Danielle Blau

November 26, 2017 Blau Danielle



We never expected this. Shapes
in our shapeless garden. The crude

mound we’ve been growing, Dirt,
is gone. One of the shapes points

to itself, “Willem,” or no,
“Phyllis,” it’s hard to understand.

“That thing,” you say, “I think that
thing’s Dirt mixed with far whispers.”

Low chants from the rubbish shed.
In every direction obscenely

figs sprout. “I’m going in,” you yawn,
and of course Pop’s too busy with

his slime-mold farm to come out
and see. Meanwhile, terrible groans

are general. Terrible wailing and
gnashing and multiplying.

You stroll by, “Dirt’s back,” snap
your chewing gum like a yo-yo, “well,

I mean, not him exactly but a slew
of Baby Dirts.” I turn. The shape

called Willem is there and, behind it,
our garden, a plot of suckling mounds.

On my cheek I can
feel the shape’s spiny breath.

Gravel tears in its eyes  —
my eyes, it’s then I notice.

Danielle Blau’s debut full-length poetry collection peep was selected by Vijay Seshadri for the 2021 Anthony Hecht Prize and was published in April of 2022 in both the US and the UK by the Waywiser Press. Her nonfiction book Rhyme or Reason: Poets and Philosophers on the Problem of Being Here Now is forthcoming from W.W. Norton.

Blau’s mere eye was selected for a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Award and published with an introduction by D.A. Powell, and her poems won first place in the multi-genre Narrative 30 Below Contest. Poetry, short stories, articles, and interviews by Blau appear in The Atlantic, Australian Book Review, The Baffler, The Literary Review, Narrative, The New Yorker’s book blog, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The Saint Ann’s Review, several volumes of the Plume Anthology of Poetry, and elsewhere.

Her work has been set to music by composers of various stripes and performed in such venues as Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Carnegie Hall. A graduate of Brown University with an honors degree in philosophy, and of New York University with an MFA in poetry, she curates and hosts the monthly Gavagai Music + Reading Series in Brooklyn, teaches at Hunter College in Manhattan, and lives with her son Kai in Queens.