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2016 Dartmouth Poet in Residence Rose McLarney

Meet Rose McLarney

Rose McLarney has published two collections of poems, Its Day Being Gone (Penguin Books, 2014) and The Always Broken Plates of Mountains (Four Way Books, 2012).  Its Day Being Gone is the 2013 National Poetry Series winner. Rose has been awarded fellowships by the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and Warren Wilson College, and won the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ New Writing Award for Poetry and Alligator Juniper’s 2011 National Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in publications including The Kenyon Review, Orion, Slate, New England Review, Missouri Review, and dozens of other journals. Rose earned her MFA from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers and has taught at Warren Wilson, among other institutions. Currently, she is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Auburn University and Poetry Editor of The Southern Humanities Review.

On Being Named the 2016 Dartmouth Poet in Residence

“As a poet concerned with environment, working while looking out at the landscape Frost chose will inspire the articulation of my own ideas about the land on which we live, and on which we leave our ruins, and bring focus to my poems. Meanwhile, interactions with other writers and readers through The Frost Place and Dartmouth’s programs will, as shared love of literature does, wonderfully widen my view.”

Plans for the Residency

“At The Frost Place, I will continue my work on series of poems about animals’ symbolic roles in art and as indicators of change in ecosystems, and about water, which is part of a large and troubled system but also flows in smaller tributaries counter to prevailing currents.  I will also explore future directions for my writing, which aims to go beyond lamenting degradation and disaster to record and add to what’s good in our world. Frost’s poetry— the tributes to brooks (though gone dry) he loved for what they were, the songs he crafted for diminished things—will be a great guide for my efforts.”

Two Poems by Rose McLarney

[tab] [tab_item title=”Facing North”]

Facing North

How articulate, the eyes
of silent animals when I chose
to shoot the sick goat. All day,
the dogs would not look at me, not
let me touch them, legs folding away from
the level to which I had lowered my hand.

And the chickens ran,
following their crazed paths,
every which way, but every way
away from me. The goat
looked as if she were running
as she lay, after, legs kicking.

But don’t chickens always run
like that? And this is no new
remorse. The light has always
been leaving my narrow,
north section. Place of the long
history of short days.

It’s the frost that stays. More mornings
than not here, no sun is enough
to undo the frost. I should have given
her southerly pasture. I should have
gone in another direction.

But consider where goats live
the world over. They browse
on woody brush. On rock, on cliffs.
In deserts, harsh habitat. They choose
cursed land. Who chooses goats?

I chose goats. I liked the bone shapes
in their eyes, the strange, slit pupils
they turned to me, chewing the corners
of my heavy coat. I wanted to live here,
on an old hardscrabble farm.

In this era, when there is no need
to farm, who is drawn to have livestock,
which die so much? Piss and blood
pour out of the back of a shot body.
But it’s piss and blood keeping them
alive too. Cleaning the stalls, cleaning
the wounds common to animals so curious.

She worked herself through fences,
under walls. She worked her head into my
pockets. Worked her way in
to every opening.

What’s different about a dead body
is what comes from the other end,
a great cursive scrawl of steam
from the mouth. It is the last word,
soundless, without the stop and start
of syllables, definitive.

What comes from the mouth
blows away. Didn’t I say
I was done with livestock last winter
when the calf froze to the ground, then to
death because it couldn’t move?

When I ripped it loose, the intestines,
threaded through crow-torn holes
in its belly, clung to the grass and shattered.
I said those were my ties to the place.
They were too cold to bleed. A quick job
to clean up and bury, I claimed.

I said I would never use animals
as the figures for my sorrows again.
But when the goat dropped shot,
the bread I’d brought to get her
to put her head down still in her teeth,
the chickens pecked at it.

I’m still here. I can’t stay away
from the hard images. Bread
taken from her mouth even then.

[/tab_item] [tab_item title=”The Model Walks Away From a Job”]

The Model Walks Away From a Job

Tonight, when the trainload of coal, trailing ash
from the power plant, passed, I had no mournfulness left
for the suffering caused by the energy my lights
spend. Like the film images of the clouds that form
when the mountains are blown apart–how they pulse,
fill the screen, obscure everything–that’s how blurred
my mind was by the thought of what I wanted: another
whiskey. New boots. Possessions in numbers. To turn
and go back down the street to where the painter
who is not my husband but looks at me so long
holds his brush suspended above a palette of reds.
So much desire, and to desire goodness is no escape.
I will always end questioning what I’ve chosen,
regretting some greed. Or regretting that I slept cold
while the bulbs I left on burned into another day
when I would take nothing of what I wanted in my arms,
risk nothing that would bring color to my cheeks.[/tab_item] [/tab]