How Shadows Are Bundled

How Shadows Are Bundled

University of New Mexico Press, 2009
(126 pages, $21.95)
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“Anne Valley-Fox’s graceful observations are meditations for modern bodhisattvas. She is at once wise and questioning. She is a sensual and highly feminine poet, but unlike many of her ilk, she is not a narcissist. She is of the world. . . . How Shadows Are Bundled is a gift. One beautiful, important poem after another.”
-Suzi Winson, Editor of Fish Drum
“These poems, while deeply anchored in New Mexican reality, reach out in long, loping, elegant lines across the continent from California to Maine; from the profoundly feminine to authoritative androgyny; and also beyond reality to the surreal which is but the kingdom of the imagination. There is a novel inside each poem; the catalog of the world’s contents unfolds in highly imaginative scenarios with deadly serious playfulness though resting at frequent oases of beauty . . . . When what we dare to call “reality” erupts, it is fearsome and vivid . . . . Too concerned, involved and heart-struck to be anything but honest, Valley-Fox’s poems open out formally to let the news in, trying again and ‘again to perceive the shape that wants to be found.’ We have a treasure chest deep and wide.”
-Nathaniel Tarn, author of Ins and Outs of the Forest Rivers

Poems from How Shadows Are Bundled

Three Martinis

Each night the bartender spirits the napkins home
and stacks them on top of the others like a book.
Tonight the square beneath the novelist’s first martini
is marked with a bar graph crowned with rays, as
a lighthouse or phallus. The second napkin, rolled at
one edge, bears the words: Wm. James—feeling as
a legitimate form of the rational. After an hour, a third
napkin floats the martini glass—pitched roof in delicate
strokes, grasses penciled high around a barn. And
scribbled slantwise across it: Is meaning inserted
or found there?

Summer evenings the writer breaks from the bar to
slurred melon pastels. Tonight a snowstorm has soundlessly
changed the world. A pickup truck leaving the lot turns
too wide and mounts the sidewalk, missing the lone
pedestrian by a breath. The walker walks on, carrying
snow on his shoulders. A coward summons failure before
the finish . . . and what of his protagonist? Character
determines fate, yet in the realm of behavior, substitutes
are sometimes accepted—a tigress held in captivity nurses
a piglet . . . the third martini delivers you over the falls
in a barrel . . . a breakthrough may still be possible.

Because You Are Female

Because you are female and psyche is born from the body
you can’t imagine how it would feel (and feeling cracks
the seedpod containing the word)
to live in a male body
especially the years when a boy is rocketing into a man
you can’t even name the arid or tropical causes of his arousal
under cover of darkness or cloth
athletic organ engorges at random
while female excitement sparks in the mind
a rosy idea flushing neural pathways
spiraling down to the sanctum
thighs warm as bread from an oven
tongue soft in its cave
intuitive art the transposition of inner and outer
she readies herself to translate the force of his nature
and if her agenda is pleasure or procreation
it’s all right how afterward (even if later remorseful)
they split apart like cells in the bloodstream

Writing a Poem

The jazz musicians take a break from broken time in Lydian groove
I should have refused when someone asked me to read some poems
despite the jazzy oxygen I’m wrung dry the podium is oppressively
narrow I flip through a clutch of manuscript pages I’ve never seen
before like crazy people come to the door demanding you say their
names whining you promised to love them  it’s my sick addiction
to freshness if only I remembered the words the audience is sleepy
their lids at half‑mast what the hell I settle on something to read
a short list of historical dates typed in stingy letters and under this
Tyrants and Lovers which might have segued to helmets or poisonous
flowers but nothing follows and so I continue turning pages an old
friend’s jealous lover dumped a five‑pound bag of flour over his typer
he picked up a pen and didn’t stop writing; except to throw her out
I might have cited TV snow or pear blossoms a poem decides for itself
the tidy stalls of punctuation (a well‑placed period Coleridge wrote
like a spike to the heart) you have to know what you’re imitating test
the springboard one word selected over the others  Miss Switzerland
no wait I’ve changed my mind  Miss Venezuela makes more of a splash
we’re talking the Universe here  gestures intended but not results
the audience stays in their seats  lazy more than expectant  they’ve
given up on me  the Poetry Guard should take me out and shoot me
I go on perversely flipping pages and ten people are killed in a market
in Baghdad  all of them innocent of everything