The Crazy Dog Lady Ponders a Photograph from the Twenties [poem] by Renee Ashley

The crosshatched shadows of balustrades & stairs are a foregrounded snare she could fall into: Kertèsz Monmartre 1927—horizon line one simple concrete ledge & on the skyward side two bug-sized women One is just a head that is making its retreat The other’s striding towards the lens O where are they going with their small dark hats They make their ways in monochrome & when each returns at night alone O who runs to her insane with joy because she’s finally home?


Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This poem references the image found here.]

Image by Colleen Taugher via Flickr Creative Commons

Renée Ashley is the author of five volumes of poetry (Because I Am the Shore I Want to Be the Sea, Subito Book Prize, Subito Press, Univ. of Colorado—Boulder; Basic Heart,  X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, Texas Review Press; The Various Reasons of Light; The Revisionist’s Dream; Salt, Brittingham Prize in Poetry, Univ. of Wisconsin Press), two chapbooks (The Verbs of Desiring, New American Press Chapbook Prize, and The Museum of Lost Wings, Hill-Stead Museum Sunken Garden Poetry Competition) and a novel (Someplace Like This), as well as numerous essays and reviews. Her awards include a Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Kenyon Review Award for Literary Excellence, the Charles Angoff Award from The Literary Review, an American Literary Review Poetry Prize, The Robert Watson Literary Prize in Poetry from Greensboro Review, a Black Warrior Review Poetry Award, the Chelsea Poetry Award, The Open Voice Award in Poetry from the Writers Voice, West Side Y, NY, NY, and the Robert H. Winner Award and the Ruth Lake Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and has received fellowships in both poetry and prose from New Jersey State Council on the Arts as well as a fellowship in poetry from the National Endowment of the Arts. She has served as Assistant Poetry Coordinator for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and as Writer-in-Residence at Rockland Center for the Arts and Wichita State University. A portion of her poem “First Book of the Moon” is etched in marble in Penn Station Terminal in Manhattan, part of a permanent installation by Larry Kirkland. Read more at

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