Start with Blue selected poems by J. A. Batty
all colors From the Editor
I think the best writing relies heavily on the imagination of the reader. If the writer takes care to leave a very light thumbprint, then that allows the reader to make the work his or her own and it takes on additional richness and texture— a life far beyond even what the writer had imagined. –J.A. Batty This is the power you have been given as readers in this Spotlight – to enhance, to apply texture, to enrich, to shape, to mold, and to surrender. To read this poet’s writing is not merely passive entertainment. For a writer such as she, the reader is given far more responsibility. You are a poet, just as she is a reader. Picture this: a low light flashlight illuminating a moonlit scene, both shining and outcast by darkness. This is what her poetry is to me. Written in shadows as much as anything. It knows the fundamental importance of mystery and abstraction in communicating the edges of spirit and emotion. Through short descriptive images and overcast dialogue, J.A. Batty
pencils together a philosophical exploration of the unfamiliar and the familiar: “We need to talk,” it said, “Have you decided on a name? There must be a name or how will we know what to call you, how to treat you, what you should do?” Solace thrives in the absence of meaning, spirituality in the spaces between... Let the shadows seep into corners; sweep across chairs, faces and shoes... But, you will also find, in each of these poems, lines that read like aphorisms. A single line can hold the heart still, give pause, and if taken in, resonate inside like truths always do. We can find ourselves there with her in each poem, standing in a room, watching the moon, hearing a voice, loving, afraid, wishing, believing. Feeling with fullness the present moment. For it is time present which is the concern of the poet here. Through her eyes, we are given only a limited view. We are not offered characters and scenes that expand
for miles. We are not given new worlds to travel in and explore. We are only given the here and now. And, in having much of the flesh cut away, we stand looking at bone. The rest is yours to imagine. Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable. —T.S. Eliot In preparation for this Spotlight, we asked the author a little about the writing process: Writing lets me explore moments in time— shaving them to a pinpoint or widening the focus to see how far the ripples travel. She adds: I am inspired by words themselves—how they sound, their origins, how they can be layered together to create different meanings.
and none I find inspiration in love, loss, myths and fables, in the language of what is spoken as well as what is kept silent. I carry a small notebook with me to jot down ideas. There are pieces of paper and sticky notes all over the house with the beginnings of poems or bits of stories. Among my favorite authors are T.S. Eliot, James Thurber, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, W.H. Auden, David Wroblewski, Katherine Anne Porter, E.E. Cummings, Flannery Oâ€™Connor, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Michael Ondaatje and Isabel Allende.
1 Living and writing out of Arlington, Virginia, J.A. Batty is the kind of writer that we, at Rust+Moth, created our journal to publish. When we first came upon her work, almost a year ago, in August of 2009, we all knew we had to publish more of her writing. Over the next few months, we published two more poems. And, after more correspondence, we are proud to
present this collection of those previously published poems and new works.
A Table of Contents
Much time and thought has gone into representing her poetry in a way consistent with the content, showing the boldness, the depth, the space, and the color. It is one of our proudest issues to date, and we hope that you, as readers, will find as much in these poems as we have.
From the Editor
This is a true privilege for me to be able to have you turn this page now and begin reading her works.
Where It Hurts
Clean White Heart
Not Lost Black Light Driving Into the Moon
The Insomniac Lodger Start With Blue Credits
Not Lost Slung between grass and sky Leaves drop their silhouettes to stir over us and settle briefly before dancing away Sunlight darts in, scattering its warmth here, there and there Stillness moving The freedom to go makes it easy to stay Time—what is that to us in this place, this woven boat There is no time but this now, no other place but this here No path to follow, just the lines leading from one palm to another No map, no direction, just us floating on air, letting the currents carry us It doesn’t matter where We’re not lost as long as we’re together
Black Light Silence as song Oil-slick black, incandescent with absorbed light All colors and none Raw and slathered New earth turned, rich and waiting Solace thrives in the absence of meaning, spirituality in the spaces between Undetected holes fill, a stitching up of the soul A soothing hand on a feverish brow Peace enters quietly, brushing against your arm
Driving Into the Moon Up and over Ride the rise to infinity Liquid cool, the taste of ice on the tongue Heavenâ€™s plaything melts from a loverâ€™s lantern down to a sliver, a whisper Leaving behind its gauzy cloak and glitterdust jewels Bit by bit, wish by wish, it fattens on a diet of dreams Ripe with light, it draws close the frothy mane then pushes it away The pearl ascends until swallowed by a frog, leaving darkness to enfold the earth
The Salon A good room to be lost in and a good room to find whatâ€™s lost Let the shadows seep into corners; sweep across chairs, faces and shoes; Push into quiet places laying gray upon gray, sea and stone, life and dream Drawn by ambiguity toward the umbra, compelled by the otherworldly palette clothing the salonâ€™s presiding member A fierce hunger waits beneath the brim to devour a glance; once fed, forever held
Expectation was waiting up for me when I got home last night. “We need to talk,” it said, “Have you decided on a name? There must be a name or how will we know what to call you, how to treat you, what you should do? “Are you a misplaced shoe, a tea towel, a garden trowel? Are you a scrap of wrapping paper, a bit of gristle, a tiny floating thistle? “The name is important,” it said, “Or how else will we know whether to bring out the hanky or the bootstrap, the carrot or the stick, the marigold or the iris? There must be a name,” it said, and then folded into a ladybug and flew away home. I bent to pick dandelions glowing in the moonlight as the scent of smoke scratched against darkness.
Just here, I say, pointing The tinker opens the door over my heart, peering at the workings, at the clock hands frozen at 2:30 in the eternal January air. Can you fix it? Tempus fugit from this season to the next, he says, best to stand still than to erase footprints in your haste to get away. He closes the door and pushes his cart away to find the next broken thing. Faintly, faintly, a tick, tick, tick
Where it Hurts
Clean white heart Soapstone lying amid granite Seasoned and shaped by a mother’s voice, a bird’s song, a dog’s velvet ear Nicks, gashes, cuts covered with stamps Feeling through life as if groping in a dark room, a foothold on wet rocks Stamp after stamp covers the stone finger-painted ruby red
A tickle of new softness Down feathers its way out of the heart Softness tempered into sleekness The strength of feathers—now the knowledge to use them
Clean T WhiteF Heart 10
From beneath, behind, over, under, beside, Fear in soft clothes comesâ€” Closer, constant, sudden, swift The eternal weavers work their silver looms Line upon line of fragile menace spools a ghost bridge to the nidus I did not wish to know this, but I wouldnâ€™t change his telling me.
n Three eFeet t 11
A nice day, people say. A beautiful day, they say, an hourglass in every word. Raise your face to the sky and fists of sunlight crush bone, shards now freed, float, skim, scrape inside your head and elbow against your eyes. The lodger claws its way hot, hot down the throat. Circling, circling it makes a bed in the stomach, clamping in sharp teeth before falling asleep. Keep still, breathe carefully, try not to wake it. It never sleeps for long.
The Insomniac Lodger 12
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Start with Blue
Start with blue. Then think and think and think and think until itâ€™s beaten purpleblack. Seal in envelope and set on fire in kitchen sink. Scrape ashes from sink into clear bottle. Leave corked ashes on beach for tide to take. When horizon sends it back, chew until glass and ash are gone. Begin again.
Layout and Design by Josiah Spence (BowlerHatCreative.com). Issue Photography by Matthew Payne. Editors: Matthew Payne, Josiah Spence, Michael Young, and Suncerae Smith. All content ÂŠ 2010 Rust and Moth- ISSN 1942-5848. All contributors retain individual rights to their works upon publication. Thank you to all of our readers and to J. A. Batty for her talent. rustandmoth.com
In this special Poetry Spotlight Issue of Rust+Moth, we explore the work of the incomparable J. A. Batty.