Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Planchette by Juliet Cook

Published by Blood Pudding Press in 2008, Planchette is a haunting collection of ten poems about young girls amidst their dolls and their life at home. Planchette refers to a “heart shaped board from which messages are written under supposed spirit guidance” according to dictionary.com. The book itself is bound in beautiful textured paper with textured edges and is bound by knitting yarn. Each poem is a spine-tingling pleasure to read and I am happy to share a couple of sample poems below:

Something is wrong with me

I can’t make things happen

I’m trapped inside a little glass bunny.
I quiver inexplicably,
but never move smoothly across.
All I do is quiver and then I

swerve madly.

My progress is not reasonable.
My progress is not measurable.
My progress is not memorable

until I am so wildly
erratic that I blur
towards the erotic

I’m trapped inside a glass eye.
Red-rimmed. Red-painted.

(You want to lick me.
You want to put me all the way inside
your mouth. Clean me up. Stop me rolling.)

I zoom across a black board with white letters
like one possessed. I fervently spell out
the same word again and again and then I
get stuck

on your tongue
inside my own head
somewhere small and dark

and so crowded…

This poem makes me envision one of the haunted girls disappearing into a little glass bunny as she is attempting to use the planchette/Ouija board and becomes part of the board itself picking out letters. I wonder who is in the room when the lines “You want to lick me./You want to put me all the way inside/your mouth” comes up, I envision a gentleman caller visiting and having no idea how to get her out of the glass bunny. The girl’s world is curious and surreal in this poem and captures my imagination.

Parlor Tricks

Our eyes were fake blueberries.
We made synthetically sweet fruit
perfume fill the parlor, almost an ooze,
almost oily waves.

Our fancy dessert plates burst
with lurid peonies, so swollen,
bruise-colored, almost lewd,
but already wilting at the edges.

Now they’re flaccid, faded, flat.
Out of tune piano keys’
wan background music. Warped wallpaper.
Failing glue. Scraps of yellowed newspaper

Lodged in our throats. We can’t read
the fine print, but feel the gray lilt of it
blurring out tongues into listless
little clappers of broken bells.

Oh this ringing in our ears we can’t expel.
We shuffle shiny flashcards.
We coiffed each other’s hair.
We played musical chairs

until we were all stuck to musty loveseats.
Instead of another chair disappearing, a girl did.
Something swallowed her, right after she swallowed the key.
The china cabinet trembled, cracked the handles off

our floral teacups, vomited bent spoons.

I imagine a group of girls sitting in the parlor playing with the object around them: fake blueberries in a bowl, faded yellow newspaper, flashcards their mother hoped would educate their young minds. Then one of the little girls picks up a key and swallows it and disappears herself, the forces acting on her shake the cabinet and the spoons explode out of the teacups. It’s a frightening thought if you really think about it, playing with siblings or childhood friends and such an inexplicable event occurs. We are left without an ending, we have no idea what happened to the girl who swallowed the key, or what happens to the girls who are there to face her absence and explain it to others. This poem makes my spine tingle.

If you enjoyed this sample, you may purchase a copy of Planchette by Juliet Cook for $7.00 through Blood Pudding Press’ Etsy Shop at:

Thank you always for reading, please drop in again soon…

No comments: