Jessica FreemanJoy Lahey

Working Note

Most of the work I’ve done involves, among a number of variables, two constants: syntax (i.e., the order of words in a sentence which in itself conveys meaning by connection and relation and tones of beginning, questioning, stating, and winding down in alternating arrangements) and a sense of place which for me is usually derived from nature, particularly that found in the wilds of Louisiana and Mississippi or the environs of New Orleans. These have more often than not been been the two stable coordinates in my explorations through the wildernesses or civilizations of language creations. The search for the unknown I seek in or between words begins in solitude (in my favorite chair) and the silence of the printed word and the worlds it fabricates. In my writing I have often used prose fragments collected from encyclopedias, novels, works of literary criticism and theory, what-have-you, or any words found or thought of to flesh out the “bones” or the syntactic structure of the sentence and to accompany the rhythms of English speech I hear in my mind. In addition to the semantic gaps and space for interpretation created by this bonding of phrases and fragments from unrelated sources, edges have become a focal point for me. Words standing alone or logically joined create edges, an issue in contourconstructionclosedplane. 






St. Morand's Day


“Thought upon thought”
overdraws a count

crewel ties long sentences
and worsted yard

feathers growth
on trellised consensus

the bulkiest channel
of the heart

substance stitches slowly
realizing a wound

or two whip-poor-wills
weighting the meadow

to explain light
violent amnesia in wisteria

a pubic ballast
secreted in shade trees


Bonaparte's grant tactics
or cumulus crowds

with fixed income holdings
operate basically flat

in the unsettled areas
of plant anatomy

after World War II
your mama waved

and laced the lemonade
with crushed pomegranates

as if she agreed
as if greed were derived

like  side  effects,  recurrence
rates, thunderstorms

and necessary that summer
never forget that summer

St. Francis Caracciolo’


"Don't count on it"
a tapestry

with steel beams and brick

double track tunnel vision
a thwart to the moon

covering furniture  walls  floors
echoing taps

rather than incidental
in the main thread

a northern flicker
or a piliated

hard to say
by the call

you wrap jubilant sounds
congealed in the ice

and for once
retire the nail clipper


weft ends are left
hanging loose

spider web mortar
next to the young bird

parts two and three
certifiably the final

acceptance accompanied
by humble pride, decorum

flutter and change of speed
in the form of curtains

based on co-existence
a mutual bone needle

stand a chance
insert her

deep flanking of breezes


new gates
glide in lazy circles

news tries to please
flaps over

product failure
I would add

more barn swallows
what's most feared

teamed with direction
and background checks







“What a relief"
Or peculiar gaff
Suggesting human form
Without ends or sides
Almost whimsical
Hold it
The windward root
Hands on hips
Speechless succor
Concentric muses
In little black dresses
And females of many species
Under water the first day




Horn Island

if the bottomfed sphere or evenly intended
erosions can pull measured ratios
pull illusive accords from flattened-out joints
or grousing bonded with leveled torpor
shells skin and comb
a shifted slope
gape within reach of no arpeggios
utterance wears tapers
on a gouged-out froth
forms softly bent plurals, lifts long-stepped figures, patient and sinuous
against the gelatinous charge
muscled produce names
nameless shuffling snails
and seaworthy plaints gauge the squeeze

mere union works
instant corrals
in the running gloss world grains below
far flung impediments
something-to-ride time segments

rooted fissures list
then tack unheeded
confusion hollows leavens concedes
narrowly dissolved rampant boardwalks
rallying, spitted

undermine idle signals seam work
and reinvest distance





   mittens leave
   illegible shade
   sassafras mercies
   from reversed sides
   long in fond use
   and freshly boiled

   outline tints
   black and white checks
   neck muscles
   surround city streets
   the question is confession
   this obviates shells

   “So what have you done
      with the flowers?”
   or the spare mounted
   on a film frame
   cloth, blanket, heavy cylinders
   historically centered
   and viewed as remainders


Bio: Joy Lahey is a poet who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana and Magnolia, Mississippi. Her poems have appeared in the New Orleans Review and other journals. She has upcoming work in the Other South anthology published by the University of Alabama Press. Her book, Abandoned Premises, was published by Lavender Ink. 

Southern Perils

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