Angie Estes

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(ISBN 978-0997335538

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Whenever I see a poem by Angie Estes I prepare myself for serious delight. Her timing and her ever-uninhibited instinct for poetic shape are the triumphs of a first-rate musical intelligence. Angie Estes is Fred Astaire and Ginger too: backwards in high heels, forward on rollerskates, never have classy and sexy been better matched.
Linda Gregerson

. . . a brilliant and intellectually dazzling investigation of the often unstable relationship between language and experience. These heart-breaking and inventive poems negotiate the oscillations of event and memory in order to reveal the delicate and highly filigreed interweaving—in our lives—of action, meditation, and utterance. Beauty and insight spill off every page.
David St. John

Angie Estes takes very alert art and wakes it up all over again. Out of wonderful sliding sound relationships and torqued-up rhythms, out of histories as vivid as they are diverse, she creates a present moment in which we realize that Giotto and Le Corbusier are, and always have been, contemporaries—our contemporaries—for great art always happens in the present, and Estes’ work is no exception. It’s now.
Cole Swensen

Angie Estes has recently created some of the most beautiful verbal objects on the planet.
Stephanie Burt

This is a poetry of style, elegance, and fresh surprise, for the ear and the eye, the heart and the mind. It reminds me why I read.
Langdon Hammer

Angie Estes is the author of five previous books, most recently Enchantée, winner of the 2015 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the 2014 Audre Lorde Poetry Prize. Her Tryst was selected as one of two finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.


Watching the Hale-Bopp Comet Over
Howard Johnson Motel in Rolla, Missouri

They do not rest or come to Earth, neither
                        Common Swifts nor the crescent moon

in flight, but the Hale-Bopp swings near
                        every few thousand years, and we were out

on the hill above the parking lot, clutching
                        jackets and staring as we once stared

at the Indian Head test pattern on the black
                        and white television screen at the end

of the channel’s nightly broadcast. Do you
                        see it? Aster kometes, Greek for long-haired

star, trails two brilliant tails, one white, one
                        blue because the heart of the comet holds

two immense ices completely separate

                        from each other. It last appeared
4,200 years ago, and a thousand or so miles

                        back along the highway that brought
us here, we took turns guessing who painted

                        the Painted Desert. After finishing Le café
 le soir, van Gogh wrote to his sister that he had

                        painted a night that had no black in it, just
“a blue sky spangled with stars dark blue, violet,

                        green,” stars that swoop like swallows, what
could be seen, perhaps, from the comet crossing

                        over us: not the now here this of the present
but winter’s comeback, its shiver and deliver.


Le Secret de Compostelle

                        From the milk of Spanish ewes
grazing in the Pyrenees, transported
                                    over the border into France to be turned
            into cheese, it moves backward, like memory,
from the westward route of pilgrimage
                                    to Santiago de Compostela. Standing

                        on a swing, swung up
and back, then pushed into view
                                    like Venus on her shell in Botticelli’s
            painting, my newly married mother
with a soft ruffled bow floating
                                    down her chest, laughs and

                        sticks out her tongue, while across her
stretches the shadow
                                    of my father taking
            her picture. On the back he will
write, my mischievous bunch
                                    of sweetness.

                        Pilgrims often recorded the stops
along their pilgrimage on large sheets
                                    of thick paper they then used to cover
            themselves at night. And at each holy
site, they added a badge, attached
                                    to their coat or hat or worn

                        around the neck: from Santiago de Compostela,
burial place of St. James, a scallop shell,
                                    emblem of their journey
            to the west, the setting sun at Finisterra,
where all the spread fingers
                                    of the sun slide back
                        together. What’s a relic but a thumb
of hair flicked up
                                    toward heaven like a cowlick, the way
            a cow leaves its mark when it licks
its young or the wind licks the ocean
                                    and makes it wave: brebis, bee balm,

                        bonbon, something made
into something else
                                    like the New Caledonian crows
            who learned to use a stick to get at
another, more useful stick.
                                    In Japan, they continue

                        to wave until a departing guest
disappears, but the Italian hand gesture
                                    for goodbye curves and folds
            the palm toward us
and is the same as the one we use
                                    to say come here.


Copyright © 2018 by Angie Estes. May not be reproduced without permission.

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