Any Other Branch
Page Count: 68
Publication Date: Friday, February 15, 2013
Cover Artwork: Big Pinkie by Beth Page
About this Book
The poems in Any Other Branch are grouped into four sections; representing developmental stages of life. The stages are grand leaps, rather than small steps or divisions of time. They are emotional groupings based on the way each poem ties into the next and the section’s over-arching theme. Ivy Page employs a philosophical approach to the psychology of human response. She explores the world through different perspectives, lending each poem emotional, moral, and intellectual depth.
“Nothing, lately, from my kitchen / tastes as sweet as ink,” declares Ivy Page, and in brief lyrics that are humorous and sensual (“Like the warm lick across my thigh / when you come to bed early”), she balances that sweetness with an irreverent tang to allay her spiritual hunger: “Give me light in the world gone dark in the center / of some black rose, some angelic tar pit.” Any Other Branch is a book of such sly surfaces that often reveal surprising depths.
These poems are short and quick, but of great consequence, like bullets. The language here is filled with roosters and diets and radiators that simply refuse to let go. I love the directness of Ivy Page’s tone in this work, how “Dogs hang in my throat trying to push past my heart,” as she writes, and how a “Man knows how to dress / like a woman, not in women’s clothes.” Indeed. Any Other Branch reminded me of early work by a brilliant contemporary Irish poet Rita Ann Higgins—in how these lines punch (“birds wear headphones/ in your dreams. Their limbs are fat.”) and how they stand up for one woman’s voice, and how they laugh (“Jesus ate my Buick, so I might have to walk / miles to find these parts”) out loud, in a full voice, unafraid.
Any Other Branch is a collection that’s both incredibly grounded, and also filled with psychological urgency. The poems originate in the personal, but extend effortlessly into the deeply universal, showcasing a fine and original imagination, and humanity to spare.
author of Stumble, Gorgeous and the New York Times Best Seller, The Paris Wife
With “children dancing in ginger spiced corridors,” a pumpkin lover “glowing / with the light I gave,” and “wooden men who dance / on boards with dowels sticking out / of their backs,” Ivy Page populates a lush and surreal world. It’s a world full of ‘branches’—of crossroads, choices and consequences rendered in sensual, sometimes surprising language and imagery.
author of Luck and A Thirst That's Partly Mine
Ivy Page lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her husband and two daughters. She holds an MFA in Poetry from New England College. Her work has appeared in journals such as Night Train, Poetry Quarterly, Grey Sparrow Press, Boston Literary Magazine, The Houston Literary Review, Midwest Literary Magazine and New Plains Review, among others. Her work has also been anthologized in Knocking at the Door: Approaching the Other. She is the editor and founder of Organs of Vision and Speech Magazine. She works to keep her local poetry community active by running a reading series for poets. Ivy teaches writing, literature, communication, publication, web publication, and history at colleges throughout New Hampshire. For more information visit her website: www.poeticentanglement.com
Read a sample from this book
If I knew that those Sunday-school stories I heard would become
a ball of uncertainty rolling around inside me,
if my parents hadn’t kicked me out for dating the youth pastor wannabe,
and I hadn’t moved in with the married lesbian.
If the married lesbian hadn’t decided to divorce her husband
I wouldn’t have ended up living in Athens, Georgia where
I would, in the span of a week discover that my boyfriend was
cheating on me, miscarry our baby, and get mugged.
If I hadn’t moved in with my ex-boyfriend’s mother after that
and then in with a distant cousin in Milledgeville, Georgia
where I would find my perceptions altered by practicing the loss
of time through smoke and mushrooms, multiple partners
and practicing being Good Enough* at karaoke. Or if my drinking buddy
hadn’t said that the guy running the karaoke night
was gay, so that I challenged — I would bet her a beer that I could
get him in the sack, and if he hadn’t asked for my
number that same night only to tear it up a week later because I turned him
down because I was still only seventeen and wouldn’t be
let into the bar where he wanted to take me dancing. And if the drummer
in the band I sang for hadn’t done twelve shots of white
lightning the following New Year’s and then urinated on me in bed because
he was in diabetic shock, and if I hadn’t covered the shift
delivering pizzas for the girl I worked with, and if I hadn’t gone
to the party, where the guy that ran karaoke
read poetry, and I sang bad imitations of Janis Joplin—
then I wouldn’t have ended up in place of eight month snows,
married ten years to the guy that ran karaoke, and I wouldn’t be watching our
two children recreating games of hopeful daisy chains, and
animal clouds. And if we had chosen any other branch?
* “Good Enough” Sarah McLachlan
** After W.S. Merwin’s “One of the Lives”
We had four
shipped to us in a bunch
from the hatchery. At eight
years old, on a farm
The hatchet went through
the neck of the first, smooth and easy.
Blood spurted out
the body flew to the top
of my mother’s car
parked halfway across the yard.
It flopped and sputtered then suddenly...death
on the cream colored roof.
A bright red gush running down
You can only have one rooster.
Jesus ate my Buick, so I might have to walk
miles to find the parts,
spread like pieces of the shroud,
but then I could reassemble them
and have myself a down-right Holy,
Jesus blessed, touched by the son of God vehicle.
I might have to order the book
on how to reconstruct it
and wear a hazmat suit,
and make my garage a temple
but it would be worth it.
I would build the car that Jesus shat out,
‘blessed divinity” I would call it.
The T.V. crews would show up
and ask me about the Great Prophet,
and how I knew it was him.
I’d sit back and smile:
“Ain’t nobody else could shit a Buick out made a pure gold.”
Copyright © Ivy Page 2013