Lisa McCool-Grime & Nancy Flynn

As two poets who've been working in a "poetry partnership" for several years, collaborating on this Odes of Opposition project came quite naturally for us. Since "meeting" in an on-line class via Writers on the Net, we had already established a comfortable and compatible process for sharing our work-in-progress for critique. This back-and-forth has included everything from the big-picture rough draft feedback to the nitpicking of words, syllables, and sounds as a poem inched closer toward done; from snarky complaints about our reading lives to glowing, page-long annotations on our current poetry loves.  Odes of Opposition extends many of these skills and conversations we've privately built between us into the public forum.  They are as much odes to our own working relationship as to anything else.




from Odes of Opposition

I.  Emily Dickinson:  I heard a Fly buzz - when I died (591)

And on the Birth Day, She Rested:  Nancy Opposes Emily

She felt a Tree sway - while she birthed -
A Hubbub out the Door
Grew as the Hubbub crossed the Earth
Surrounding Waves of Calm -

All Tears within - had doused her wet -
And deaths were scattering soft
Since that first Ending - as a Queen
Stayed secret - past the Wing -

She eased his Castoffs - Unsigned home
That wholeness of him free
Reclaimable - and now they are
Here enveloped with Tree -

With Red - and certain - sure-foot sway
Around the dark - and you -
For when the Walls broke down - yes, when
She could but be to be -

Before Death’s Night, He Toiled:  Lisa Opposes Nancy

He thought the Birds trapped - before he died -
The Emptiness in Windows
Shrank until the Emptiness settled a Heaven
Within Storms of Anxiety

No Warble nearby - had sunned him dry
But life was cobbling, rough
Before this last Start - not the King
Once announced - under an Arch

He pounded his Beloved - stained country
This fraction of her walled
Irreparable - but then he was
There pierced by Birds

By Green - yet unsure - unsteady trap
In a sunbeam - not him
But then a Window raised up - no, then
He was dying to die.  

II.  Walt Whitman:  Song of Myself, Part 31

With Another's Forged Sinew:  Lisa Opposes Walt

You doubt the soil of earth is more than a chamber play of the planets
But a grasshopper isn't unfavorably flawed, nor the glass of volcanoes, nor the carcass of a vulture,
But a flower prince isn't graffiti by low-brows,
But a squatting mushroom wouldn't dirty one bedroom of hell,
But a wide clamp on your mouth keeps from praise no beast,
But a horse spitting with reared hooves falls short of no painting,
But the rat isn't so large a blight as to trample even one believer.

You forget you disintegrate granite, diamonds, splayed-blanket algae, flowers, seeds, poisonous shoots,
But are not cemented around bipeds or fish anywhere,
But have not beckoned them who are ahead with sorry whims,
And send no one away not once even if you despise her.

In the bag a sluggishness and brazening,
In the bag a lava flow welcomes its new cool alongside your retreat,
In the bag a saber-tooth approaches with another's forged sinew,
In the bag subjects waver only paces away but reject the singular void,
In the bag a shore leaping off cliffs or a tiny angel flying high,
In the bag a dove carries himself across an ocean,
In the bag a lion lurches around the stalks and stumps,
In the bag a bison strays from the exposed thickets on the plains,
In the bag a shovel-tailed cod swims a short ways south to Ocracoke,
You lead slowly, you descend to a den past the mouth of a cave.

Intuition:  Nancy Opposes Lisa

I trust the clean of sky is less than the symphonic give in the stars.
And the tree jumper is favored, perfected with a tumbler of caverns with a seedpod from a sweet pea,
And the mineral princess is calligraphy for hoi polloi,
And the standing parasol will sanitize every kitchen in heaven,
And a skinny stitch across my source adds the barbs to every beauty,
And a carriage swallowing the front seat lifts long to a still life,
And the teacher’s pet is so small a boon that she often sidesteps every doubter.

I remember I incorporate mica, coal dust, wrinkled-hankie dendrites, fauna, saplings, delectable roots,
And am yet scotch-taped inside ungulates and birds everywhere,
And have dismissed all that fall-behind with arrogant vim,
Or receive everyone close all at once never matter that you adore him.

On the lam a frothiness and recoiling,
On the lam an eruption dismisses its aging hot in the midst of my advance,
On the lam the de-clawed departs with no more than raw artery,
On the lam objects settle always light years near and embrace the multiple possibles,
On the lam a skyline settling on meadow and a king-sized devil digging low,
On the lam a hawk tosses herself into a teacup,
On the lam a lamb nestles between the corn tassels and trunks,
On the lam a bushtit returns to the sheltered tangle of the forest,
On the lam a rake-headed Medusa waltzes the long route north to Natchitoches,
I follow hasty, I ascend to the temple. Nearby, a hush in the nave.


Nancy Flynn hails from the coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania and now lives in Portland, Oregon. She attended Oberlin College and Cornell University, and has an M.A. in Creative Writing from SUNY/Binghamton. Her writing received a James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Oregon Literary Fellowship. Her work has appeared in regional and national publications; her poetry chapbook, The Hours of Us, was published in 2007.  A short story, “Cut Off”—published in the VoiceCatcher 4 anthology of Portland women’s writing—has been nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize. Five years ago, she happily reclaimed from the realtor in Massachusetts who had it first.

Lisa McCool-Grime has been a featured reader at venues from North Carolina to California, from universities to bars to basements. She worked as a poet-in-residence in North Dakota, receiving a grant in 2008 to teach students ages 8 to 18. In December 2008, she graduated with an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles where her poetry was nominated twice for the AWP Intro Journal Award. Her poetry has appeared in Napalm Health Spa, Writer's Dojo, The Citron Review, Splinter Generation and is forthcoming in the North Dakota Quarterly.