On Break with Laura Jensen

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Reverse-engineeering Girls on the Run, by John Ashbery, proceeds apace. I have been moving into new work by using the syntactical mechanisms present in GOTR, which enables narrative, addressee, time, and speaker to slide around. But yesterday I sought an antidote to his glorious baroque. And I remembered Laura Jensen. I spent the afternoon overwhelmed by her careful clear language that is never simple.

If you have not read her, here is the poem that opened her first book, Bad Boats (New York: Ecco Press, 1977).

Laura Jensen

You know that he is going to die
as soon as I tell you
he is standing beside me
his hair in spikes and dripping
from his body.  He turns his head.
Canadian geese
all of them floating along the shore.
The red dog is swimming for them
only his head shows now
they flap into a curve and move
farther along the bay.
You know that he is going to die
this is the time for it
while there is a way to vanish
while the geese are moving off
to be their hard sounds
as their bodies leave the water.

I had thought that after her other two books (Memory 1982, Shelter 1985) she had somehow vanished. But no, she is alive and well in Washington, and bits of new work can be found in small magazines, through her blog.

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