Geography of My Bones comprises Olivia Diamond's collected poems over more than three decades. Divided into six sections: Origins, Midwest, West and Beyond, Middle East and Elsewhere, East of Eden and Innerscape; her poetry like her life begins in the very center of America and makes its way into a much larger world. She has the range to bind her words in classical poetic form and proves herself a master.

The geography of her poetry extends from the domestic to the deeply spiritual. She writes with a gently humorous appreciation of the vagaries of day to day life, from holding hands in a movie theater to an imagined conversation between Marilyn Monroe and Dame Edith Sitwell to roasting coffee in Saudi Arabia.

Her poetical journey covers growing up in Americaís heartland to the Middle East. She expresses her experiences in a variety of styles to suit her vision. The inner and outer scenery she explores in her poems evoke both laughter and pain; while her pungent, yet tasty appraisal of humanity summon all five senses to participate in the celebration.

This volume of 335 pages has a laminated cover with six gray scale illustrations by artist Vin Librassi, published by Helm Publishing, Rockford, IL.

 

Sample these two poems from the collection:

Walking West

Walking the steel rail I place
one foot forward like an aerialist.
the rail gleams; I flail my arms,
wobble and sway, slap hands to hips.
Erect again I control the line.
Sun glitters in my eye, I teeter
and fall toward the wooden ties.
Iím a sham, a fallen rag doll,
boneless, with nylons in my head.
Ground-tied, Iíve not conquered air
or space about meógravity-prone.
Failing the rails Iíll walk ties
and promise not to touch gravel.
I study perspective down the line
as rails meet trees at bend point.
Walking the line, perspective
I learn is the only point worth
studying in art or life these days
where there is so little aligned;
to be a bit askew the real thing.
The ballad of the railroadís dead;
old railroaders have jumped track,
Caseyís gone around his last bend,
John Henryís done hammered his last,
no oneís in the kitchen with Dinah.
Iím strumming lines on perspective,
but John Henry hammering spikes had
perspective like Iíve never had it
striding a steel rail in mid-May
in the middle of the Illinois Central.
Life is a balancing act after all
Iíve failed more than once before.
Iíve never had muscle nor poise
to tie tracks together parallel.
Walking west this May afternoon
the sun of thirty-eight Springs
in my eyes, I lose perspective
along this splintered roadbed
where no lone whistle blows.

 

For the Courageous Wives of Riyadh

Summarily chauffeurs dismissed
ladies in black gauze veils
slid behind wheels, angled
onto busy Riyadh streets
a motorcade of forty wives.
Ali Babas may call them thieves
they only reclaim stolen rights
driven to drive not a joy ride
but a strike too for husbands
afraid to be more than nabobs
who drive mothers, sisters
aunts, daughters everywhere
when they could be napping
sipping cardamom coffee
in shade of the date palm
maybe even building schools
performing brain surgery
while forty wives shopped.