National Poetry Month Spotlight: Shelley Puhak

Who can stop thinking of the small things?
Dishes against sink,
small white feet against chilled linoleum,
pucker of scar against skin’s plate,
body against bed, against sleep.
It makes sense how we can live
with a thing like war
when we have been living
with our families so long.
Cards come only at Christmas
and Easter, wishing all the best
to fathers who die to punish their sons,
sons who keep on living
to spite their fathers,
daughters who curl up
in the car on the ride home
and don’t speak for hours.

Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A: I wish I could write a poem in a day! I tend to work on a poem in spurts and drag out the writing process. But I do remember one afternoon I spent revising this poem in early spring on a hand-me-down tweed couch with my cat curled up against me.

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

A: Stefi Weisburd’s The Wind-Up Gods, which I just finished re-reading.

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

A: A bottomless bowl of old school, made-from-scratch pirohy one June afternoon on a visit to Slovakia. Pirohy are boiled stuffed dumplings, fried in fresh butter (think Eastern European raviolis). My great-aunt in Slovakia mixed four different varieties together in a big bowl: potato and cheese, sauerkraut, apples and onions, and sweet jam. It tasted like childhood ought to: butter and dough, sharp and sweet.

Shelley Puhak’s poetry collection Stalin In Aruba is available for purchase from the Black Lawrence Press website.