Count the Waves: Poems

Count the Waves: Poems

by Sandra Beasley


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“Beasley uses humor and surprise like a scythe, cutting to the root of a matter.”—Washington Post

In Count the Waves, Sandra Beasley turns her eclectic imagination to the heart's pursuits. A man and a woman sit at the same dinner table, an ocean of worry separating them. An iceberg sets out to dance. A sword swallower ponders his dating prospects. "The vessel is simple, a rowboat among yachts," the poet observes in "Ukulele." "No one hides a Tommy gun in its case. / No bluesman runs over his uke in a whiskey rage."

Beasley's voice is pithy and playful, with a ferocious intelligence that invites comparison to both Sylvia Plath and Dorothy Parker. In one of six signature sestinas, she warns, "You must not use a house to build a home, / and never look for poetry in poems." The collection’s centerpiece is a haunting sequence that engages The Traveler's Vade Mecum, an 1853 compendium of phrases for use by mail, telegraph, or the enigmatic “Instantaneous Letter Writer."

Assembled over ten years and thousands of miles, these poems illuminate how intimacy is lost and gained during our travels. Decisive, funny, and as compassionate as she is merciless, Beasley is a reckoning force on the page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393353211
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 12/13/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 96
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Sandra Beasley is the author of three previous poetry collections—including I Was the Jukebox, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize—and one memoir. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, she lives in Washington, DC.

Table of Contents

Inner Flamingo 17

"The Exhibition Was Very Beautiful" 23

"Nothing but Cash Will Answer" 24

"In an Official Capacity" 25

"Please Come in the Boat of To-Day" 27

The Emperor's Valentine 28

The Wake 30

Fidelity (II) 34

"How Long Ago Was It?" 35

"I Wish You to Adopt Pacific Measures" 36

"It Is No Secret Here" 37

King 38

Economy 41

Parable 42

Fidelity (I) 44

"In a State of Intoxication" 45

Halloween 49

"I Have Not Decided" 51

"The Strictest Order Must Be Preserved" 52

"Vegetation Grows Rapidly" 53

Entries from The Lover's Field Guide 54

The Editor of Encyclopaedia Britannica Regrets Everything 59

One-Tenth of the Body 61

"The Offer Will Not Be Repeated" 63

"Do Not Expose Yourself to the Air" 64

"In the Latest Fashion" 65

"Cotton Is Rising" 66

"Your Daughter Has Not Left" 67

Valentine for the Grave Digger 68

American Caution 70

Grief Puppet 72

"The Calamity Is Not Serious" 75

"Mills Have Stopped for Want of Water" 77

"Flour Is Firm" 78

The Psychology Lesson 79

Ukulele 81

Let Me Count the Waves 82

Instantaneous Letter Writer 84

"The People Begin to Understand" 85

"The Banks Have Begun to Contract" 86

The Sword Swallower's Valentine 87

The Circus 89

"The Country Is Quite Mountainous" 93

"I Have Decided" 94

"What Is the Wholesale Price of The Traveler's Vade Mecum? 95

Inventory 96

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