To read Oquendo’s and Shier’s poems, scroll down. They can be found at the conclusion of the interview.
Grist: How did you collaborate on these poems in particular (exchanging lines via email, for example)?
NO: Most of the collaboration on the chapbook (Folie à Deux) took place over a distance, and the poems themselves were at least my way of dealing with that widening space. I guess they all took place over a distance, even the ones where we were in the same room, but most of the creation was separated by 1,120 miles.
MS: This one is interesting because we did it a lot of different ways? Like, I know when we started we were literally on the same couch. Or did we? I know a lot of the earliest ones we were. The first one is escaping me for some reason.
All the ones in the middle were done at a distance, as we had both moved to far places, that is for sure. But the poems reproduced in this journal were actually the final two in the project, composed when we were visiting with one another. That was fitting.
. we spoke once of a vision and in it there you rested light on a snow bed a stiff leaf
if i squeeze my eyes shut the burn coasts around their curves
i kneel down heavy and cup my hands around your face but it feels thin
and cracks while i grieve there orbited by tiny flecks of red and oh does your blood hover
. later i will squeeze your hand it will feel like the crumpling of a paper ball
your blood is gone your blood is all over suspended
i will lean back and wait there an open mouth for it to fall thick and red
to feel your warmth i saw this with certainty but there you are cold
. your blood is suspended in lines your blood is suspended in irregular rhythm
palm up to will you back together and any vibrations my fingers are broken
my fingers are not conduits your blood hovers there and i am frozen to you in parts
i kneel in snow while the sun glares but does not touch you
. years like this . i reach my hand over and snap off your ring finger at the base
where the bones once connected you dangle there now but also lie there
disambiguated there is no blood but the hovering one now and i grab at the flecks
ink now and your finger draws the runic alphabet. .
oh and how withhold a piece of your sewn-together
truth from vision; distinct in neither
where limbs derelict divorced drift from one
another somewhere on a continuum pinpointed
go play cartographer somewhere else
and find out how deep a finger
pushing you lifeless pushes
by expertise you think is there
through scratching or traipsing
a worthless saunter down a line someone else already traced for you
a picture you’ve already seen
fitting tiny feet into hopes left behind
Nicole Oquendo is a writer, educator, and editor interested in multimodal compositions and translations of nonfiction and poetry. She is a member of the Sundress Publications Board of Directors, an Assistant Editor for Flaming Giblet Press, the Managing Editor of The Florida Review, and the Nonfiction Editor of the annual Best of the Net Anthology. She is the author of the chapbooks some prophets (2015, Finishing Line Press) and self is wolf (2015, dancing girl press), and the hybrid memoir Telomeres (2015, Zoetic Press).
Mike Shier holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida Atlantic University and is currently in Illinois State University’s PhD program for the same. Other poems from Folie à Deux, a collaborative poetry chapbook manuscript written with Nicole Oquendo, have appeared in Menacing Hedge.