09 April 2008

in honor of iva

my friend told me today that julie moulds, a brilliant poet and wonderful teacher who has battled cancer for a long while, passed away yesterday.

i didn't know julie all that well -- she and her husband john rybicki came to visit one of jack ridl's poetry classes when i was in college. and john, of course, fired up the room like a lightning strike -- he's out of his chair, he's up, he's down, he's gesticulating wildly about the BRILLIANCE of METAPHOR. . . and julie remained, quite calmly, in her chair, saying the smartest, most thoughtful, kindest things to us, about us, about poems. she's a stunning human being -- so gracious, so sharp, so very dear.

and her poems are stunning -- and some of them absolutely wild. i remember jack talking about one of her first breakthroughs as a poet -- that she adopted this great persona, named her "iva," and then could go absolutely anywhere and do absolutely anything in a poem. "iva" was a saving grace, a rebellious soul, an alter ego, a surprising tell-it-like-you-see-it gutsy persona. iva and julie both do what emily dickinson says poetry should do: make you feel like the top of your head has blown off.

and mine exploded this way: just reading these iva poems, after briefly meeting julie (not nearly a long enough visit -- but they never are, are they?), was a revelation for me. she taught me a lot through just a few poems -- that i, too, (who was, once upon a time, quiet and shy to the point of panic and muteness and disappearing, if you can believe it) could take on outrageous and daring acts in my poems, that i didn't have to tell the bland "truth" (by which i mean "facts"), that sometimes wonderful outrageous lies lead to wonderful, stunning, truthful revelations. that there are more true selves than just one, than the one most of the world sees. that there are complexities in every action -- iva is never just one thing, one emotion, one person. for example, at the end of the third iva poem i'll post below, the similes imply that being in love for iva is both a glorious and a helpless thing, an empowering and a powerless thing. a goddess, and a bowling pin -- one of the most powerful deities, and one of the clumsiest, stumbliest objects around, one whose entire purpose is to be knocked over again and again.

and so, i think, julie taught me that truth -- that the self is always in motion, shape-shifting, and so are the self's poems and personas, which was enormously liberating for me. and her poems continue, and we're all, i'm certain, carrying john in our thoughts and hearts and prayers, and we're carrying julie on in our hearts and our work, too. even though i only met her once, julie had a profound impact on me -- and meeting her just once meant a lot for not only my work, but also for me as a person trying to grow into someone as gracious and smart as she was.

Three Iva Poems

~ Julie Moulds

1. Iva Drunk with Steel-toed Boots on

didn't have to borrow
her uncle's Harley.
She had her own -- deep red
as a whore's lipstick.
She roared to the bar,
black chaps over Levi's.
Eagle wings patched
her scrawny behind.
A leather laced halter
fringed her belly,
exposing a small rose tattoo.
Iva hadn't drunk enough
to pose for Easyriders; she
would surely try.

2. The Fish Poem

Iva looked at the clear fishline, the canned
beer on ice. You'll like this, he said.
There's peace in this warm sun.
I'll teach you to cast and reel. . . Iva wanted
to be on the water. To be the pheasant
feather fly a brook trout would die for.
To wiggle into that pink mouth,
and whisper, wicked, It is too late.
You should not have swallowed,
while the line pulls his gills into air.

3. Wedding Iva

Stars shot gold
over evening mass --
she planned the wedding
so the sky gave blessing;
married a man
no one had seen.
(His face appeared
when I do's began,
rose as the stone
in her ring.)

In their wedding room
she read
from Modern Dimensions
of Heroic Life.
He licked her ribs
still she softened.
She nibbled his neck
like a mushroom stem.
When he held her
she became
white and armless
like a goddess
or a bowling pin.

(published in The Woman with a Cubed Head by Julie Moulds. Kalamazoo: New Issues Poetry Press, 1998).


Talia said...

Good stuff, that is.

Charmi said...


Psychoflowers said...

Just wanted to say that I love the picture of the alien guys, from Sesame Street are the greatest! yup yup yup!