May the Generations Die in the Right Order


Product Description

poems by

Penelope Scambly Schott

Poetry book, 86 pages, $12 cover price

($10 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-062-6

Released: 2007

This manuscript was selected for publication after finishing as a finalist in the 2006 MSR Poetry Book Award.

About The Author

Penelope Scambly Schott has worked as a donut maker in a cider mill, a home health aide, an artist’s model, and, through it all, a college professor. After many years in rural New Jersey, she moved to Portland, Oregon where she writes, paints, hikes, and spoils her husband and her current dog more completely than it would have been safe to spoil her children.

She has published a novel, four chapbooks, and four books of poetry: Penelope: The Story of the Half-Scalped Woman and The Pest Maiden: A Story of Lobotomy are both verse narratives based on historical research; The Perfect Mother and Baiting the Void are collections of poems. About to be published is a new historical narrative, A Is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth.

She is a member of three poetry groups, Pearls, Portlandia, and The Cool Women Poets of New Jersey, and her poetry is included on the new CD The Cool Women Collect Themselves. She has been awarded fellowships by the New Jersey Council on the Arts and at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, The Vermont Studio Center, and most recently at The Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico where an argumentative magpie insisted on dictating poems to her. In an ongoing effort to be agreeable, she wrote them down.


Insightful, sure footed, possessed of an unerring ear for the music of language, Schott summons deft images from the natural world as she confronts the great themes of literature: death, love and the human experience, its duplicity and grace, this is the work of a poet writing in full stride. Praise be.

Colette Inez

Penelope Scambly Schott’s poems give her readers what feels like the first welcome taste of strong coffee in the morning, waking us up to that amazing light pouring through the window, the window on this particular morning being a way into a world that the poet sees with her own unique vision. For years her poems have wakened me out of the ordinary into the mysteries of the ordinary–the music of rot in the icebox, blue zero in the sky, a donkey’s eyelashes like wet lace, or Kali’s dance under the basketball hoop. In “The Purpose of Purpose,” she offers what could well be her own sense of purpose –“when I woke up this morning/hearing the creek, I thought// joy, maybe it’s joy, the way sunshine pulls me….” Each poem in this bracing collection rings like a bell: Wake up! Wake up!

Kathryn Stripling Byer
North Carolina Poet Laureate


What’s Inside

When I opened the box
and took out the bag

when I unfolded the top of the bag
and reached in past my wrist

when I unfurled my fingers
and poked toward the bottom of the bag

when I stroked something
that almost felt like fur

it was my dead father’s springy white hair
it was my yellow dog’s silky coat

it was the channeled mink coat of the lady
who used to live downstairs

it was the silk-lined ermine muff
from when I was a princess

it was the damp taste of my yellow pigtail
wound around a puffy red thumb

it was one howl in a chorus
on this treeless hill

it was the tufted and variegated pelt
I am sprouting in my sleep

What the Bed Knows

I am a bed in a busy house of loss,
frost in the yard and inside the house.

Today I am married to the lamp shade:
we cast our hot eye on the damp head

of a solitary woman dreaming of lions,
whiskers purring, fur on the quilt, not

this wide, cold sheet. No silence
ever wider than death, no absence

more complete. The languor of grief
astounds her. Her fingers are weak,

and she holds sadness like a handful
of loose gravel,

not knowing how to set it down.

Drowned Twin

His wish
was to lift his green stone hands.

He had rested his face
on the river bottom

where lullabies for minnows
couldn’t help.

I knew what would happen:
Spring-rising is a fact

we learned when his bones
surfaced in the lower meadow.

Such certainty comforts our father
while our mother sighs over her son

in his wedding suit of lupine.
Now I carry his death

like a blue bouquet,
like a promise encrypted

in clear water,
like a second heart in my chest.

SKU: 978-1-59948-062-6 Category: Tag: