Rag & Bone, by Kathryn Nuernberger
This is a poetry of pain and power...whether describing the precise coloration of fruit skin, the contours of memory, or secrets of Fatima which turn out to be "cryptic mumbo jumbo," Rag & Bone reveals complicated truths with rare eloquence and wit. Whatever the future holds, Nuernberger remembers, even as she beholds the present with blinding intensity. Lyrical and deeply felt, the poems in Rag & Bone track the movement of a sometimes skeptical but always engaged and impassioned mind. --Jane Satterfield
The poetry of Kathryn Nuernberger vibrates with an intense awareness of the strangeness of being a conscious being. Her narration of outlandish scientific experiments and hunting expeditions, along with her contemplation of olds, human mutations, and narwhals, are voiced with that searingly matter-of-fact quality found in fairy tales (more often than not the scary kind)....This is an appealingly unsettling debut of a highly gifted poet. --J. Allyn Rosser
The fascination of reading Kathryn Nuernberger's poetry is in watching how one feeling subtly metamorphoses into another: fear becomes curiosity, curiosity becomes amazement, amazement becomes awe, awe becomes praise and gratitude. There is a clear-eyed awareness that some damages go unrepaired, some lives are wasted; but there is also a belief that a poet's loving attention can resurrect many things from rust. --Mark Halliday
Kathryn Nuernberger has lived in various corners of Missouri, Louisiana,
Montana, and Washington. She now lives with her husband and daughter on
a defunct dairy farm in southeastern Ohio. She teaches at Ohio
University and edits the literary journal Quarter After Eight.
From Rag & Bone
by Kathryn Nuernberger
U.S. EPA Reg. No. 524-474
the beetle-resistant Basillus
Thuringiensis with a potato sounds surgical,
but it’s just a matter of firing a .22 shell
dipped in DNA solution at the stem
straggling out from the russet eye. If you’re lucky
the hybrid sticks. Have you seen what can be
done with tobacco and fireflies?
Just for the hell of it, whole Virginian fields
now glow under the passing planes.
Salmon-tomatoes clutch their fishy gloss against
the pinch of frost. I think I’ll give it a try.
I have the gun you gave me. You said
I’d feel better if I held it awhile. I feel better,
and I’m not giving it back. I’m firing shrimp
into pigeons and dipping the de-veined crescents
of their wings in cocktail sauce. Thinking of you,
I made peppermint termites to sweeten
the swarm, and laryxed the rats with mockingbird
calls. I shot scorpion tails into the fighting
fish, and now I’ve made a bullet of me to blast
into your amber eye. Will you come out simpering
like a girl? Eager to perform your vulnerabilities?
Will you recoil at the site of a baited hook? Or will I
pass right through imploding flowers of viscera
without having scratched a rung on your double helix?
I’d wager you could arch each disaffected synapse
without even noticing me careening through
about to hybridize the brick at the other side
of your exit wound. Give a stone a language
chromosome and it’ll run with words like water.
It’ll announce in spray-painted letters that it hearts
you, that it can’t live without you. That it would
rip out its own mortar just to think you might
take a concrete crumb to jingle in your empty pocket
as you remember what I used to be.