by Nancy Takacs
Pages 103/54 poems
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Publisher: Blue Begonia Press
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Compared with the gorgeous, sensual worlds inhabited by Takacs' speakers, the disorient-
ing loveliness of Utah's landscape seems almost as plain as the word "desert" to easterners'
ears. Through these formally varied, affectionate, and attentive lyrics, however, Blue
Patina gently charts the overlapping territories of self, memory, and appetite its wise,
flawed, intensely alert speakers inhabit every day, wherever they physically live in the
present. Takacs' work doesn't idealize, but writes with "farmhouse aura inside skyscraper."
This imaginative attitude encourages readers to recognize both "the flourishing" and "the
deadweight" of daily life and the vitality of a busy, private mind: the everyday drama of
the wicked neighborhood cat, the irresistible erotics of flannel, and the unexpected deviance
of lavender, garlic, and lime. Takacs' poems show us what it is to be in love with places,
with any place, but also to have the courage and wits to keep moving.
Blue Patina. Nancy Takacs is in the shade of high desert canyon walls. She's quiet, steady,
clear. She's resting her hand on her hip, running her eyes over rock darkened by sun and.
dew and time. She's looking for and finding those telling scratches in the indigo, the
petroglyphs, the earlier times and beyond. Her own times, all there in the present. Record-
ed. The Jersey girl, her family, her friends, the neighborhood, the school and the church,
the boys, the streets. The way out. All the way to this Utah map. The people, their meeting
places, their times alone. The high desert. The life away, the waters of Superior, the forest,
its creatures, the flowers and plants, the garden inside the fence line between the bear and
the cabin door. Recorded. Clear scratches in the blue patina of the high desert. The desert
varnish. Still, persisting. Hard earned, hard edged, carefully etched. She's forward looking.
There's more up canyon.
Besides being one of the best kept secrets in Rocky Mountain literature, Nancy Takacs is
genuinely one of the most generous and very most talented poets I have ever read. When
she finds her way into an image, a drift of figurative language, or a crackling story, she
bulldoggedly gets her teeth into it, never lets go until it thunders, and shakes it until it
gives up all its secrets, calls out calf rope, and says I give. She's just flat that good. And
yes, as a matter of fact, yes, I would take this book with me to the deserted island for my
end of life hermitage. For more information on that topic as well as my opinion on whether
you should read this book, please consult the closing sentence of James Joyce's ULYSSES.
About the Author:
Nancy Takacs is the author of three chapbooks, Pale Blue Wings, Juniper, and Wild Animals, and
a full-length book, Preserves. She is a former creative writing professor and wilderness studies
instructor at the College of Eastern Utah in Price, and has, for the past decade, worked with
inmates, seniors, and children, for the Utah Arts Council's Artists in Education program. A
recipient of the 2013 Sherwin W. Howard Poetry Award from Weber: a Journal of the Contem-
porary West, the WFOP Kay Saunders New Poet Prize, several writing awards from the Utah
Arts Council,and the Nation/Discovery Award, she holds an MFA from the University of Iowa.
Originally from Bayonne, New Jersey, she lives in Wellington, Utah, and in Bayfield, Wisconsin,
near Lake Superior, with her husband and two dogs.
From the Book:
by Nancy Takacs
I fear parking lots, malls,
and the sprawl of furniture stores
I fear lonely roads, rest stops.
A family sits down now
to a supper of tangy lettuce
and organic beans.
Beth tells us to be good
to our feet.
She asks us to tug on
each toe, make a fist
to knead our arches.
I think how once
I caught Delicate Arch
throwing its arm around
the Rabbit Moon.
I like it when the moments
fall gently into one another,
end up on some island
with no human footprints
and many bear.
I want to know the tall grasses
swaying with punk-like tops
that sprout small
and the short grasses
that erupt into feathers.
I'm back at the lemonade stand
where a boy showed me
his clay figurines of a fruit bat
and a sloth.
Today I feared the quilt ‐
the black one inlaid made
by a great-great grandmother,
with her postage stamps
of red taffeta
and cotton garlands ‐
will flutter into nothing.
I watched my cat stalk the lizard,
fed my dog her favorite: lima beans.
Alice Miller says over and over
how shame kills. I fear how
the spirit might never revive
when cruel words as well
as hands crease it
I don't fear
the long portage
or the sticky mouths of ticks,
but how the earth
is losing itself, the spin
of it beyond those
who are chopping wood,
putting up clothes lines,
riding their bicycles
uphill to town.
Beth says we're done
with our shoulders
and our arms.
Now we must try to do
hand stands, head stands
so the blood will come to
Previously published: Sugar House Review