Three Poems - Brian Laidlaw

"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


Echo’s Ailments

 

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’s Dreams

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
harelip. 

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’s Impressions

  //

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” &

she rephrases
“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.