Julia Shipley is the co- founder of Chickadee Chaps and Broads, a hyper-local micro press. She’s also the author of newly released, Adam’s Mark: Writing from the Ox House a collection of lyric essays about writing and farming. Her third poetry chapbook is forthcoming from HoneyBee Press in July. A contributing editor for Yankee, her work has also appeared or is forthcoming in FIELD, Green Mountains Review, POETRY, Taproot and The Toast. Her website is www.writingonthefarm.com.
Bio photo by Howard Romero.
Notes About Snow
The unexpurgated version
is actually immaculate.
My copy is also unabridged,
picture book: Little lane, a bridge,
untold fields– a polemic, a manifesto of snow
utterly boring except for this neat strand of track:
Someone’s paw following its paw following its urge to take place
makes a dotted line I’m resigned to
T. placed on the porch bench
held: snow ate them up
spat them back—
a dog that doesn’t
like peas after all
April: dog that dissolves
leaving the pea,
a blizzard of paper offerings
s(no)w man stands
oh well, a pail of ashes
to fling on the field
in the aftermath called “grass”
Epistle from the First Week of July
hermit thrush’s ditty is
the thing with
you can’t see
a tune -limned minute
national anthem of
Here’s where I crashed into a snow bank
two, no three winters ago, and now—
patch of evening primrose.
Over on King Farm Road
sapphire delphinium grow,
a commemoration of ramming
the Subaru into another
white shoulder, rushing through
that raging winter with barn- cracking
storms and ailing brakes, so long ago
it seems as I plunge down Ketchum Hill
into deepening shades of green,
the air warm enough to bite a peach,
blooms open in each site I wiped out.
Last night I told a bouquet of strangers
gathered in service of sanity,
how wretched I felt “letting you go,”
which, to be honest, skids out
of the county of truth– it belongs
with that off-road word, “deserve,”
which also thrashes in language, my
“trying to make it work ”accidents,
imply I want another go round,
to decide “what to make of it”—
Pit stop? Repo?
in each trench where momentum
blew out restraint, –a glowing flower,
or “daughter,” since it’s what
crushing made, delivered long after
we took separate ways:
I name her Autonomy
The river shoves the river past a cross on shore for two boys
who died portaging. The horizontal board reads:
We hope you’re having fun in heaven—
the frail cross already tilts and this winter will resemble another letter,
loss effaced by loss–no longer legible by spring; succeeded
by two collapsed stakes; bull thistle rising where his boot buried seed.
on the nightstand…
- lavender oil (helps put me to sleep)
- (helps wake me up): The Selected Poems of A.R. Ammons (because he observed everything happening around him (especially in the natural world and turned it into joyful- sober poetry)
- i was the jukebox Poems by Sandra Beasley (because she’s crazy great)
- Palmetto Leaves by Harriet Beecher Stowe (possibly Florida’s first tourist literature, part of my research for an article about “Nature Loving” in the Sunshine State)
- Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature (I am not smart enough to understand this book, but that won’t stop me from trying. I’m sure it can help me to tell stories about Nature Loving in the Sunshine State
- The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and Nineteenth Century’s On- Line Pioneers (I am fascinated by the discoveries that rocked my great, great grandparents world…and the threads and wires and cables that lead our present day capabilities.)
- And (yes, it’s a crowded bedside) magazines: O, the New Yorker, Texas Monthly and NYT Magazine: I heart narrative journalism.
- birds (swallows, robins, white throated sparrows, kingfishers, warblers and buff orpington chickens, among so many others)
what’s one item in your spring wardrobe that you can’t go without?
Purple croc ballet flats! They’re pretty and impervious to mud. Plus– Step in chicken ca-ca? Hose em off!
what’s your idea of the perfect homemade spring meal?
Greens, scapes in my scrambled eggs, last year’s potatoes with this year’s oregano, rhubarb juice: all made from this land.
what are three constants in your day?
- a walk
(in that order)
what is your spring theme song this year?
“The Waters of March” (Susannah McCorkle’s version)
I love the lilt and iambs, the simple specificity of
“A stick a stone/ It’s the end of the road// it’s the rest of the stump/It’s a little alone// It’s a sliver of glass/
It is life, it’s the sun// It’s night/ it’s death,/It’s a trap,it’s a gun// It’s the oak when it blooms/ A fox in the brush// The knot in the wood/ the song of the thrush”
It’s the song of the thrush.
tell us the inspiration behind this work.
I think what ties these poems together (besides the progression of the seasons through a place) is the intelligibility and legibility of landscape. These poems are not overtly peopled, which might make them dismissible, (as in– no one’s there, so who cares?) and yet, it’s the presence of others other than humans that activates my imagination– a world where *every*thing* brims with life.