Landers & Erickson 10/22 6 p.m., the Switch

The Switch Poetry, Art and Music Series presents

Sue Landers and
Michelle Erickson

Saturday, October 22
6 p.m.

at Switchyard Studios
109 SE Salmon St, PDX 97214

Sue Landers is the author of 15: A Poetic Engagement with The Chicago Manual of Style (Least Weasel/Propolis Press 2011), 248 mgs., a panic picnic (O Books 2003), and Covers (O Books 2007). She co-edited the early aughts journal Pom2, Recent poems have appeared in Elective Affinities, Try Magazine, and The Recluse. She lives in Brooklyn.

Michelle Erickson: “I started writing poetry on Winnie the Pooh stationery when I was young and my chest felt too full. I write about loss, discovery, and mouse skeletons between floorboards—which is basically loss and discovery anyway. I like to deep sea dive into the places we can’t take our flashlights and bring up something beautiful when I can.”

by Sue Landers
From Chapter 17, Documentation 2: Specific Content

What a book can do. Paper touching greatness. The stars just like us. Working. Elsewhere. The internet. A 18th century barn converted into a community theater. I knew then it was possible to be lost and present at the same time. Not like in songs of mines and quarries. But in a trolley or a brickyard. Puppets teaching children about Sojourner Truth. Not so far from North America’s first paper mill. The graveyard. Hurt candy. A secret door to the underground railroad. Act, line, and the like. Where the shooting happens. A kind of ghost dancing music. Much later, I repeat: we were very poor, you don’t understand, I’m not going back there. Imaginary possessions: discretion and common sense. Hard plastic masks to sweat inside. Produce in cans. Doors. A body between two doors. A body leaving through the back door. A body in a closet. All skeletons. My skeleton crouched or upright. I am blowing out the dents.

by Michelle Erickson

Where light goes

Come in here, let me tell you
about ritual, about carving your
name into the roof of your mouth
so every word will be true.
Come to the water, observe.
See how the sky bends,
how the light seems to know me?
My body is an anchor.

Listen to this light fall. Don’t talk about it,
drink it. Don’t raise your tongue, let it sink.
When it’s dark, I can’t forget.
I pack suitcases for my bones,
and when I remember my skin
I throw them out the window.
My body is a snow globe.
Done and done.
My body is a graveyard.

Walk through this. Take the branch
back, see that line shake?
Watch me arc and bow until my eyes
are no longer blue, but two paintings,
portraits of you standing by the sea.

I till this thirst, sift each moment
and when I find light, watch me—
I turn into a horizon and wail.
My body is a dowsing rod.

Look: when I put my hands together,
I’m not praying, I’m making a window
so light can come in, so I can have stained glass
against my forehead as I lift my arms
and flocks of light can trace patience
along the bottom of my skull.

My body is a room where light goes to study distance.
My body is a room where light goes to shuffle its feet.

My body is a room where light goes to learn why we sleep.
My body is a room where light goes to hunt.