Lucid Bodies


poems by

Okla Elliott

Poetry chapbook, 40 pages, $7 cover price

($5 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-039-8

Released: 2006

Selected for publication after finishing as a finalist in the 2006 MSR Chapbook Contest.

Okla Elliott lives in Columbus, OH, where he is an MFA candidate and teaching assistant at Ohio State University. He also holds an MA from UNC-Greensboro. In addition to his American education, he studied for a year at the University of Mannheim, Germany, and a semester at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. His non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction have appeared in Blue Mesa Review, Coe Review, Cold Mountain Review, International Poetry Review, Main Street Rag, Pedestal Magazine, and The Rambler, among others, and his journalistic writings have appeared in several newspapers. His poetry collection, The Mutable Wheel, illustrated by Brian Zegeer (MFA, Univ. of Pennsylvania), was published with funding from the NC Arts Council and the United Arts Council of Greensboro. He was a visiting writer at Newberry College in March 2003.

Okla Elliott’s carefully crafted poems are full of accurate observation and accurately observed emotion. What’s more, he has a zest he shares with the reader so as to make these poems truly heartening. His unusual name is worth remembering.

–David R. Slavitt,
award-winning author of Salazar Blinks,
Lives of the Saints, and
Change of Address: Poems New and Selected

A Woman is a Sometime Thing

It’s like my daddy would sing
when he sang along with Louis and Ella’s
Porgy and Bess blaring through the house
of a Sunday afternoon and
he was thinking about his ex-wife,
begging, Oh, Doctor Jesus,
please come down here and cure me
of this lonely I’ve carried all my life.
Woman is a sometime thing, he’d sing
and close his eyes to better feel
how true that is.
But then the record would let him know
It Ain’t Necessarily So.
He’d shake his head as if to say,
yeah, but the odds are stacked,
and let it go at that as the oak leaves
flipped over
silvery side up, whistling along with the music
from the open summer windows.
I think my daddy taught me right,
a woman is a sometime thing-
you can make her leave
or make her want to stay. And, son,
you’d best not live like it was otherwise.

Krakow Peasant, 1917

“Bogu swieczke i diablu ogarek.”
–Polish Proverb

Her third child was stillborn but
the fields were rich in mustard plants,
and the yogurt had turned out
better than expected His ways
are mysterious The bruise on
the heel of her hand collapsed
into exquisite pain each time
and still she gathered mustard blooms
Smashing the wood crate Bones
gave way, disintegrated into the
swollen mush of her hand Mysterious?
Hell is all it is She lit two candles-
the one for god and one for the devil,
wrapped her hand tight in burlap and
scrubbed the brown-blooded sheets
against a wooden washboard.

Entrances and Exits

When I was a younger man a boy
the intrigue of washing machine doors

trunks, windows, manholes, and secret passages
entrances and exits of all sorts

became obsessive, possessing
I spent hours passing through and back through

a simple hole in the wall of a condemned house
careful to step with the other foot

or at a new angle each time
constantly conducting experiments that might foretell

how the world would receive me
and how I would leave.

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