Julia Story, Post Moxie, Sarabande Books, 2010

Reviewed by Kim Parko

[Review Guidelines]



Post Moxie has been my guest for a few weeks now.

A good guest visits and the host wants the good guest to stay or wants the good guest to return. The good guest lingers with the host, even after the good guest is gone. The host thinks, "I'm so glad I invited that guest; that guest nestled into one of my empty spaces". A good guest is an "enduring guest".

Julia Story's Post Moxie is a good guest, an enduring guest. The following etiquette for the enduring guest can be found in Post Moxie:

The enduring guest comes in bowing:

We look at a statue and feel
uncomfortable. I am backward light,
which isn't a cool as it sounds.

The enduring guest sits down quietly, unassuming:

...but I'm a blonde
and from Indiana so I look at the floor
and smile.

The enduring guest listens to the ocean with whale ears:

It is hard to get the orchid to live
because it is easier to die. I want to
charge through the doorway of arms.
People can't stop me: illuminated under
lights, baking into different hardnesses.
Chatting and letting their eyes sink into
the corners where shabby sales reps wait,
growing polite and sleepy beneath the

The enduring guest builds emotional undulation through sublime plainspeak:

I bring her a whole tree ripped from the ground,
its roots trailing mites and clingy
damp clods. If I could get inside then
everything would be ok: breadstick-
shaped lights would quit falling all over
me. When he finally took his stuff so he
could let a shorter person take care of
him, ants came in and bothered us. You
poor thing, she tells me and rubs my
forehead with bark and we carve a deep
cavern inside us and rest for a while in
the damp.

The enduring guest knows the host's tongue, but impresses the host by moving the tongue at compelling angles:

I was field-colored and, in a certain
light, field-shaped.

The enduring guest keeps its nightmares dressed in simple pajamas:

Soon I forget: a certain intake of breath,
little things with the eyes, what a hand
might do beyond official work. The night
erects a platform so I can keep a safe
distance from my sleep.

The enduring guest presumes to know nothing more than the perimeter of its knowing:

Everything sounds like air as I walk from
one end of the room to another. I prefer
silence. It isn't the loneliness as much as
the right angles everywhere that bother
me. I'll think that I've finished my circle
but there aren't any circles or enough
crooners in the world to adequately
express this.

Before leaving, the enduring guest offers a present to the host that the host can display to remind them of the guest. This present is displayed in the host's body: sometimes it rolls loosely on the floor, sometimes it's lost in a corner, sometimes it finds the pulse, sometimes it obstructs the breathing, sometimes it clutters the inside, sometimes it sits on the mantelpiece, sometimes it leans against the center, pressing the empathy from the dust-covered vase.

Here is the offering that Post Moxie left inside of me, the host:

(The sadness, the seasons, the breathing, the senses. Blur and haze. The strangers, he, she, come bearing secrets, curl up in the heart, leave as strangers. The hand can't touch so the words try to adhere like wet leaves. Try to coat the person on top of their skin. Try to get past the skin like a lesion. The past. Its unseverable cord. The gentle or manhandling touch of weather. The fields between. The words coming up to the throat or lost on the tip of the tongue. The words surrendering. Inadequate. Achy without balm. Balmed by proximity. The words. The loneness of words not hugging, not touching, the fields in-between them, the channels of wind blowing at them, eroding. The firm words. The "I'm not going anywhere." words. Winter. The façadeless apartments. The ubiquitous traffic. The day as a succession of afterthoughts. The past as afterthought. The roots, pulled up. The withering. The touching a tree with words. Words with opened nerve ends. Words bandaged against the softest air.)

* * *

Julia Story's Post Moxie comes in as a guest and sloughs the callused ego that keeps it from connecting with the host. Post Moxie is not an arrogant guest, assaulting the host with clever superficiality or bitter cynicism; it is a guest that dives into the communal reservoir of what is deeply felt. Post Moxie's words convey an inability to truly express what is found in the reservoir, with its ambiguous currents and unresolved inceptions. But it is the ardent telling of this inadequacy, this uncertainty, that resonates and endures in the humble space that is carved out by the course of living a life.



Chat Between Guest (Julia Story) and Host (Kim Parko)

Kim: Describe the posture of your poems.

Julia: They sit cross-legged as they try to meditate, fiddling with their breathing. Certain that they are doing it incorrectly, certain that there must be a right way.

What is their gait?

Quick-paced, as down a sidewalk in December when it is dark and you are heading toward your car. The way you might walk when a really cold wind is hitting you in the face and you forgot your hat. You feel late and walk late.

What is their mantra?

Here/there, here/there.

If your poems were babies, what are the first words you would teach them?


What is the first poem you didn't write?

Anything about my childhood.

What makes you know that it has ended? that it should continue?

1. When it stops and I feel slightly less angry. 2. When I still feel really angry.

Describe your locus.

Water shining and rippling anywhere, even inside. Pine needles.

What is the focal length of your poems?

To the end of the block and back in suburbia, walking a stubborn dachshund.

What's beneath the limestone of your home-state? your homeostasis?

1. A fidgety insurance salesman named Brian. Someone gave him a devil costume but he doesn't want to put it on. He sighs loudly every time he is reminded that he needs to put it on so that he can properly represent hell. 2. A green light.

Is there a pole you tether your sadness to? What is it made of?

Yes. Dog hair (Corgi). There is the sound of 80s sitcom theme songs in the background and something is frying on the stove. The overwhelming feeling of Chemistry homework.

What is your locust? Your plague?

1. Dreams I can't remember. 2. Not being awake enough to take it all in. Not being able to open my eyes wide enough Worried that I'll always worry about my identity and the way others perceive me.

What would you look like if you were turned inside out? Outside in?

1. A red map of how to get to Jesus, with arrows pointing the wrong way. 2. The same map but of the Devil.

If the poem is a map, describe the treasure. If the poem is not a map, describe the pirates.

The treasure is millions of tiny lights, held in an owl's talons, at night in my old neighborhood (it's the right neighborhood for everyone). The owl is sitting on a stop sign. You get to make eye contact with the owl and it lasts for hours and takes you further and further into yourself or into the owl. You forget about the lights.

What myth do we need? Why?

We each need our own private mytOur lives' work is to determine what they are. Because we have no choice.

What is inside the world?

Lots of heartache and lots of water, surrounded by trees.