Literature 6-2-2008

What Light: This Week’s Poem: LouAnn Shepard Muhm

Read this week's winning poem, "Joinery" by LouAnn Shepard Muhm, selected by Marian Haddad.



Will we
link fingers
into a box joint,
or choose the
dovetail, with its
smooth interlock?
Perhaps the half-blind dovetail,
mechanisms concealed,
or the salmontail
with all its implications.
Tongue and groove
can only last
so long,
and the rabbet and biscuit
are temporary joys.
Reality says
cope and stick,
and if the cabinet wobbles,


While I admire long and complex poems, I most often use tightly-compressed, single images in my own work. I strive for what I call “deceptive simplicity”: a clear image, clearly stated, but with other layers of meaning that eventually come to the surface. When my writing process is working best, I end up somewhere that surprises me.


LouAnn Shepard Muhm is a poet and teacher from Park Rapids, Minnesota. Her poems have appeared in Dust & Fire, The Talking Stick, North Coast Review, Alba, Red River Review, Eclectica, Poems Niederngasse, Creekwalker and CALYX, and she is a recipient of the 2006 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in Poetry. Her chapbook, Dear Immovable, was published in 2006 by Pudding House Press, and her full-length poetry collection Breaking the Glass was published in May 2008 by Loonfeather Press.