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Nancy Simpson's LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, New and Selected Poems was published by Carolina Wren Press (N.C. Laureate Series, 2010.) She is the author of ACROSS WATER and NIGHT STUDENT, State Street Press, still available on WWW at Alibris and Books Again. Her poems have been published in Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review and other literary magazines. "Carolina Bluebirds" was published in THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, Anhinga Press). "Grass" was reprinted in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Southern Poetry Review: DON'T LEAVE HUNGRY ( U.of Arkansas Press.) Seven poems were reprinted in the textbook, SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN POETRY,(McFarland.) Two poems were published in SOLO CAFE, Two more poems were published in SOLO NOVO."In the Nantahala Gorge" was published in Pisgah Review. "Studying Winter" was reprinted in Pirene's Fountain Anthology and "The Collection" in Collecting Life Anthology. Most recently, Southern Poetry Review Edited by James Smith, published "Our Great Depression," and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. VII: NORTH CAROLINA,Edited by William Wright, reprinted "Leaving in the Dead of Winter."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I'm captured by Ruth Moose's new book of poetry titled THE LIBRARIAN and Other Poems. Yes, I enjoyed "The Librarian" and found a lot of pleasure in reading those mostly humorous poems. We all need a laugh sometimes. But it turns out to be "the other poems" that keep me turning to the back of the book again and again.

The book is divided into two parts, which is not unusual. The first part provides
a character, a librarian with a fascinating life, a fictional character, a whole collection of persona poems I suspect, although 100% believable. The librarian is ever hoping that HWLWG will return. We learn on the dedication page that HWLWG is HE WHO LEFT WITHOUT GOODBYE, all caps. This is the book's dedication, whether you are reading part one or part two, and "the other poems" are located in part two, in a section titled --Sleepwalking. The two poems below are from that section --Sleepwalking.


No easy chairs here
Only hard seats for hard nights.
In the dim lights people
Sleep shrouded shin to chin
In white blankets.

Near the ceiling
A TV comic plays. His audience
Gufffaws and applauds. Here
No one laughs. This is life
In the slow lane:
No comfort
No ease
No jokes
No cheer.

Next door
Real life is one little line.
In the great heartbeat
Of the heartbreak hotel
Gossamer souls hang
Fragile as light.

by Ruth Moose

"The first year after his death, I was just sleepwalking." E.B.

Dream # 1

You are not gone yet, but I wake to
movers, big, husking mover guys in uniforms,
tugging, hauling our furniture out. They
wrestle our sofa, your desk, floor lamps, chairs,
the glass coffee table. "Stop," I leap from bed,
crying, "Stop." Then as quickly I wake
in the living room, the men are gone. No one
is there. Our furniture is safe, still in the same
place. I calm myself with warm milk, say
it was only a dream. I don't tell you.

Dream #2

One month after your death I wake to voices
in the driveway, someone softly
opening, closing, car doors. After several tries,
they start the car, roll it quietly to the street,
disappear down the road. I dash down
the back steps calling, "No, don't." I wake,
my hand on the porch rail, the car
in the driveway. No one around it. No one
is trying to steal it. I walk out to touch the car
in the moonlight, return to my empty bed.

Dream #3

Ten weeks after your death I hear someone
in my clothes closet. Two people. One stands
with her back to me, holding things the one
in the closet hands out. I hear them disucss
my black dress, the long pleated
skirt, an aqua jumper I loved. One the ICU
nurse said were the color of your yees. I leap
from bed, hold out my hand to stop them
pilfering my closet, touch only air. No one
is in the room but me. My closet doors are closed
In the night light, I see my own shadow,
silhouette, see nothing.

Dream #4

In the first light gray hour of early
morning, just before dawn, I wake
to the sound of someone sifting through
jewelry on my dresser. They lift and look
at each piece, my mother's pearls,
the diamond earring you gave me
one Christmas, a silver bracelet,
I bought out west. They weigh
your watch, your wedding ring,
as they pocket them. Small flashes,
little sparkles hit the light. Slowly,
slowly, I sit up in bed to see who
is stealing my stuff. Who is here?
No one. Nothing. Nobody
stands at my dresser in the dark
but me.

Dream #5

Six months after your death, I am
packing for a trip. A half empty suitcase
yawns on a chair in my bedroom. I hear
someone open my dresser drawers, take
out underwear, pajamas, my blue silk robe,
walk across the room and pack them
in my suitcase. Then they click shut the lock,
heft up the suitcase, start out. I yell
"No, no, no. Bring that back. That's mine."
They stop in the doorway, drop the suitcase,
leave. I dash after them, downstairs, the kitchen.
They are just ahead of me, a flash farther
than my grasp. "Stop," I grab at their coat,
hold only air. The kitchen clock ticks loud.
The light on the microwave is samll and red.
Stove, cainets, refrigerator, solid in their whiteness.
Nothing moves but my hand, reaching, reaching.

Dream # 6

During the night a storm knocks
loud, lightning green-blue, stark white
flashes in the bedroom hall, living room.
A sharp pop and my night light goes out.
All is navy blue dark. I could crawl under
the blankets, but I hear someone in the den.
They discuss whether to take this lamp
or that? Floor or table? One or both?
In the darkness, the lamps are round and bright.
Thieves move them back and forth across
the floor. I wait. I am so tired. Let them take
the lamps, one or both. Leave. Just leave.
I hear the kitchen door open, close, then silence.
The night light blinks on. The furnace hums.
I go back to sleep. In the morning all the lamps
are in the den. They have never been moved.

Dream # 7

You have been gone eight months and I
wake with a start. My purse has been stolen.
I have lost my purse. I try to remember
where I saw it last. On a chair in the den?
Your desk? Kitchen? Mentally, I retrace
my steps. By the backdoor where I always
hang it when I come in. Yes, and after that
I locked the door, did other things and came
to bed. I go back to sleep only to be awakened
later by several people in the hall outside
my bedrom. They quietly discuss where
they are going from here, other plans. Then,
one man, someone I've never seen before,
opens wide my nearly-closed door, turns
to someone behind him, says, "We have no
other business here." Then he closes the door.
I hear them leave from the living room,
across the porch, down the walk.
I sleep like I have never slept before.

by Ruth Moose
from THE LIBRARIAN and Other Poems

What Other North Carolina Poets Say About Ruth Moose's Poems

Ruth Moose's spare lyrical language dramatizes the search for significant acts, the spark of connections made.

--Robert Morgan

If this collections does nothing else, it will forever erase our stereotype of a librarian (prim spinster always with finger to lips shushing all sound from her immaculate, silent headquarters.) This librarian is fully woman, fully alive, and not only tolerating the words of others, but speaking out herself with verve and courage. Always hovering at her shoulder is the spirit of HWLWG--He Who Left Without Goodbye. You'll weep, chuckle and cheer as this gutsy woman deals with bits of her daily life--and those bits produced in Moose's exact language, shimmer with new significance.

--Sally Buckner

Read a sample of "The Librarian" poems on previous post.

Ruth Moose's poems have always been grounded in a certainty that gives every line its profound authority--that where we live and how we live matter more than anything else, that "here" is where the mystery resides, each detail of it claiming its rightful place in the scheme of the poem, in the narrative of our lives.

--Kathryn Stripling Byer

Contact the Publisher

Main Street Rag
PO Box 690100
Charlotte, NC 28227

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