Lauren Camp: New Poems



Art by Julie Blackmon

Revenge of Winter and Future       

Upslant of light. A licorice wind along runnels of sky.

My left hand in a red glove on the bent spokes of a turquoise bike.

I ride uphill along the dominion of horizon.

Yellow chairs lapse over a small pier.

Gulls hug the shore with their usual problems.

The waves keep crowding, asking us to read one, then another.

The street begins its many lights. Bareheaded trees.

The ocean is dragging me back

to gather its unnavigable expressions, unlimited riot.

When it leaves, it is never gone.

Always crying to return, unresistant, softened.

Excessive Negative Ambition

Say you need something wonderful.
Could it be a meadow? Buzz, bloom, gravity.

Beside a mountain trail you eat besotted
by the greenery, turn to see the saplings.

You sit in a frayed cotton shirt and salt in midday sun.

The wind hears the tree and shuffles
along toward switchbacks
while other people tangle with holes
that howl through them.

Without hesitation the columbines
shiver pink
and white in gullies, and light
ravels back to a point that once wanted persistent attention.

You again compose conversations
with topographies and clock an autumn sky.

How many versions of forgetting are there?

Your body thinks to move but starts again to rest.

The Road Where the Gulls Wheel

The ocean disfigures—
then becomes omen, ordered by scows and harbor.

I continue to wander related events: mollusks, plank benches,
trapboats until need is pared to a point. 

Believing this brackish argument, I’ll return
to the cottage to adorn facing pages with negative space.

The windows will gather the continuous gray.
Thunderheads: the moon in the flute of sky.

Rust. A lantern. A house of shoes.
Salt dapples the hinges.

Lair           

I gave my thin body
a year, a limit as the aspen leaves
turned. My slight bone rooted around
in my husband’s fine frame
and then went out to track the fanning
owls. Now sweetgrass grows
jerky and long. Of course, it will
thirst again, freeze. I slip to clean the feverish
toilet its gristle, to fatigue with the bugs
on our counters. For a while, I needed
a child, then refused
to make an awkward version,
a fuzzed or soft, to consummate. Let it
be said: I couldn’t bear the weight,
but made a marvelous list of
durable names. The almost world
is what gets me. I learned a man drowned
as others took videos. I’m not prepared
for the rot and omen that fastens day
to each glossy pronouncement
on a newscaster’s lips. I’m hardly
prepared for my percussive heart. So for years,
I’ve been hiding in exactly
myself. He moves the rocks.
I have never been sorry. We’re relieved
of the castles, the seashores,
the distance or consequence, the certain
vantage of violence
on sour streets. Oh my child,
look how tall you’ve become! Is it sad
that in me nothing rang or struck?
Such safety you’ve brought
by not leaving one trace.

Lauren Camp is the author of five books, most recently Took House (Tupelo Press, 2020), which Publishers Weekly calls a “stirring, original collection.” Her writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Pleiades, Witness, Poet Lore, and other journals. Honors include the Dorset Prize and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award, the Housatonic Book Award and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. Her work has been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, and Arabic. 

Lauren Camp’s Website

Lauren Camp’s Took House at Tupelo

Lauren Camp at EIL

Review of Lauren Camp’s The Dailiness

Lauren Camp in Cat-at-Strophe at EIL

Lauren Camp, Poems in Turkish and English at EIL