BILLIE CHERNICOFF Reviews
A Poetry Reading by Brenda Coultas
Reading The Tatters on Heart’s Content Road
(Wesleyan University Press, 2014)
[onMay 17, 2014, Hearts Content Road, Catskill, New York, in Portia Munson's garden}
Miss the driveway several times and arrive at all of someone’s worldly possessions.
Refresh your lipstick. The bathroom papered in peeling birch like an inside out tree inters you. There’s a mirror but you don’t dare look lest it’s you in there.
Select a handmade dagger. Descend. Steep your party shoes in mud.
Brenda Coultas’s consort in hipster hat is pouring a glass of wine so light and green you forget you don’t drink.
There is an oracle at the edge of the orchard, The Bernadette of Bernadettes, someone whispers. Once a catholic slip of a thing, her braids are silver, tongue rough. She says yes to a glass of red. She says no to food. She says “ I had one grape already, I don’t want to overdo it.” You try and read her smoke.
Eurolingual creatures, elaborately coifed, mill. The sky is black, the podium an ethereal white. There is a pitcher full of a luminous substance Brenda Coultas will drink before your very eyes, “crystal water glass pixels to quench real thirst.”
The Bernadette says the clouds will part for Brenda, a woman who knows how to make a nest out of what happens, and that is what happens.
Landfills and dumpsters hand Brenda Coultas things and when they don’t she dives in herself. She looks into wreckage. She prods rubble, uplifts junk. When she picks up a board in her poem and says “worms, snakes, and salamanders all call me an asshole,” you’re a goner for this gleaner, scientist of the ruined sign and abandoned symbol.
Brenda Coultas dances for you when she reads her poetry, she shifts her weight, left hip, right hip. One hand at her throat, one at her waist, one fiddling with her button, one pouring water. Two hands holding a glass at her breastbone. One thumb in her front pocket, fingers splayed across her pelvis, thumbs in her back pockets, fingers cupping her bottom. A hand lifting a glass, a hand pointing to heaven, or to “bid on these tatters,” hands holding her book open, hands holding her book closed, praying the book.
Kali, brandishing her rigorous, unflinching attention, that’s Brenda, dancing on a pile of skulls, in black jeans and motorcycle boots.
The Tatters is a dump, a midden, the residue of desire, “an elegy without the sadness,” and there’s so much there, because Brenda Coultas sumptuously, exactly, lovingly notices, catalogues and deciphers the contents of the heart. You’re not sure you want to see what’s in there, out of that “fear of mirrors, of seeing oneself in the natural light,” but as you sift through feathers and purses, lilies and engines, things begin to glow. Take home anything you want, for free—Brenda Coultas has a red truck just for you. You can see her standing in front of it, almost smiling, in the photograph on the dust jacket at the very end of her book, The Tatters.
Billie Chernicoff’s book, The Red Dress has just been released by Dr. Cicero Books. Her book The Pleasures, was published in 2014 by http://www.metambesen.org/books/. A chapbook A Drop will be released by by Lines Chapbooks in 2015.