Last time CR Editorial Assistant Sara Watson wrote a blogpost for us, we highlighted her biography, which mirrored—to a remarkable degree—that of a certain Hollywood actor. Since then, we’ve learned that she also writes a mean ekphrastic poem, runs half-marathons, and loves her wiener-dog mix, whom she sometimes dresses in tuxedos. We don’t hold this against her, since many of us also press costumes on our pets. Nicola Mason’s guinea pig has been a fairy princess in her magical pint-sized village, Becky Adnot-Haynes’s dogs impersonated a shark and a dinosaur on Halloween, and Lisa Ampleman’s outdoor comet-tailed goldfish like to pretend they’re Nemo, swimming around in a conspicuously erratic pattern. They have injured-fin jealousy.
And we’re all jealous of Sara’s skills at concision. Why use five words when you can use one, after all? Sara put those talents to use when she wrote this appreciation of Heather June Gibbons’s poem “Moxie Returns,” from our upcoming Issue 9.2 (which you can order here):
Sara Watson: What draws me to Heather June Gibbons’s poem “Moxie Returns” is the bottomless pit of its speaker’s desperation. In other words, I like a self-deprecating joke—particularly when it’s more heartbreaking than it is humorous.
Nothing in this poem can accomplish even the simplest goal: Keys can’t unlock doors, knobs can’t open drawers, the motor isn’t worth the energy required to get it started, and nobody can stay awake while attempting vigilance. Still, Gibbons’s speaker keeps on, propelled by the unfulfilled but still-throbbing desires of the may-as-well-be-dead.
Is there hope in this poem? I’m not sure. Has moxie indeed returned? I don’t think so. But Gibbons’s self-destructive narrator redeems desperation itself, transforming it from what is pitiable into something we might honor: effort—that grasping, even only at straws.