Sometimes words or someone or something I run into finds its way into a poem; that’s what the gorgeous tobacco farmer did; she looked like a tobacco farming tractor driving goddess, not without clothes, but almost, when I saw her on the Connecticut River’s River Road in Hadley, Massachusetts last fall, like nothing else I’d ever seen before; the poem’s probably a good example of my mood taking sharp turns. Some things on my mind were imitation systems, mimicry, appropriations, mirror neurons and how often we can seem just one step away from being exactly all the same. The gorgeous tobacco farmer didn’t seem like an imitation of anything.
A Perfect Imitation of Something Familiar
Or Utopia for beginners.
To fall into an endless void, as if that’s hard.
I measured you
from beginning to end, the length of your
consonants and vowels, your silent syllables
and your louder percussion section.
Last night’s black & white sunset set me off,
the way you have a way of shearing off the garish.
Yours has always been the ear I’ve whispered in.
In comes radiant energy in the vibration society, &
take for example, my encounter with the truly gorgeous tobacco farmer,
she almost carried a scepter, she ruled the world of the
back roads along the big river over which once barges
toiled and wanton wagons purled as geese followed its banks
to cities where night fell, stars went out,
here was no light
any where and then
it got darker and darker and darker
and darkest of all.
Dara Wier is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including You Good Thing (Wave Books, 2013), Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2009), Remnants of Hannah (Wave Books, 2006), Reverse Rapture (Verse Press, 2005, 2006 SFSU Poetry Center Book Award), Hat On a Pond (Verse Press, 2002), and Voyages in English (Carnegie Mellon, 2001). Also among her works are the limited editions (X In Fix) in Rain Taxi’s Brainstorm Series, Fly on the Wall (Oat City Press), and The Lost Epic, co-written with James Tate (Waiting for Godot Books, 1999). Her poetry has been supported by fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the American Poetry Review. In 2005 she held the Rubin Distinguished Chair at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.
She teaches workshops and form and theory seminars at the MFA program for poets and writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and co-directs the University of Massachusetts’ Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action. Each June she teaches a poetry workshop for the Juniper Summer Institute. Her editing work includes publishing limited edition chapbooks and broadsides with Factory Hollow Press, North Amherst, Massachusetts, a small independent press she co-edits with Emily Pettit and Guy Pettit. Along with James Haug and James Tate she edits the University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Series for poetry.