When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley: Selected and New Poems
Available November 1, 2015
What a cause for celebration: an extended visit to Terese Svoboda’s expansive and piercing vision, in which curiosity collides with critique and sparks wisdom, ignites wonder. The unsettling dynamics of family, the anxieties of global politics, and the surprising encounters with the architecture of everyday life shape “the membrane of lived moments” of this fierce and formidable book.
When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley may be a place where “every word from everyone hurts,” but take solace, dear reader, Svoboda will turn each ache into an exquisite tune. —Rigoberto González
Praise for the poetry of Terese Svoboda
Terese Svoboda’s poetry is at once so remarkably precise and utterly strange I find my mind marrying her vision with vertigo and delight. Her Selected and New is not just a treasure trove: it’s a must-have for any serious reader of poetry. Dive in! I’ll be waiting for you in the “Marriage Boat” where Svoboda’s gulls scream, “Flesh! Flesh!” —Cate Marvin
There are writers you would be tempted to read regardless of the setting or the period or the plot or even the genre. … Terese Svoboda is one of those writers.
— Bloomsbury Review
Language at the edge of utterance, utterly original. — Eleanor Wilner
These poems take you on a wild ride, fast and dangerous, but always in control
— Tom Lux
All Aberration ... is refreshingly unfashionable, strikingly written, and suffused with toughness and integrity. — Robert Levy, Prairie Schooner
For readers who prefer the chill of a dry martini. — Library Journal.
Ironical, tough-minded, refusing the “treason” of our sad human trafficking in love.
— Carol Muske-Dukes, L.A. Times
Svoboda’s poems are as haunting as they are funny, as pleasurable as they are powerful. —Publisher’s Weekly
Poems from When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley: Selected and New Poems
Once, living as a seal,
I leapt the margins of waves
into sunsets made green by lichen.
You buy that? The tiny plants,
the angle of the sun, the seal?
Atlantic City tidies itself
into the margins of waves
nobody watches or they’d
miss their dice roll. If you
lichen on Facebook the box
unlichens, living living living
on margins really singular
for the green electricity
that meets its demand, the seal
no-friended on account of
gamboling on lichen — it could be
algae without the fuel —
and myself an impersonator,
a drop of oil in the shape
of the surface gasping
for what I can get,
a sunset, a wave, a lorgnette
to see the cards being dealt.
I can swim into the sunset
anthropomorphized or not,
the margins set regardless
of perspective, the seal
sunk, the lichen changed
as if a wave goodbye.
Adieu! the seal says with its tail,
an extension of its waist. The waves
okay that, the sun likes.
Mother burns on the other side of the bridge.
Mother burns the bridge and is safe on the other side.
Mother is not on the bridge when it burns.
When Mother says burn, the bridge burns.
We can’t get to the other side,
the bridge is burning.
Mother is the bridge that we burn.
She is how we get to the other side.
We can’t burn the bridge without her.
Mother burns and we burn, bridge or no bridge.
She is the other side.
Nothing burns the bridge, and then it burns.
All The Livelong Day
The train loses track.
Crime, your sweetheart, makes me
look good anyway. I’m outstretched,
the girl given. Who tied my bonds?
This is a New Year,
on the sidelines, people
Gawd, I say.
There’s a couple more like us,
they come out of my body while
I wait, choo-choo,
hugging the course, the bend gravy,
the bed heroic, someone sawing
at the bonds,
cinders swirling at
a cow caught on the catcher,
O fingers, faster.
No one will remember
my name or yours, only
the humming, the talk-
into-the-distance song, and Crime’s,
all the livelong day.