Last week on the Poetry Chain, Jay Thompson wowed us with a poem about whiskey gingers and HBO movies. This week, he wows us with his choice of next poet, who in turn will wow us with her poem about sandwiches. It's time to meet Sierra Nelson. Here's what Jay Thompson has to say about her:
Sierra's a Seattle institution; she co-created the performance-art-poetry-experience the Typing Explosion (who reunited a few years ago for Wave Books' Poetry Bus tour) and is currently in the Vis a Vis Society. She founded Seattle's Cephalopod Appreciation Society. Her poetry— like her larger projects— is private and troubling, sometimes twitchily funny, sometimes nostalgic, and possessed of a child-like complexity— a voice I sit on the floor fascinated by. Her speakers take nibbles of old encyclopedias, books about robots, and 60s typing manuals. Her poem in Cranky, "Laustic," began: "Well, I am the Captain of Fun / And my wife is a Captain too. / She wears a green onion in her hair; / Her chest is heavy with medals / Won from the drinking." She has one called "Night Air" that starts "Sticky pearls — come here — / Gleam like sticky pearls." Gooseflesh language!
Nelson's poetry has been published in Louis Liard. Her books include T.Y.P.O. (a wonderful collection of poems disguised as an old-fashioned typing manual, produced by The Typing Explosion), Who Are You? Investigations & Findings of the Vis-à-Vis Society, and Desire & Flotation Devices. All of these books are available at Open Books.
Here is Sierra Nelson's poem:
I HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT
You can pay a boy money and he will make you a sandwich. Children, confronted by a new noun, try to live there. Although it feels like Thursday, it really is Tuesday. I know it should be simple, but I can’t make it easy.
Poor little house, says one child to a strange word. With gusto, the sandwich boy stabs the halves with frilly toothpicks. I have come here to try to tell you something important. I stare down at my hands like alternate Sundays.
Please don’t take this hard the wrong way. Remember — there’s lettuce for everyone, and pickles for the asking. Children can make a thatch palace out of egress. But you and I have reached the end of our sandwich days.
Thanks to Jay Thompson and thanks to Sierra Nelson. Tune in next Friday at noon to see who she chooses to be the next link in the Seattle Poetry Chain.