Enough happy, sun-drenched poems, let’s go to more familiar poetic territory. Death, sex, nature, coffee. When Judy Jordan won the Whitman Poetry Award I swore I would never submit to it again. As much as I’d love to be published by LSU Press, I could never write a book as good as Carolina Ghost Woods.
Her second book, 60 Cent Coffee and a Quarter to Dance, is one long poem about the time when Jordan was living in her truck and working for Greek immigrants at a pizzeria. The poem weaves in stories about homeless people at the bus terminal, immigrant war stories, and Jordan’s own stories.
Here is an excerpt:
Move on, the policeman said, move on
when what I want is sycamores
the glass-eyed moon resting in their branches.
But here I spin in the slick sweat of an unreachable notion.
John, he spins too. Caught in the endless loop
of the ever-present past which is never made right
no matter how many times he twists the words around it
slurring again, I don’t care what they say,
I’m gonna call her someday. Drunk or sober,
gonna call her. But who will I call
when what I want is the silver branches of birch
feathered in feral light, pale buds shivering in a skittish wind
even as John slobbers on,
love my mama, gonna call her
and outside the shouting grows louder