Aug 242011
 

It’s a pleasure to herald the return to these pages of Julie Larios, a friend and colleague at Vermont College of Fine Arts, also part of the NC community from way back (not that NC really goes that far back, of course). These poems have a dark even macabre edge to them; the felicity of  line and phrase creates a tension with the darkness; as in life, the darkness sneaks up on you. The first poem, “A Diminished Thing,” is also a kind of structural pun. Each line “diminishes” the last word in the line above it (recommended, commended, mended, mend, men, me….).  The title is a nod to a phrase in Robert Frost’s “The Oven Bird.” This is Julie’s second appearance at Numéro Cinq—see “On Reading the Poems of Someone Buried in Poet’s Corner.

Julie Larios has had poems appear in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, the Georgia Review, Field, and Margie, among others. Her libretto for a penny opera titled All Three Acts of a Sad Play Performed Entirely in Bed was recently performed as part of the VOX series by the New York City Opera. She has published four poetry picture books for children, and she teaches at the Vermont  College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults program.

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“A Diminished Thing” and “Pincushion Doll”

Poems by Julie Larios

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A Diminished Thing

It was easy. Many recommended
me. I was praised, I was commended
for my durability, that is, I mended
fast and often. To mend
is a fine skill, all the broken men
told me.

.

Pincushion Doll

That matte skin
is what bothers people most –

she’s like a ghost
with no shine, all bisque,

in need of a brisk walk
to bring the peaches to her cheeks.

But since she has no legs,
that begs the question.

Below the waist
she’s chaste, all ballast,

filled with sawdust, not a model
for anybody’s body.

The striped fan in her hands
meant to be elegant

is simply sad. Half a woman
is a bad idea.

Girl, you better tremble.
You better pray

you’ll find a way to walk,
you better have hip sockets,

knees that bend,
a bottom half at bedtime.

Otherwise, someone
will stick a pin in

and there’ll be nothing.
No cry. You’ll become

a shy lady with buttons
in a basket on your head,

a pocket for a bodkin,
a thimble, scissors,

a spool of dark thread
fastened to your back.

—Julie Larios

  5 Responses to ““A Diminished Thing” and “Pincushion Doll,” Poems by Julie Larios”

  1. Very well done, indeed. Nice to see you, Julie.

  2. Wonderful poems! Really loving these lines:

    To mend
    is a fine skill, all the broken men
    told me.

    “A Diminished Thing” really packs some serious punch for a short piece!

  3. I am absolutely pricked and enchanted by these two poems.

  4. beautiful work, julie!

  5. I shuddered when I heard you read Pin Cushion Doll, Julie. And I shuddered just now, when I read it again. I’m going for a walk, right now!

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