A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Dorianne Laux's fourth book of poems,
Facts about the Moon (W.W. Norton), is the recipient of the Oregon Book Award, chosen by Ai. It was also short-listed
for the 2006 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for the most outstanding book of poems published in the United States in the
previous year and chosen by the Kansas City Star as a noteworthy book of 2005. Laux is also author of three collections of
poetry from BOA Editions, Awake (1990) introduced by Philip Levine, reprinted this year by Eastern Washington University Press,
What We Carry (1994) and Smoke (2000). Red Dragonfly Press will release Superman: The Chapbook, later this year.
Co-author of The Poet's Companion, sheís the recipient of two Best American Poetry Prizes, a
Best American Erotic Poems Prize, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts
and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her work has appeared in the Best of the American Poetry Review,
The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, and sheís a frequent contributor to Orion and Ms. Magazine.
Laux has waited tables and written poems in San Diego, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Petaluma, California and
Juneau, Alaska. In 1994 she moved to Eugene where she's now a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Oregon and
teaches at Pacific University's Low Residency MFA Program. She lives with her husband, the poet Joseph Millar.
Two Poems by Dorianne Laux
Laundry And Cigarettes
This tourist ashtray is faux porcelain, creamy white,
gold-plated ridges molded into the four curved corners
where a cigarette can rest. Iíve counted sixteen
crushed butts, spittle-laced filters of lipsticked
Winstons, half-moon traces the color of dried blood,
to which Iíve added my own, chemical free,
25 cents a blow American Spirits, waiting
while my laundry tumbles dry in the basement,
stranded for an hour under a 40 watt bulb
amid the drone of machinery, the wet thud
of summer cotton. Itís 2004 and Iím tired,
so I poke my lit cigarette into the mess,
herding the butts around the tray.
Under butt # 1 The Alamo, its arched doorways
and crumbling adobe, its pitiful American flag,
the paved path landscaped with topiary hedges
clipped into pale green balls. Under butt # 2
The Port of Houston, washed-out blue waters
beneath inked-in waves, a cargo ship, the boom
lowering a casket-shaped bale, two palm trees
stuck like shocked weeds near the loading dock.
Butt # 3 reveals a row of oil rigs growing
smaller in the nicotine-coated distance.
This section of the tray is labeled Midland.
Dead center, a decapitated bull. Longhorn,
of course. Sweeping the ashes aside with a lit coal,
as if painting in reverse, the state flag unfurls
its strict pastures of red, white and blue, its famous,
five-pointed star. Under butt # 4 who else
but a buckaroo, one arm held up, face turned away,
no reporters in sight, plaid shirt, bowed legs, corn
yellow hat. Behind him, the lovers on horseback
wearing clean white shirts, collars up, trotting,
heterosexually, through the shadow of Guadalupe Peak.
[From Facts About the Moon]
On The Back Porch
The cat calls for her dinner.
On the porch I bend and pour
brown soy stars into her bowl,
stroke her dark fur.
Itís not quite night.
Pinpricks of light in the eastern sky.
Above my neighborís roof, a transparent
moon, a pink rag of cloud.
Inside my house are those who love me.
My daughter dusts biscuit dough.
And thereís a man who will lift my hair
in his hands, brush it
until it throws sparks.
Everything is just as Iíve left it.
Dinner simmers on the stove.
Glass bowls wait to be filled
with gold broth. Sprigs of parsley
on the cutting board.
I want to smell this rich soup, the air
around me going dark, as stars press
their simple shapes into the sky.
I want to stay on the back porch
while the world tilts
toward sleep, until what I love
misses me, and calls me in.