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About this poet

In 1952, Mary Ruefle was born outside of Pittsburgh to a father who served as a military officer. She spent her early life traveling throughout the U.S. and Europe. She graduated from Bennington College in 1974 with a degree in literature.

Mary Ruefle has published many books of poetry, including Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013); Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010); A Little White Shadow (2006), an art book of "erasures," a variation on found poetry; Tristimania (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 2003), Among the Musk Ox People (2002); Apparition Hill (2001); Cold Pluto (2001); Post Meridian (2000); Cold Pluto (1996); The Adamant (1989), winner of the 1988 Iowa Poetry Prize; Life Without Speaking (1987); and Memling's Veil (1982).

She is also the author of a book of prose, The Most of It (2008), and a comic book, Go Home and Go To Bed (Pilot Books/Orange Table Comics, 2007).

About Ruefle's poems, the poet Tony Hoagland has said, "Her work combines the spiritual desperation of Dickinson with the rhetorical virtuosity of Wallace Stevens. The result (for those with ears to hear) is a poetry at once ornate and intense; linguistically marvelous, yes, but also as visceral as anything you are likely to encounter."

Mary is the recipient of numerous honors, including an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Bennington, Vermont, and teaches in the MFA program at Vermont College.

The Daze

Mary Ruefle, 1952

It was one of those mornings the earth seemed
not to have had any rest at all, her face dour
and unrefreshed, no particular place-- subway,
park-- expressed sufficient interest in present circumstances
though flowers popped up and tokens
dropped down, deep in the turnstiles. And from
the dovecots nothing was released or killed.
No one seemed to mind, though everyone noticed.
If the alphabet died-- even the o collapsing, the l
a lance in its groin-- what of it? The question
'krispies, flakes or loops?'-- always an indicator of
attention-- took a turn for the worse, though crumpets
could still be successfully toasted: machines worked,
the idiom death warmed over was in use. By noon,
postage stamps were half their width and worth
but no one stopped licking. Neutrinos passed,
undetected. Corpulent clouds formed in the sky.
Tea was served at four. When the wind blew off a shingle
or two, like hairs, and the scalp of the house began
to howl, not a roofer nailed it down. That was that.
When the moon came out and glowed like a night light
loose in its socket, no one was captious, cautious or wise,
though the toes of a few behaved strangely in bed--
they peeped out of the blankets like insects' antennae,
then turned into periscopes scouting to see
if the daze that was morning had actually managed to doze.

From Post Meridian, published by Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2000. Copyright © 2000 by Mary Ruefle. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

From Post Meridian, published by Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2000. Copyright © 2000 by Mary Ruefle. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle

The poet Mary Ruefle is the author of many books of poetry, a book of prose, and a comic book.

by this poet

poem

Ann Galbraith
loves Barry Soyers.

Please pray for Lucius Fenn
who suffers greatly whilst shaking hands.

Bonny Polton
loves a pug named Cowl.

Please pray for Olina Korsk
who holds the record for missing fingers.

Leon Bendrix loves Odelia Jonson
poem

for James Schuyler

Pink dandruff of some tree
afloat on the swimming pool.
What’s that bird?
I’m not from around here.
My mail will probably be forwarded
as quietly as this pink fluff
or a question or morphine
or impatience or a mistake
or the infinite

poem

Beloved, men in thick green coats came crunching
through the snow, the insignia on their shoulders
of uncertain origin, a country I could not be sure of,
a salute so terrifying I heard myself lying to avoid
arrest, and was arrested along with Jocko, whose tear
had snapped off, a