Introduction by Betsy Sholl; MAJ Poetry Editor

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Poet Laureate of Portland.  He is acting director of SPACE Gallery and was for several years director of The Telling Room.  His first book of poems is Death of a Ventriloquist, winner of the Vassar Miller Prize.   “Wing and a Prayer” was first published in Slice Magazine.   All three of these poems are about looking, about looking long and hard, looking in such a way that we experience a little self-forgetfulness, and thus can see the world and each other in new ways, and in the process be surprised by wonder, despite all the darkness around us, which of course we also have to see.


Gibson Fay-LeBlanc


A Preponderance of Evidence


                                    Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, and then watching the                                                                               evidence change. ― Jim Wallis

Parsons, Seeing things your way

My country ‘tis of thee

and your habeas corpus: we have the body

of a parolee who knows he’ll sin again.


Fill all hundred trillion

synapses, overload the circuits

and trip the charge to all the outlets.


A prosecution of hammers and clips.

A jury of intercontinental urns.


You’ve seen an infant’s eye,

yes? Felt tiny fingers curl

around your long uninnocent index?


And the hue of that eye matters less

if darker? And the hair? And the skin

of a plump bundle heavy in your arms?


A crapulence of spatter.

A conviction of condolences.


Sit at an actual table with plates

of fingerprinted latkes, fufu, cous-cous,

squid; this table can’t happen


in your head. Wooden and long,

a rash of speckled crumbs—the place

Vivien Russe, Cranes

we make a gentler evidence, a new kind.


Wing and a Prayer


Hook me up to a current I felt

once: birdsong so quiet it seemed

an echo of birdsong


or a creek made of air

the same temperature as a body—

a silent humming I walked through.


I’m supposed to let whatever

what is is be what I want

but I still want, I want, I want


my brother’s cells to stop their war

on each other. I want a poet

I missed too much when here.


I want the body of a woman

down the block to come back

so she can see her kids grow up


and they are seen. I know deep

in my shallow root system

all of this is so far beyond


my small tangle of electric streets

where one raindrop pushed to one side

of one honey locust leaf can mean


somewhere someone dies of thirst

and somewhere else thunder becomes

a god again. I always want rest,


oh you godless godhead, positron,

annihilation, ether or stream—

bottomless, unnameable—but I will


sit here as long as it takes and watch

for any drip, flutter, or tick

that could be your approving nod.

Gropius Forest, Ed McCartan, acrylic on canvas, 48″X48″


Turn Strange

                                                            After Duncan Hewitt

A single fork tine’s particular curve,

dent in the old metal fire grate,


bicycle tube, limp on a nail,

or little ramp at the end of her nose:


look long enough for the electrons’

course change; for cattails to be flags


of a marsh nation you enter if

you stop and take in its dank musk.


Look long enough for your son’s eyes

to green then become a black


planet with a brown ring inside

a hue you never name. Look


long enough for a blade’s letter

on thick pond ice to melt at your touch,


lost path to bliss. Look long enough

for your brother to know whenever


if ever he goes you go any

distance any stretch of road


or trip across a dark river

he carries you you carry him.


Look long enough for sight to become

work then keep that shovel as piston


as a load bearing arm until liquid

salt breaks over you like laughter’s


pure verb of lungs and blood and rhythm

not one of us can explain but damn


it’s easy. We can look long enough

for all infinitesimal tremors


in all our small cell walls to beatbox

together a one two a one two.