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The Day After I Drowned, Poems by Betty Lies
Betty Lies’ The Day After I Drowned is a book of yearning, of searching for experience and feeling outside the narrow boundaries of the self. The speakers of these poems are greedy for life itself.
“What makes the poetry of Betty Lies so compelling is the collision between a thorough adult intelligence and the raw facts of life, in particular our mortality. The poems are fledged with metaphor, acumen, alertness and even wisdom, but the facts don’t go away, and loss of one sort or another must triumph. Betty Lies never fudges it. What is beautiful is beautiful, what hurts, hurts. This is an accomplished book in the true sense of the word.”—Baron Wormser
“Sexuality is words as much as bodies. In her hilarious opening poem about “the first bad thing I did with a boy” poet Betty Lies describes ‘the hot word/ moving in a long caress/ from mouth to mouth:/ giraffe shit/ rhinoceros shit.’ In this passionate and intelligent book about being widowed, Lies is both heartbreaking and funny. Who else would write a poem called ‘Not Your Mother’s Werewolf’? Apt images and craft can’t make loss less painful, and yet, ‘An empty cup has its own grace/ if it was first well made.’ The Day After I Drowned is a seductively well made distillation of thought and feeling.”—Penelope Scambly Schott
“In these emotionally open, clean-lined, image-laden poems, Betty Lies tells us how ‘cutting a coat of darkness’ after her husband’s illness and death, she “has been years on the road to calm.” The music of Ode to Joy surfaces periodically here as dreaming and memory help her to live through profound loss. Among the strongest poems in this collection are those that look directly into the face of death. Not much magical thinking here, just unflinching honesty. Yet, in the lovely ‘Pumas have been sighted in this Township’ a man in her dream ‘stands at the back door/ begging to come in.’ In daylight, she sees pawprints in her driveway “too big for a house cat’s” and then, cleaning a closet, makes an accidental find: ‘a bag of batteries/ labeled in his slant hand: Not dead.’ This is a moving and beautiful book, well worth reading.”—Irene Willis
ISBN 978-1936370092 116 pages, $19.00