"These poems and songs are from THE MIRRORMAKER, a book-plus-album that relocates the myth of Echo and Narcissus to Bob Dylan's hometown in Minnesota's Iron Range. The collection is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions, and serves as a counterpoint to Laidlaw's debut collection THE STUNTMAN, which was published by Milkweed last year." —Brian Laidlaw
to call something harmless admits
a certain potential
for harm (love is not &
neither is unknowing)—
homes on dead-flats
sink into prairie sinks; gradations
from landslide to landfall
to rock-fall to rockabilly to rock-a-bye
bifurcate the county—
we watch half a mountain collapse
like a stroked face, then
we help the half
that didn’t collapse collapse
Echo dreams of being an Onassis
lookalike. Dreams sheer textiles, greenrooms
with checkerboard portents.
In the highland umber is a primary color; the others
are olive & marigold.
Born with creeds, with bangs, with a cuneiform how
hewn in her browline.
Bobbies, bobbins. Plain bobs. One butterfly
The heavens hemispheric to her.
She might be bloodless. She dislikes: the garish parish,
the reds, garrisons, quarters
holed up in the amaranth home. The linseed skim
in the crockpot.
They say store oil-drums, water-drums, snare-drums
to summon a rain. They say
My body’s grotto is sublime
like I am a beige near-vapor.
They say a lot of upcountry things thus far upcountry:
Carry a whistle, a frisson.
Carry a lead smock.
Echo does impressions: bombs for pom-poms, bombshells for kneepads,
née-deep in your/man’s notions of feasible
Nobody going nowhere fast. You got licked by a greyhound
station, licked clear cold out
It was similar to having or to
being a mother:
here’s to being heretofore human, here’s to the time being.
You, swimming in moons, machinery, liquids, assets, have a voice
like a strangulation
victim, born out of the wrong end, out of a mouth like a slur.
I am a visual statement of myself;
you are an acoustic you.
Echo is a sugarsweet gumshoe; chewing gum
drops your white teeth right out
You’ll rap an oldtime rag on her behalf, you say “There’s a shake shop
downtown with curlicue straws” &
“There’s a maltshop downtown with a roundabout bar.”
Also: the beautiful don’t die young, only their beauty does.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brian Laidlaw is a poet-troubadour from San Francisco. His work has been published widely in journals including Field, Agni, New American Writing, The Iowa Review, and American Songwriter Magazine. Laidlaw recently released AMORATORIUM, a vinyl-LP-plus-poetry-chapbook, with Paper Darts Press, and his first full-length collection of poems, THE STUNTMAN, was published by Milkweed Editions in 2015. He divides his time between Minneapolis and the Sierra Nevada, and continues to tour nationally as a folksinger.