and no spiders were harmed

$12.00

Poetry
48 pages
8.5" x 5.5" single signature with hand sewn binding
Published December 2015

A poet who confessed to being "creeped out" by spiders and thinking of sloths while writing love poems Steve Tomasko shows us where we can go when we are aware of the places and spaces our minds wander. With a keen sense of the world around him, Steve connects and relates the "them" of the natural world to the "us" of the human world and he does it with honesty and wonderment.  This collection of poems will make you more aware of the world around you and more likely to pause in the midst of routine to wonder.  We should all write more love poems and Steve gives us examples and incentives to do so. 

You said I should write more love poems and

I said, I’m sorry, but I’ve been thinking about
sloths. Well, actually, the moths that live
on sloths. Nestle into their fur, take the slow,
slow ride through the rain forest. Once a week
the sloth descends to the forest floor. Defecates.
Female moths leap off; lay their eggs on the fresh
feces; jump back on. Their caterpillars nourish
themselves on the fetid feast, metamorphose
into moths, fly up into the canopy to find
their own sloths. They prefer the three-toed
over the two-toed. Who can figure attraction?
The algae-covered sloth fur is the only home
the sloth moths know. The only place they live.
I know it’s a Darwinian thing but fidelity
comes to mind. Commitment. Patience.
The world writes love poems all the time.

Originally published in The Fiddlehead

The Plane of the Ecliptic

Seasons are all about tilt. Here, imagine
this orange is the Earth and this basketball
the sun. Or, imagine this pea is the Earth
and the sun, this kumquat. Or the Earth:
that dun-colored mole on your right forearm;

the sun: a glint of chrome off your granddad’s
‘52 Studebaker. That orange, that pea, that mole
of an Earth tips toward the sun at a 23 degree angle
from its orbital plane. That angle of obliquity makes the globe
nod its northern brow or jut its southern chin

towards the light. While it nods and juts, the sun’s rays
strike half the globe solidly and bathe the opposite
glancingly. This triggers the peregrination of cranes
and monarchs; stirs lovers, and makes poets
laugh and scribble.

This spring as the Earth warms, as gardeners creep
across the loam, remember, it’s all about the tilt.
The Earth is slightly askew. And if change
is what you like, thank God or Allah, Coyote
the Trickster or the Universe itself for making
the Earth just a tad off-kilter.

Originally published in The Madison Review

 

What others are saying...

In these phenomenal poems I was struck by the seemingly matter of fact Frank O’Hara-like discursiveness of Tomasko’s voice, his ability to simply meander conversationally about snow and metaphor, about sloths and love, spiders and 2 or 3 AM. And then the turn, “this punch-to-the-gut / feeling, this I-really-am / mortal,” musical as “the dock, warped, weathered, worn / smooth from years of sun and water.” For what seems so simple an aesthetic is actually deceptively complex. Tomasko’s eye is a keen notice of the minutiae of the natural and living world, both human and elemental that surround us. These are 21st century poems that build on the aesthetics of such 20th century innovators as the NY School of Poetry, with their discursive conversational tone, being produced up there, now, in rural Wisconsin. And imagined in places far across this world. For as he tells us,

“The algae-covered sloth fur is the only home
the sloth moths know. The only place they live.
I know it’s a Darwinian thing but fidelity
comes to mind. Commitment. Patience.
The world writes love poems all the time.”

Sean Thomas Dougherty