Read the pictorial sunset moving backwards. Place the subject in her boat. Address the hand as it leaves the body. Consider the necessary element of surprise in the painting, the lack of similitude before you temper the definition. Say goodbye carnelian. Swallow the whole country if you can, the whole egg about to unfold. Consider salt as currency and meanwhile or further intuit the sun one letter at a time. Consider the falling viceroy, his plum shirt, the quiet signature you make in the sand, the glass, the inkwell, the mind alike in one mouth, the humble boy, his leafcutters, the bottom falls out.
Juliana Leslie's first trade poetry collection, More Radiant Signal (Chicago IL: Letter Machine Editions, 2010), is an impressive debut collection of taut lyric and prose poems. Her pieces are like small moments, stretched to slow conclusion, exploring the tangible essences of abstract things. Moving effortlessly from line to line, Leslie's poems end up in odd, considered places. A radiant signal indeed, furthering all else it brings.
How many ways to exist?I don't have a pencilas if I could write thisI can't even thinkYou are the textual orangebetween presence and absenceWind in the subtext is my windMom is in the alphabetSimultaneously all of the gestureyou ever want:mittens, war and calico
Throughout the collection, Leslie seems to have a fascination with colour, making her More Radiant Signal nearly an entire book on colour, radiant on all sides, such as in the poem “Paul Klee,” “Unknown Quality,” or “Softer More Radiant Signal,” that begins:
Tell me more aboutcrayons, contingencyand winter fruitpolyamorous structurallocations we know aren't always the bestfor human hands anywayTell me she is all worn outfrom workand thinking
Unlike her shorter lyric pieces, which make up the bulk of the collection, Leslie's slightly longer poems appear more disjointed and fragmented, suggesting space, writing a series of similar moments to her shorter pieces, further stretched. With so much everything and almost nothing happening, her poems slowly work up to the point, which is not the point. Hers are poems, to tweak Auden's infamous quote, that make nothing happen. How is that even possible?
The Number One is in the Flower
Therefore in her arc is lily liketherefore
Her lights Her hips at a tilt
As figure / she saidin parallel airand shadow m
The total distanceversus the rings of Saturn
We sing in real time before the firefrom a chapter in our book
with leaves in our throats at midnightfluid vowel a
The number one is in the flowercoiled and unflown
In winter form In movement
In perpetual revolt