The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Dawn Lonsinger’s “Whelm”


[Ruin Is a Thing That Happens in The Past]

rain spreads like a negligee over everything–

My longing is a forest, and your voice is all the birds
that live there, are hushed in the rain. Let me learn
the candor of falling, the open-endedness of roofs,
how to knot my fingers with earth and let go, how
to put down the unending letter. When I look out into
the porcelain night, see all the fissures widening–
beauty shattering in deep magenta alleyways, I long
for the moxy of the torrential. The old men in doorways
speak in a language we cannot know
of how to slice evenly down the belly of a fish.

The children keep darting out into the lightning,
tempting the gods to tackle them. The rain is making
a case–that baptism, that flush. That the stars will
never belly up. That luster is, of course, an antidote
to our eyes, and we are no more purgatorial than
the pools underneath it all, catching the seemingly endless
runoff, dirty as all get out. When it stops we go outside,
electrified with silvery dampness, and stare down into
the puddles. We see only the sanity of suggestion,
the torn sleeve of time, evidence that we are not
yet ghosts–all echo and ripple and swig.

This selection comes from Dawn Lonsinger’s book Whelm, available from Lost Horse Press. Purchase your copy here!

In addition to Whelm, Dawn Lonsinger is the author of two chapbooks: the linoleum crop (Jeanne Duval Editions; chosen by Thomas Lux as the winner of the 2007 Terminus Magazine Chapbook Contest), and The Nested Object (Dancing Girl Press). You can see the books and other things on her website: Her poems have recently appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Colorado Review, Subtropics, Crazyhorse, Guernica, Third Coast, Poetry East, and elsewhere.  Lyric essays are out in recent issues of Black Warrior Review and Western Humanities Review.  Dawn is the recipient of the Corson Bishop Prize, Smartish Pace’s Beullah Rose Prize, a Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets Fellowship, and a Fulbright Fellowship. More recently she won the Scowcroft Prize (chosen by Lidia Yuknavitch), an Academy of American Poets Prize (chosen by Heather McHugh), three Utah Arts Council Writing Awards, the Utah Writers’ Contest in prose (chosen by Susan Steinberg) and poetry (chosen by Wayne Koestenbaum), runner up for the Poetry Society of America’s Emily Dickinson Award (chosen by H.L. Hix), runner up for The Bat City Review Art & Writing Collaboration Prize (chosen by Tomaž Šalamun), and was awarded four Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes. She was also selected by Claudia Emerson for Best New Poets 2010. Dawn did her undergraduate studies at Bucknell University, majoring in English and photography.

Marika von Zellen has a BA in English and Creative Writing from Cornell College (no, not the one in Ithaca). She’s had poetry and fiction published in Open Field, Temporary Infinity, The Grin City Monthly, and the anthology Rock & Roll Saved My Soul. As an Editorial Assistant for Sundress, she’s copy-edited the book Picture Dictionary (2014); as a freelance editor she copy-edited the photography book Face It (2013). In the summer of 2012, she attended the Grin City Collective Artist Residency in Iowa. Besides writing, she enjoys theoretical physics, playing piano, ghost-hunting, climbing trees, and drinking good Czech beer. She’s also a scholar of Lewis Carroll.


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