Dana Curtis: Two Poems


Mise en Scène

One character stands by a vase
of peacock feathers, another
by the candelabra. The French doors
are half open and the red curtains
writhe in the night like the last time
the director was near someone who matters,
some flood, some satellite. The table
is set for eight while someone is breathing
just off camera, part of the world but not really
part of the scene. She wanted the arrangement
to challenge disorder, to interpret
each character as the furnishing
in an old hotel, in some place
once elegant, now a step
into a life dyed white:
this will be a beginning,
this will be the ribs of a dying horse,
this will be too much light,
too much shadow. The hardwood floors
are more than a hundred years old,
and the windows and mirrors are sand
on the sash. Everyone is
wearing silk. The actors
stand in their places, improvisation



At the train tracks, pieces
of light fly up, become
water and leap to the sky –
the opposite of rain,
the beginning of the new world
made of dust. I was already
there and we understand everything
about true deserts. Our bodies
articulate the particulate
presence, implication of
steps forward into an ocean
and new swimmers drowned
on the shore, lungs full
of mist, but let’s not forget
the trains: they haven’t
changed. The distant sound is still
lovely and evocative. The tracks
remain perpetual and sympathetic.

Dana Curtis’ second full-length collection of poetry, Camera Stellata, was published by CW Books. Her first full-length collection, The Body’s Response to Famine, won the Pavement Saw Press Transcontinental Poetry Prize. She has also published seven chapbooks: Book of Disease (in the magazine, The Chapbook), Antiviolet (Pudding House Press), Pyromythology (Finishing Line Press), Twilight Dogs (Pudding House Press),   Incubus/Succubus (West Town Press), Dissolve (Sarasota Poetry Theatre Press), and Swingset Enthralled (Talent House Press). Her work has appeared in such publications as Quarterly West, Indiana Review, Colorado Review, and Prairie Schooner. She has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the McKnight Foundation. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Elixir Press and lives in Denver Colorado.

photo credit: Hasperana (license)