January 4, 2016

Three Poems By Alison Moncrief Bromage: "In the Pen", "Alibi", "Datum"

Alison's poems have been published in the Paris Review, Denver Quarterly, Barrow Street and in Drunken Boat (which has just nominated her poem "Teratoma" for a Pushcart). The following three are appeals to Daedalus, the tinkerer from mythology.

Icarus and Daedalus By Frederic Leighton 1869

In the Pen
To hoof sheep to a hillside
is to breed them to know the boundaries of your land.
The bloodline in them senses the borders of place,
and somehow, for generations, flocks stay put.

I walk round circles in the circle
of a stone room which Daedalus built. Hatching
inventions on my heels, catching my shadow round a few times
and swallowing each loop as a tightening belt.           

The smell I’ve caught of myself, sheep like.

Daedalus, riddle me out of my body and into the fold.
Make me unctuous in lanoline with hair kinked as wool.
Shepherd me kindly by your crook, and give to me, will you,
some type of nimbus or circumscription,
a limit line for the want of these children.


I found, this morning, a splay of feathers,
nothing of more weight, off-white in the sallow field.
I had seen the bird once, cumbersome, roosted low in a tree
                              but never the monster who got it.

Daedalus pushed his nephew, Perdix, off a cliff and called it an accident.
       The small boy had shown a knack for inventing, too.
He made a saw of a snake's jaw, a compass from two bound rods.

There is always ever room for only one genius.

Do not be mistaken, there are many ways to outfox our living:
invent as you would an axe or a sail, another myth.
            Say the boy became a partridge.
That low flying bird who nests never far off the ground.
    Say whatever happened, we slept through it.


Among his many inventions Daedalus discovered isinglass,
the dried and crushed powder from the swim bladders of fish.
With water it is glue or pudding. The plumb line too came from this man
who kept spool and plummet in his pockets.

See how it is a weighted object and string, my want.

Builders place brass markers in the floor below spires to check the high then higher
plummet against a center.

I fashion fixed points, Daedalus, and bindings of jute scraps,

wax, and glue. But to drop exacting from the sky or into the deep is the work of gods.   

There is no measure for that buoyant line between child and god and me.
 ~Alison Moncrief Bromage

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