Stay, Illusion

Stay, Illusion

by Lucie Brock-Broido


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National Book Award Finalist

Stay, Illusion, the much-anticipated volume of poems by Lucie Brock-Broido, illuminates the broken but beautiful world she inhabits. Her poems are lit with magic and stark with truth: whether they speak from the imagined dwelling of her “Abandonarium,” or from habitats where animals are farmed and harmed “humanely,” or even from the surreal confines of death row, they find a voice like no other—dazzling, intimate, startling, heartbreaking.

Eddying between the theater of the lavish and the enigmatic, between the gaudy and the unadorned, Brock-Broido’s verse scours America for material to render unflinchingly the here and now. Grandeur devolves into a comic irony: “We have come to terms with our Self / Like a marmoset getting out of her Great Ape suit.” She dares the unexplained: “The wings were left ajar / At the altar where I’ve knelt all night, trembling, leaning, rough / As sugar raw, and sweet.” Each poem is a rebellious chain of words: “Be good, they said, and so too I was / Good until I was not.” Strange narratives, interior and exterior, make a world that is foreign and yet our own; like Dickinson, Brock-Broido constructs a spider-sibling, commanding the “silk spool of the recluse as she confects her eventual mythomania.” And why create the web? Because: “If it is written down, you can’t rescind it.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307962027
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/15/2013
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

LUCIE BROCK-BROIDO is the author of three previous collections of poetry, A HungerThe Master Letters, and Trouble in Mind. She is Director of Poetry in the School of the Arts at Columbia University and has been the recipient of awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in New York City and in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt

You Have Harnessed Yourself Ridiculously To This World
Tell the truth I told me                       When I couldn’t speak.
Sorrow’s a barbaric art, crude as a Viking ship            Or a child Who rode a spotted pony to the lake away from summer In the 1930s                                    Toward the iron lung of polio.
According to the census I am unmarried                                    And unchurched.
The woman in the field dressed only in the sun.
Too far gone to halt the Arctic Cap’s catastrophe, big beautiful Blubbery white bears each clinging to his one last hunk of ice.
I am obliged, now, to refrain from dying, for as long as it is possible.
For whom left am I first?
We have come to terms with our Self Like a marmoset getting out of her Great Ape suit.
Dove, Interrupted 
Don’t do that when you’re dead like this, I said,
Arguably still squabbling about the word inarguably.
I haunt Versailles, poring through the markets of the medieval.
Mostly meat to be sold there. Mutton hangs Like laundry pinkened on its line.
And gold! —a chalice with a cure for living in it.
We step over the skirt of an Elizabeth.
Red grapes, a delicacy, each peeled for us—each sheath 
The vestment of a miniature priest, disrobed.
A sister is an Old World sparrow placed in a satin shoe.
The weakling’s saddle is worn down from just too much sad attitude.
No one wants to face the “opaque reality” of herself.
For the life of me.
I was made American. You must consider this.
Whatever suffering is insufferable is punishable by perishable.
In Vienne, the rabbit Maurice is at home in the family cage.
I ache for him, his boredom and his solitude.
On suffering and animals, inarguably, they do.
I miss your heart, my heart.

For A Snow Leopard in October

Stay, little ounce, here in 
Fleece and leaf with me, in the evermore Where swans trembled in the lake around our bed of hay and morning Came each morning like a felt cloak billowing Across the most pale day. It was the color of a steeple disappearing In an old Venetian sky. Or of a saint tamping the grenadine Of his heavy robes before the Blessing of the Animals.
I’ve heard tell of men who brought Great Pyrenees, a borzoi, or Some pocket mice, baskets of mourning doves beneath their wicker lids,
A chameleon on a leash from the Prussian circuses,
And from the farthest Caucasus, some tundra wolves in pairs.
In a meadow I had fallen As deep in sleep as a trilobite in the red clay of the centuries.
Even now, just down our winding road, I can hear the children blanketing Themselves to sleep in leaves from maple trees.
No bad dreams will come to them I know Because once, in the gone-ago, I was a lynx as well, safe as a tiger-iris In its silt on the banks of the Euphrates,  as you were. Would they take You now from me, like Leonardo’s sleeve disappearing in The air. And when I woke I could not wake You, little sphinx, I could not keep you here with me. Anywhere, I could not bear to let you go. Stay here In our clouded bed of wind and timothy with me.
Lie here with me in snow.


Excerpted from "Stay, Illusion"
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Copyright © 2015 Lucie Brock-Broido.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
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