Let’s try something different. Skip this intro for now and dive right into the John Duvernoy poems that appear below. Take as much time as you want. I’m not going anywhere. . .
Here’s what. I’m not going to quote passages from what you just read in order to explicate their brilliance. I trust your hermeneutics are in working order. But I do want to share a few things you may not already know. Such as: among the seventy-plus students I’ve had the pleasure to work with during my eight-year stint at Bennington’s Graduate Writing Seminars, there were only one or two (maybe three) whom I felt inadequate to mentor—I mean, ones whom it felt presumptuous to take under my wing because they were already fully feathered, etching lazy circles in a spellbound sky.
Ones whom I’d have preferred to have met elsewhere.
Parched and stumbling across a dilapidated cabin in the deep woods. Ever feel like that? Reason enough to turn to literature, to poetry, in hopes of . . . what? Now that you’ve made your way through the sundry hollows and vistas in Duvernoy country, I ask if you got a whiff of that “new world naked.” Want to go back and cozy up again to its outré strangeness? Think Frank Stanford. Think James Dean—a brooder who kept his swagger.
John Duvernoy graduated from Bennington in the summer of 2008 and then disappeared. Cleaned up his life. Got married! But kept on writing in relative obscurity, kept his mythical frog skin wet, all the while making sporadic splashes in venues like Canteen, Octopus, Paul Revere’s Horse, Web Conjunctions. His first full-length collection is forthcoming soon from Horse Less Press. And what a debut that will be. For now, I trust your appetite has been whetted.
Took a job in Toledo Ohio
from 1917 t0 2003
over my shoulder
Backing the Pontiac
through the small
Dont worry darling my ego
gets bigger it’s
for the cameras
In the sky
From the causeway
while the cause was
Now I’m permanently chilled and sweating both
Like sun dried tomatoes steaming in a jar of milk
This isn’t going very well is it?
Through the small dark corridors
Though I have my vagrant loyalties
I know some one who knows some one, etcetera
It’s all very hush hush
Like a celebrity passing through
You know my poetry it keeps
Me alive but it
Talking to my Dad about collapsed barns
Not even saying anything really
Just being there
To the same torqued dark door frame
Same wood weathered face
I turned my back and
So my back you loved
from Wisteria, Magnolia
I don’t know probably
A high rise somewhere
Or a desert without any sand
He always was bound
To a radiator
Staring a hole through
A depiction of
I can still smell
Where he licked
The spine of my
Like he’d been combing
His hair with barbwire
Anymore than lying dead drunk
On a riverbank
Is finally confronting the sky
I got sent home from work for crying again
which is bullshit cuz I could fly
that plane in my sleep Pulled up
to the curb in front my father’s house and
I couldn't get out
There's nothing worth smoking in here
Drove around the block for a year or two Glued
a beard and registered to vote for something anywhere
Figured there must be anything somewhere Pulled books
from shelves for hours desperate for another’s line
The insurgents won the pennant or you made a superstition
out of going alone Something poutine like that
I put the car in an oasis
I wasn’t following her, or if I was I didn’t know it. A bleached blonde
Mirage. A tincture of teardrop tobacco and lavender soap. Nothing
Has changed save my point of view. The sky, a delicate plume
Of puce dried blunt and black. Now I’m you.
The moon, and its pulsating bloodclot.
She had a way of irradiating everything in her path.
Small brown birds dropped dead in the street.
I snatched one beneath my poncho while coolly appraising the mannequin’s figure.
It was alright, but inert, and suddenly I felt like a dullard’s idea of a creep.
There was supposed to be another shark attack.
That’s why I came here.
That, and to get the hell away from wherever I was.
This deserted taffeta beach
The sun behind a tuft of spun sugar
from Wisteria, Magnolia
I felt a presence beside me
It was the man with the wooden eye
In his ear There was something I’d
Never smelled before
On his breath Quicksilver
In quicksand A strand
Of recombinant chickenshit
On a tooth that shouldn’t be loose
This is how
I came to rub my mind
On the teething field It’s all over
Your pants there down by the cuffs—
Hand me my writing blindfold
Of incipient tongues
He used to say life will be
Incomplete or not at all
An orange tractor in a brown field
Isn’t it enough to know
They’re out there somewhere
Bewildered and clinging to lilacs?
Dazed by the same dark heat But
Why did you make him a mute—
So you’d inherit more searingly
I never should have left that car
Three haystacks and a man
Forever turned Stay
Stay in a constant sweat
Dear stranger you got out
Just in time
On the bright side, I won
the depression contest
There was an accident, I got hit
by a smartcar, it
Probably did me some good
That shit will kill you,
I told myself, regarding memory
The state police came and took you away
I stayed on for a few years as
A clever boy without the brains
to hide the knife Time
Was my lover and my friend
who stole my lover
If this was a poem, it could end