Last month we were proud to release Tell Me Every Anchor Every Arrow, the first full-length book of poetry by Steffi Drewes. Praise from Brian Teare for this new title:
This is one of the most exuberant debuts I’ve ever read. Precious few poets go so undaunted by the extravagant plastic possibilities of syntax; fewer still so readily measure their lines “in thumbprints or dumplings/in trees not planted or one-syllable birdcalls.” To be enthused once meant to be possessed by a god, and indeed these poems recall sibylline speech, alternately sublime and divinely silly. The only check on Drewes’ channeling of music’s alternative knowledge is her rigorous intelligence, which she employs to make of failure—to love, to understand, or to come to terms with an experience—a durable enchantment. By her sights, these failures take flight as poems as light and artfully made as kites. By dint of feint and sleight of hand, they zephyr upward fueled by accident, swerve, and skew.
A stranger’s bare palm on my lower back so I think of sand
Unwinding my nerves, though no one told me how
I’ve been here before, slow tracing an alphabet, sinking
Words that don’t exist yet, under this skin, under this half-light
Some knots are stubborn: invisible planets
Objects & bones dissolve & only the wrist doesn’t bend
Easily, or even by accident, my arm long & pale, a swan’s neck
Striking a pose I’ve always longed for, a periscope
A particular body drawn in black & white, shaking the season
Out of our limbs, licking the salt, watching the sky
Solidify & fall into our salad until the smallest leaf
Is just pretending to be bright & worth picking
Little miss green thumb had a garden of lies, a closet of lovers
A bowl of fresh eggs, with a whimper, what fractures
Each memory explodes like tossing out the stemware, sparkling
Shards in the storm cellar, in spite of the map, I only think I see a lake
When you open your mouth, there is little to latch onto
When we excavate an ant colony it calls for tunnels & antennae
Loads of cement to match the walls we’ve unearthed, what an abyss
Believe my veins grow stronger at the sound of spun wool
Scratch my back with a foxtail with this dust-covered feather
Cut the circuitry between all things discarded & who comes up
Empty, what is the most weightless word you know
I could be joking, my heart could be failing as we snore
A weak aorta or overpass, because the slightest murmur
Alters the architecture of a body, note the glare of new
Hubcaps, note the grit from a street sweeper, so easily hypnotized
By dust & every time my heel slips I have to count to dawn
Pour another prayer in the birdbath, a dream of
Smoother skin though squinting is inevitable, make a fist
Now an open palm, until we’re back to sorting grains of sand
& every time I hold the phone I imagine whales
That will not speak to me & only you can translate
CENTRIFUGAL LOVE SONG
Disconnect and walk softly to the edge of a new earth.
We are not always what we are looking for. You think of typing O and zero and how easily the two are confused.
What’s the story, morning glory?
A thousand atoms of oxygen descend on us like balloons.
Come back, the phone voice says. Everything boils down to fingerprints, smoky eyes or I’s or ideologies. Boiling points, even.
How science loves a circle.
She was wont to study snails instead of circuits, comets instead of chemical equations, entropy instead of fusion.
Simple seed, succulent neuron. Let’s all grow plump and blow me a bubble. A message in a bottle.
One is a synonym for success and failure, simultaneously. Are you simultaneous?
Do you love the yolk as much as the shell?
Steffi Drewes is the author of the chapbooks Magnetic Forest, Cartography Askew, and History of Drawing Circles. Her work has also appeared in various journals, including 6×6, Zen Monster, The East Bay Review, Eleven Eleven, Monday Night, and the anthology It’s night in San Francisco but it’s sunny in Oakland (Timeless, Infinite Light). She is the founder of Featherboard Writing Series and manages the Writer in Residence program at Aggregate Space Gallery in Oakland. Tell Me Every Anchor Every Arrow (Kelsey Street Press) is her first full-length publication.