Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Meet New Mexico poet Gary Worth Moody, a falconer, who lives in Santa Fe with the artist and writer Oriana Rodman, three dogs and a red-tailed hawk.  Gary’s worked as a grain elevator pit-man, forest-fire fighter, cowboy, teamster driving clydesdales, apprentice farrier, horse trainer, logger, CAT operator, form carpenter and construction project manager.  He spent a year in Siberia in 1993 building a town for coal-miners.  He is the founder of the 1980s Lost River Poetry Workshops and the past recipient of the Austin Poetry Prize, the Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Prize and the Virginia Downs Poetry Award.

Of Gary Worth Moody’s new book, HAZARDS OF GRACE, Stephen Bodio writes:

In a time when so much poetry is weak tea, as minimalist as haiku but without that compressed density, [Moody’s] comes on like a rare, old bourbon, rich and complex and burning like fire.  Its view of the mortality of everything is unflinching and sometimes startling, even as it celebrates life in its infinite varieties.  HAZARDS OF GRACE is the most original poetic debut I have read in years.”

Here’s a sample of Gary Worth Moody’s poetry, with its signature attention to detail and rich musicality of its language.  “Solace” is from his new book, HAZARDS OF GRACE.


After last night’s late autumn lightning and bars of rain
            hewn to prismed spines of feathered ice,
two dogs and I crest a red cindered rise.

Thin twined shadows of their leashes tighten, release,
            then tighten again. We descend
through frosted chamisa, cholla and buffalo

grass into an arroyo’s storm washed sand. Everywhere
            gleam shards of quartz and flint.
The earth’s iced rind holds a cuneiform of tracks, nascent scents,

signs of predawn human and animal migrations.
            Each draws the dogs’ noses,
and my eyes, to November’s first killing frost’s radiant skin.

Beyond juniper shadow, I note where a hare swerved
            from under the cold of a Red-tail’s wing.
Here a coyote’s acid breath warmed a struggling vole.

The only hint of solace, a withered condom of liquid moon,
            shielded beneath a tarp’s ragged scrim,
nests in a vacant imprint of two bodies that made love in cold rain.

Now, in wind-shorn embrace of a distant piƱon snag,
            the frantic beak of a cooper’s hawk tears
hearts, quill and breath from the ravaged husk of a mourning dove.

The hawk’s eye and the scaled eye of the dove each mock
            the frailty of our leashed trespass
into wilderness. I bend through my own breath’s fog,

unclasp each leash, watch my shadow uncurl as, under echoed
            cry of ascending hawk, the dogs run, and I,
facing unbroken sun, with upslope wind, begin the solitary walk back home.

Gary Worth Moody
From HAZARDS OF GRACE  (Red Mountain Press, 2012)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Here’s one, a combination of ekphrasis and a persona poem (in the voice of someone else) from my van Gogh book of poems.  [This my final post in a short series on ekphrasis.]


                                                I begin,
Vincent, to regard your closeness
in matched colors: stormy sky
blue eyes, the orange of your beard.

                        Some days you entered
full of sunflowers, those big ugly eyes
that watched while walls had ears
for the wild side.

                                    Your head
not yet a hill of bandages,
you saw how Rachels often end up empty
and whispered about a wedding of two
complementary colors.

                                                And I half-
hearing you rave late into night
about the fullness of color: how grays glow
with a bridelike blush and yellow in woodwork
wavers out and into shadows.

                                                With your scent
of turpentine, absinthe and death, you gave me
more than I bargained for.  The Christmas
you brought me the razored section
of your left ear, I turned away,
not wanting to see what wasn’t there.

-- Lenny Lianne

This poem of mine is almost thirty years old.  Though it’s gone through many revisions, the poem always has been spoken by Rachel.

Who was Rachel?  According to the brief police report printed in the Arles newspaper the day after Vincent van Gogh cut off part of his earlobe, he gave the section of ear to a certain Rachel, a prostitute. 

Vincent cut off part of his ear on Christmas Eve and gave it to Rachel as a token of himself, or perhaps as a Christmas present.

How did I come to write this poem?  When I lived in Northern Virginia, and before I started taking courses toward in MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry), I often took courses at the Washington Writers Center, now in Bethesda, Maryland.  One of those brief courses was “Nothing but Words,” taught by Rod Jellema, a fine poet and teacher.  One evening he gave a six-minute writing exercise whose instructions were:

1.     Write in the present tense.
2.     Use concrete, specific words; no abstractions
3.     Try to use all of these words:
ache (as a verb)
strip (as a verb)

After six minutes of writing, I had the first draft of the poem which, twenty-five years and quite a few revisions later, would appear in my second book, FRENZY OF COLOR, REVERIE OF LINE.

Click here to go to Amazon and see my book.