Book of Poetry: "Identity Theory: New and Selected Poems, 1980-2010"

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Blue Light Press,
ISBN 9781421886428


Identity Theory:
New and Selected Poems, 1980-2010

In this collection, culled from 30 years, are desire, illness, loss, grandchildren, whimsy, grief, and always “the necessity of seeing.” Clear-eyed, precise, evocative, these poems confront the radiant promise of the world and the limits of each small life. A 16th century galleon, snails, grave sites, all serve as departure points for Wall’s prismatic explorations.

What reviewers say:

"Dorothy Wall consistently uses language as a tool to expose her own vulnerabilities and the frailties of the world. Her pen leaves nothing unturned, unexamined—joy and grief receive the same scrutiny and, as a result of that process, the source is rediscovered and offered to the reader as a small gift.”
~ Stewart Florsheim, author of A Split Second of Light


"In Identity Theory, Dorothy Wall 'holds aside marble folds/exposing the white undersheen,/a monument to the art of/disrobing.' This collection moves from objective, almost statue-like representations of emotional realities to a world of passion and uncertainty wherein a dead mother begins 'talking almost every day.' These clean, well- wrought poems bring alive the personal struggles of a master poet."
~ Charles Entrekin, author of Listening: New & Selected Work


"This is the poet who will ground you inside terrain where you can walk around in wonder, yet lift you to heights that give a view of the world that is transformative. This poet has mastered her craft with an attention so meticulous and so fine-tuned, so sensitive and sensory that it has resulted in this body of work, one that deserves to be read over and over.”
~ Andrena Zawinski, author of Something About,
PEN-Oakland Award recipient

From Identity Theory:


The Unhealed 

“Wanting to look again.
Into the patient face of the unhealed.”
~ Eavan Boland

As if injury could rest.
As if those mending—who isn’t—

aren’t rattling with repair.
Homeostatic imperative.

Cellular scrambling. Wounds
are hothouses of activity

lavishly nursed, swelling
with anger, love, want

defying sleep.
The body that appears

settled in its losses—
old sweatshirt, honeyed tea

an evening’s news and rice—
incubates a molecular heat

shrill as the kettle
the visceral drive not to abide

injury’s disrepair.
Beneath a placid stretch

the insurrection of the flesh
as in a steamy room

injury wrestles on, devoted
to its own alarm.


Originally published in Cimarron Review, Issue 140, Summer 2002
Copyright © Dorothy Wall, 2002. All rights reserved.



I was reading when I heard the fisted slam
leapt to see the pigeon's reeling, back-pedaled flight
its intimate body oiled on glass

as if instead of giving itself
with instant blind might it had
posed for days while an artist's

fine-tipped brush lined each breast-feather
one by one in banks of overlapping
fringe, a hint of beak pressed to chest

suggestive and spare, that eye, white and
bare, a bony upswept wing.
Each morning sun illuminates the ghostly

moment its swooping, unplanned
path quickly changed. I'm left
to witness, aren't we all, what I choose—

the whacked, unsettled stare
bristled plume, brush-stroke wing, all there
until early rains.


Originally published in Natural Bridge, No. 10, Fall, 2003
Copyright © Dorothy Wall, 2003. All rights reserved.


Cleaning in Spanish

Because I ask
too many questions

and behind the refrigerator
would you mind.

How did I end up on this side
of payment

between the sink and the stove
her dark eyes close against the misunderstanding

she understands too well.
Sponges scour a takeover of mold

armies of bottles, astringent
air, our hazarded, ineffectual repair

lost as soon as we speak
the language that can’t be gleaned

from first greetings
lugging in her load, buckets and rags

equipment that will settle
how it is.

A transfer of grime, my floors cleaner
her rags darker

she carries them away.


Originally published in The Dos Passos Review, Spring 2011, Vol. 7, No. 2
Copyright © Dorothy Wall, 2011. All rights reserved.



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