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Laura Rogerson Moore

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  Splendor  

available on Amazon and at Kelsay Books, January 2021 

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Both crackling with life and still with the unyieldingness of death, Moore’s Splendor examines the natural world with the precision of a botanist, while also reveling in the careless abandon of unfolding romance, leaving you with the taste of wild grapes, the spine-chill of a stag’s death stare, and the reminder that a single person can bring back the things we thought we might have lost. A lyrical triumph, Splendor presents us with a keyhole into someone else’s most private heart, so that we, in turn, may spy into our own.
 

—Micah Hales, author of the novel Howl 

With virtuosic restraint, Moore weaves a lifetime of wonder into 59 short poems, yielding imagery as evocative for what isn't shown as for what is. That's perfect for a story about the unknown. Immersed in its bucolic New England setting, Moore's narrative is equal parts descriptive and introspective—and often both at once. She is a master of her craft.

—Nick Brown, Reuters

Moore’s Splendor turns a keen eye on the human and natural worlds. Through 59 interconnected poems that together weave a layered portrait of a family in transition, Splendor builds a story—of love and loss, death and desire, family of birth and choice—that is as compelling as the language used to tell it. Readers of both prose and poetry will be struck by this nuanced study of the dualities that exist within each of us, and of what we choose to share.

 

—Jamie Ducharme, TIME magazine staff writer and author of the forthcoming book Big Vape 

Laura Rogerson Moore’s collection suggests love’s power lies in witness. Her poems cull the oldest of narratives to tell the story of four souls who empower one another with the privilege of their own integrity—the realization of their whole and uncorrupted selves—and the grace of that beholding in all its splendor.

 

—Irshad Manji, Founder, Moral Courage Project

summary of Splendor by Laura Rogerson Moore

 

The fifty-nine poems in this collection are suffused with light as they tell a story of a girl named Phoebe, her mother and father, and a stranger named O’Ryan who comes to be one of them. Set in rural New England in the middle of the 20th century and written in Phoebe’s voice, Splendor captures the extraordinary lives of these four ordinary people who seek a way to exist beyond the expectations of their world. Weaving her present with her past, Phoebe recounts her days as a child, her young womanhood, and her final years, certain of both her incorruptible self and of her joy, acknowledged and sustained by wonder and love. 

Splendor would not have come to be without the inspiration of two beloved people whose story inspired it. Throughout my childhood, I listened to my father tell stories of his boyhood summers in Vermont, haying on his best friend’s farm, and of the girl who lived down the road. When my parents bought their sixty acres up the hill from Wayside Farm, she and the fellow who had lived on the farm with her and her mother for decades helped us cut a road, dig a well, and eventually build a house. In my early adulthood, after her mother had passed on, I went to work for the two of them on the farm, and while I will never know just what their living arrangement was, I was always certain of her incorruptible wonder and joy. I have spent the years since imagining how that wonder and joy came to be. Splendor is the story of that imagining, and what you read in the poems is invented from the place and what little I knew of the two who lived there. 

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cover and trailer artist Katherine Rogerson Moore's website: http://mybluebirdofhappiness.blogspot.com/p/artist.html

from Splendor

Clean Splitting

Balanced on the ridge between two ruts, I

sifted through a stack of bills, wondering

how we’d pay until an oil truck came rumbling

 

past the mailbox, parking over by the barn

and out emerged a man who asked which side

the house our oil tank was on. What I noticed 

 

was his sturdiness, a bulk I’d come to learn

would disappear in usefulness and labor.

I gestured round the house where, by the kitchen

 

door, the wood pile fell well below the sill.

We’d yet to raise it. Dressed in black still, Mother

peered from up in Daddy’s room where she’d been

 

sorting through his paintings since the day before.

Unfurled, their piney expirations traced the darkness

where I lay across the hall in my narrow

 

bed. We could sell some more of them, we knew,

but Mother hated choosing. More losing

made her cry. “We don’t have a furnace,” I

 

explained, and he nodded as if expecting

me to say so. The mud that caked his tires

had sprayed his rig and tank both sides and told

 

me just how far he’d come to find us out.

“May I offer you a glass of water?”

I asked and led him to the kitchen door.

 

Three days later when he returned, the sun had

barely risen after hours of wintry

mix. Mother was asleep upon the couch

 

because she’d never got to bed, unpaid

bills stacked beside her there. Neither of us

heard his coming or saw him park where he

 

had parked before. What woke us was his axe,

the steady thwack and thunk of clean splitting,

the damp and muddy silences between.

 

Things I’d Thought I Might Have Lost

 

Swept clean, stalls shoveled

daily, fresh shavings laid,

 

the loft stacked high with bales,

their symmetry assuring—the barn

 

O’Ryan kept just right. I liked

to lie there on the rainy evenings

 

when the chores were done and day

was letting go, unraveling. The watery

 

noise beating on the tin above, the lowing

of his cows below left more room for thought.

 

When I aroused at last, returning to the house,

no one ever asked me where I’d been. Draping

 

them across my kitchen chair

as breakfast started—more than once—

 

O’Ryan brought me back

a sweater, scarf, or hat struck with strands of hay—

 

things I’d thought

I might have lost.

 

Revolutions

 

And so we rose

each morning.

 

And so we set

each evening.

 

And so we wished

for more or

 

less. And so

we did not

 

turn from one

another.

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Moore has taught writing at Lawrence Academy since 1983. Published in 2021, Splendor is her third book of poetry. In 2017, Kelsay Books published Using Your Words, a book-length collection of narrative verse exploring the lives of 3 generations of women in the same family as, without a map, they navigate the choices of the past sixty years. Moore's chapbook Yahoodips, a collection written in memory of her father, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010. Several journals and magazines have recognized and published her poetry and short fiction. Her essays about education are available through NAIS. Her books are available through their publisher and on Amazon.  

 

also by Laura Rogerson Moore: 

 

Using Your Words, Kelsay Books 2017  

Yahoodips, Finishing Line Press, 2010

 

available on Amazon and through the publisher

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from Using Your Words

Burden of the Past

 

Such high expectations for years and years, and, always,

you fell short of them – you’ve re-read what you wrote,

 

recognized you were doing your best – a familiar girl,

difficult, unmeasured; everyone was. Half finished

 

reading Jackson Bate’s book on Johnson for your last exam,

exhausted but couldn’t sleep, you suddenly decided

 

to walk all over town, looking for another notebook,

which you found at Store 24, and a pen. Bate made

 

you believe you have conviction, and his affection

drove you round the corner, down the street,

 

back up the dormitory stairs and to your room.

There will always be something to say.

What You Mean

 

The moon is only visible

because the sun

undoes its darkness.

 

Some loves you choose.

Some love chooses you.

Call it love and wish it love

 

when what you mean is

something else – a knot

you can’t untie.

 

Unlatch and open.

 

A thousand thoughts fly out,

white with hope of light

that may not break.

Good Girl

 

Springtime and the peepers cry

out for each other,

 

and the trail is darker than

the darkening air,

 

and from up ahead of you, shirt-tails flying,

bare feet pumping the pedals

 

as she disappears into

the sightless night,

 

Louisiana’s voice drifts down,

“I had a dream last night

 

that I could lick myself all

over, like a dog, until

 

I became invisible.”

And though you cannot see

 

her, you know that

voice, how it has changed her

 

face as she starts to sing,

“Cause I’m free,

 

I’m free falling.”

from Yahoodips

Last Year

 

We look through your pocket calendar, starting

at the back, birthdays, phone numbers, accounts,

medications, dosages, refill information. “He

never started another,” she tells me. We flip to

December, the family Christmas on the twenty-

ninth, an iron shot, rehab three days a week,

her seventieth two days before you died, and

the appointment you kept that last Monday.

 

“He knew,” she says. Sunday night you told her you

thought you might be admitted the next day; you felt

that bad. Thanksgiving and the half of us who made it

penciled in. September and a soccer game. I had to walk

you to and from the car. August and a trip to the lake.

July and a badminton tournament in the yard, getting

the kids out of the house so you could nap. June, May,

April, March and February, every week another set of

doctor, lunch, and dinner dates, people up to visit.

 

When did you decide? One day in the pharmacy when

you stood by those little leather volumes, the new

year stamping across them in gold? Did you linger or

hurry past? Did you glance up at the sunlight skating

across the windowglass, a strange woman on the

sidewalk, tightening her scarf around her open throat?

 

Did you step outside, head home, the medicine forgotten,

and the road familiar as the backs of the vivid dreams that

woke you every morning before daybreak when you’d

lie on your half of the bed and watch morning reinvent

itself, marching its fingertips of light over the hills,

like a mother distracting her little boy with play?       

The Love Story

 

Frankie keeps asking

if you’re done being dead

 

yet. He wanders away

from the kitchen,

 

unsatisfied. Outside

the sky finds a raven,

 

black as blindness,

outlined in wings.

 

Later a sideways snow

will wrap the stones

 

in purest white. We are

growing older without you.

Yahoodips

 

The days go

by, the possible,

the impossible.

 

You always let us

find you.

 

What more is there

to say, though all else

repeats itself? You would

want to start over.

 

The rest of us move in

what insists on being

a forward motion.

 

Ready or not,

here we come.    

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Contact

For any inquiries, please contact Laura Rogerson Moore.

Tel: 978-877-6705 | lmoore@lacademy.edu

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