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Carolyn Moore

The Next Time Art Seduces You

For instance, here—in etching and collagraph—

a nocturnal scene we crave yet seldom find.

This tree lacks obvious roots and thus absolves

itself from all responsibility

for drawing water from the nearby lake

serene enough to chart the dithered path

of an off-stage moon. A stucco house affirms

this moon, the lakeward wall awash in light

launched from a point of faith beyond the frame.


We sense the etching’s parenthetical

to our desire to know the moon exists

beyond our view—as do all absent fowl—

goatsuckers, frogmouths, oilbirds. For their sake

the imagination freckles the fancied moon’s

wan face with pointillist specks to stand for gnats

whose whine of "take me now!" our birds oblige.


How quick the mind is to clutter when it needs

to purge the glut of detail. If this lake

is not responsible for the thirst of trees,

who themselves refuse to form a plan for roots,

surely we’re freed from guilt for appetites

of birds who wait unbidden in the wings

to indulge the hankering imagination?

We yield from hunger to temptations art

allows us. This is your cautionary tale.


Carolyn Moore’s poems have garnered over sixty awards and honors including the Foley Poetry Award, the New Millennium Writing Award, and the C. Hamilton Bailey Fellowship for Poetry from Literary Arts, Inc. Her first collection, Against a Second Fall, won the 2005 New Eden Chapbook Competition. Three more chapbook mss. won their respective competitions in 2008: The Last Night of Maskmaking (Southern Hum Press), The Great Uncluttering (co-winner, Bread and Lightning Press), and The Flavors of Quarks and Blame (The Refined Savage Press).  After a long teaching stint at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, Moore is now a freelance writer and researcher working from the last remnant of the family farm in Tigard, Oregon.

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