice,
slight hiss of steam misting up. You want to avoid the shattering—
the mess and danger of it—but you love the burning, even though it
seems too much to hold inside.

                                                           5.

You crack open an egg filled with pale flame into someone’s open
palms. Because they are there. Because their hands are held out to
you. So did all the rawness, the gold fire, always belong to them all
along?

                                                           6.

A night of too much wine, your nervous system all diamond-flinted
sparks and burning neon tracers—scalded stars sliding down the
sky’s frozen cheek.

                                                           7.

Sometimes you accidentally break things because you can’t believe
they were meant for you in the first place—too fragile, too unex-
pected, too much like something you knew you wanted too much.
It must be for someone else, you convince yourself. This is just a story
I’ve made up to tell myself inside my head. You’re too shy to hold out
your hand, something slips and spills into the in between and breaks,
something you wanted to ask for, but you still don’t know if it was
ever yours to break in the first place.

This selection comes from Lee Ann Roripaugh’s book Dandarians, available from Milkweed Editions. Purchase your copy here!

Lee Ann Roripaugh is the author of four volumes of poetry, the most recent of which, Dandarians, was released by Milkweed Editions in September 2014.  Her second volume, Year of the Snake (Southern Illinois University Press), was named winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in Poetry/Prose for 2004, and her first book, Beyond Heart Mountain (Penguin Books), was a 1998 winner of the National Poetry Series.  The recipient of a 2003 Archibald Bush Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship, she was also named the 2004 winner of the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, the 2001 winner of the Frederick Manfred Award for Best Creative Writing awarded by the Western Literature Association, and the 1995 winner of the Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize.

Her short stories have been shortlisted as stories of note in the Pushcart Prize anthologies, and two of her essays have been shortlisted as essays of note for the Best American Essays anthology.  Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  Roripaugh is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Director of Creative Writing and Editor-in-Chief of South Dakota Review.  She is also a faculty mentor for the University of Nebraska low-residency M.F.A. in Writing, and served as a 2012 Kundiman faculty mentor alongside Li-Young Lee and Srikanth Reddy.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Lee Ann Roripaugh’s “Dandarians”

dandarians-web

Imprint

Yesterday’s air bristling Japanese beetles—all metallic pinch and ping.

Grasshoppers Jiffy Popping under a blue aluminum dome.

A stray dog day cicada, stranded on its back on the path, rattling its
dry gourd of a body with a mechanical wind-up toy’s stutter and
twitch.

All rescinded after a single morning’s chilled rain. Leaf prints mold-
scored onto asphalt. An immolation of orange and yellow burnings
stilled to silhouetted ash and char.

           (The imprint of your body fading too quickly from my bed.)

Was it an erasure, or was it a swallowing? Or the shimmered turning
of a purse inside out to reveal the silky lining?

Leaves glisten. The dock is drizzle-slick. Sky an uncertain pearling
of abalone.

            (And yes, I have been turned utterly inside out.)

So what other choice is there, if not to simply give oneself up to the
rain—to glisten, shine, and pearl uncertainly into this very absence,
this same ache, this lambent and indefinite quiet?

This selection comes from Lee Ann Roripaugh’s book Dandarians, available from Milkweed Editions. Purchase your copy here!

Lee Ann Roripaugh is the author of four volumes of poetry, the most recent of which, Dandarians, was released by Milkweed Editions in September 2014.  Her second volume, Year of the Snake (Southern Illinois University Press), was named winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in Poetry/Prose for 2004, and her first book, Beyond Heart Mountain (Penguin Books), was a 1998 winner of the National Poetry Series.  The recipient of a 2003 Archibald Bush Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship, she was also named the 2004 winner of the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, the 2001 winner of the Frederick Manfred Award for Best Creative Writing awarded by the Western Literature Association, and the 1995 winner of the Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize.

Her short stories have been shortlisted as stories of note in the Pushcart Prize anthologies, and two of her essays have been shortlisted as essays of note for the Best American Essays anthology.  Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  Roripaugh is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Director of Creative Writing and Editor-in-Chief of South Dakota Review.  She is also a faculty mentor for the University of Nebraska low-residency M.F.A. in Writing, and served as a 2012 Kundiman faculty mentor alongside Li-Young Lee and Srikanth Reddy.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Lee Ann Roripaugh’s “Dandarians”

RoripaughHeadShot

From part 3 of the poem Annealing

Handle With Care

Cold so cold it makes you feel see-through. Breakable and delicate.
Harbor your crockery of bones in a packing crate full of old socks.

Sun’s cold high beam glaring everywhere—ricocheting off snow,
stretching sky’s dome like a taut blue balloon, sluicing in through
every window. You want to drink it in deep thirsty gulps, the cold of
it numbing the back of your throat and throbbing your temples, the
cold of it an erasing tide against the hot ache in your chest, the cold of
it easing the tight muscular lump of things better left unsaid.

You promise yourself to stop worrying so much about feeling like a
mollusk without a shell. Like an unpeeled grape. Marred by unex-
pected grit. That ungainliness of having been tuned too tightly, like
the E-string on a violin pitched sharp.

Yesterday, slipperiness and flakes sifting anxiously through air.
Something of worth relentlessly ground down in a lapidary shop. But
then a soft plush of snow. Cool goose down comforter drawn up over
everything to cover the trees’ dishabille.

All this clean cold light. You’d like to dive right into its blindingly
icy flashpoint.

This selection comes from Lee Ann Roripaugh’s book Dandarians, available from Milkweed Editions. Purchase your copy here!

Lee Ann Roripaugh is the author of four volumes of poetry, the most recent of which, Dandarians, was released by Milkweed Editions in September 2014.  Her second volume, Year of the Snake (Southern Illinois University Press), was named winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in Poetry/Prose for 2004, and her first book, Beyond Heart Mountain (Penguin Books), was a 1998 winner of the National Poetry Series.  The recipient of a 2003 Archibald Bush Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship, she was also named the 2004 winner of the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, the 2001 winner of the Frederick Manfred Award for Best Creative Writing awarded by the Western Literature Association, and the 1995 winner of the Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize.

Her short stories have been shortlisted as stories of note in the Pushcart Prize anthologies, and two of her essays have been shortlisted as essays of note for the Best American Essays anthology.  Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  Roripaugh is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Director of Creative Writing and Editor-in-Chief of South Dakota Review.  She is also a faculty mentor for the University of Nebraska low-residency M.F.A. in Writing, and served as a 2012 Kundiman faculty mentor alongside Li-Young Lee and Srikanth Reddy.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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