National Poetry Month Spotlight: Laura McCullough

In French, when vowels are elided,
an orthographer’s tool,
the apostrophe,
orchestrates with flourish,
but always
there’s the choosing
between liaison or elision,
or both as in
J’arrive à l’hôtel pour un liason.
Don’t tell my husband,
who speaks French, but prefers
the schwa as in amuïssement.
This is all just amuse-bouche—
to amuse the mouth—
or more correctly, amuses-bouche in the plural.
Before the hotel bed, there is the lobby,
and before the hors d’oeuvres,
something to excite the tastebuds,
and a little wine, no? Or perhaps
you’d prefer to meet me
somewhere else, say the library,
where you can’t buy anything,
where whatever you use is simply on loan.
We can always touch the books’
spines rather than each other’s.
There’s no telling what might happen.
No telling.
Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?
A: No.

Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: I read Hoagland’s Unincorporated Persons of the Late Honda Dynasty, which provoked a 4000 word essay. If you mean books that made me write poem drafts, I was recently reading Gerald Stern’s book of essays, What I Can’t Bear Losing, while simultaneously re-reading Dean Young’s Embryoyo. Wham.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A: The first Thanksgiving my now-husband and I spent together, the children (from my previous marriage) went to their biological dad’s. We’d only been together a few days; we’d fallen in love at our graduate residency, and both our marriages had broken up because of that. We cooked a turkey breast. We put herbs under the skin, and butter, and garlic. We made a sweet raisin gravy.  I was simultaneously guilty, anxious, missing my children horribly, and crazy in love. We set the turkey on the table, ripped off pieces to taste it, and then chunks, and then fistfuls, feeding each other clumps of flesh dipped in gravy, then we fell under the kitchen table together. I won’t share any more details, except to say, the pie afterward was very, very good.

Laura McCullough is the author of Panic, winner of the 2009 Kinereth Gensler Award and forthcoming from Alice James Press in January 2011, and Speech Acts, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in fall 2010.