Conversation in the Key of Blue / Laurie Wilcox-Meyer


Conversation in the Key of Blue

poems by

Laurie Wilcox-Meyer

ISBN: 978-1-59948-791-5, 80 pages, $14 (+ shipping)

Release Date: May 12, 2020


Laurie Wilcox-Meyer lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Her chapbook Circling Silence was published in January, 2018 by Finishing Line Press. Her full-length book of poetry, Of Wilderness and Flight, was published in March, 2018 by FootHills Publishing. She is Co-Founder of Poetry Pathways, a project intended to celebrate poetry and make poetry accessible along Asheville City Greenways.

Conversation in the Key of Blue is a season of wail, sigh, and dance. With eclectic poetic range that illuminates acute sensibility, Laurie Wilcox Meyer offers provocative questions of what gets shifted and what comes into view? Recognizable universal codes of both care-taking and care-giving, sacrifice, ancestral memory, the global body, and ownership create a visceral landscape of eco-poetics. These poems are declarations… deluge of detail, bold wit, intimacy, and wounds that lift themselves off the page as testament. ~Jaki Shelton Green, NC Poet Laureate, 2019-


Anyone who has felt guilty caring for an aging parent or felt the rage that arises with the illness of a child will find companionship in Laurie Wilcox-Meyer’s meditative poems. Anyone who has observed, been terrified by, learned from a natural world that contains cobras and water moccasins, warblers and wolves, will find herself here. These poems do not flinch at the difficult―a mother “coos to her dead sister,” a son endures a “poison cure,” “long gone” a father “still sits next to me.” Such eloquent images fill these poems: mercury from a cracked thermometer becomes a “solar system gone awry,” a man is felled by a “stroke of clots and knots.” There is “darkness measured in light years” within these pages, and also “beauty exponential.” ~Kathy Nelson (author of Whose Names Have Slipped Away)


Here is a richly-layered conversation with places both inner and outer, with stars and memory and mystery. We are invited to enter a deep and profound silence, to linger on spare lines and single words until the world speaks back: “Open Places,” “Empty.” Unafraid to embrace the dark shadows of life, the poet reminds us: “Beauty bathes us again and again, Beloveds that we are.” ~Sally Atkins, Poet and Professor European Graduate School



Photos crammed in crumbling envelopes
and my ancestors pleat the darkness.
I pluck a two-by-three inch black and white
out from the others.
A specter rebels, strata resonates.
Maidan Park, Calcutta, July 1945, In Rickshaw.
The runner’s bones gnarled.
My father the perched trophy hooked in shadow.
His legs fade on a net, blue to phantom yellow.
Malarial fever twitches from his sallow eye.



Animals Disappearing


My father was as good as any man could be.
He paddled the stern in my canoe when I was twelve.
River rocks and waters soothed our eyes.
Decades earlier in India during WWII
he conducted a U.S. army band.
He couldn’t soldier a rifle.
Military musicians didn’t have to hide in trenches
yet cobras ran through the nearby fields.
Hooded shadow flares could mow even the brass section down.
Only one of those wild snakes killed a trumpet player.

At war’s end, my father shipped a rug home––
its tiger stripes once breathed forest air.
Filing two by two once equaled salvation.
Sacred texts celebrating dominion over the fish and beasts
now marvel at living room rugs.

Serpents live more purely than any man.





A tree is only as strong as the forest that surrounds it.
I’m not talking about the manmade ones throwing apples
toward the fearful four on their way to Oz.
Or the Family Tree turned into i-Patients
of an immune system attacking itself.
But the beech trees communing as One.
They summon only benevolent predators
to shelter their supple saplings
and green crowns.
Spreading wide their limbs by heart
a core and rooted network buzz
from fungal bliss.
Silence your saws.
Listen how they care for the least.



I Hear Chatter From Her Bones


The Marseillaise still crackles from the once-phonograph.

“Repeat: une, deux, trois…”
Sister Marie Juliette drills French into our heads.
Her steel eyes sear, mercurial bullets.
White jowls creep from her gelid collar,
ooze of a snake, engorged.
Teacher more sturdy than oak in her black workman-shoes
snaps, two raps on my wrist bone.
In Louisiana air dizzy fledglings wilt upright.
I’m paralyzed.
Tumbling voice of the parochial teacher
hisses out from
her bites burying my sleep.
Night drives the decades.

The Marseillaise still crackles from the once-phonograph.

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