Slick Like Dark
by Meg Wade
Fueled by questions of faith and desire, and steeped in the Southern Gothic, Meg Wade’s Slick Like Dark is a haunting examination of the Southern body and one woman’s survival in it. These poems burn in their intensity. With a menacing wink they trace a hard line through trauma’s wreckage and ask God who is to blame. They take us to the dark corners of honky-tonks and spin us wide around the room. Through the lyric, Wade gives us a voice piercingly honest and desperate for what’s real.
Published: April 2020
Fueled by questions of faith and desire, and steeped in the Southern Gothic, Meg Wade’s Slick Like Dark is a haunting examination of the Southern body and one woman’s survival in it. These poems take us to the dark corners of honky-tonks and spin us wide around the room. With a menacing wink, they trace a hard line through trauma’s wreckage and demand to know where God belongs in all of this.
The whole messy thing
unraveled like a horse
belly, split open
and spilled. A wasp
nest, gristled angels,
it’s strange, how scared
I am—quick write
down, Ferris wheel.
Write down, ceiling
of bees. Carefully mark
the lover pulseless
in the middle of a very long,
high road we never see
the end of—my throat
falls right out of my body.
A moth’s wings before
the dust knocks off.
I Blame The Woods And Keep The Body
A body is dead and I want you to be responsible.
You’ve seen his hands.
You know what they were capable of—
My baby, old honey knuckles, building our imagined house.
This could be a place where I would love him like a woman
who wants to have babies would.
Our imagined babies might hold
each other’s tiny imagined
hands and go walking through
the very real woods together.
The woods are a dangerous place for an imagined thing
Have you been to hell?
An imagined house can be a kind of hell depending
on what the day is like—
depending on whether or not we are all still
I flooded the house.
There are no children.
I keep his body in the bathtub.
The smell is so terrible I hold my sleeve over my mouth.
I don’t want it to end this way.
Perhaps we could be sitting at a real table and I could
ask him to hand me a real can opener and this could be
the most exciting part of our day.
This way no one has to die.
This way, we’re just two people lying
down on opposite sides of the kitchen floor.
|Dimensions||5.83 × 0.25 × 8.27 in|
“There are many floods in Meg Wade’s Slick Like Dark, and these floods and floodings are both disasters to survive and the means of survival, the outpouring of overpowering emotions such as love and the dark space between love and vengeance, sex and killing. Wade writes, ‘If something is beautiful // it’s fighting.’ Her work has a way of setting up multiple scenes, reading sometimes like a religious service or a trial where the accused is in the shadows. Sexual and whodunit actions become highlights of a dusky narrative that maintains mystery and darkness throughout its unfolding and telling. As a collection, Slick Like Dark doesn’t really ask who is slick because everyone is suspect including the tortured self. Survival is attributed to struggle, how one overcomes abuse while celebrating sexuality or balancing a religious upbringing. With a biblical and cinematic lyric, Meg Wade spills out a redemptive space that encompasses a new thick freedom.”
“In Meg Wade’s Slick Like Dark we learn what we make to take a body back, and all of the questions I am asking myself now are part of that reclamation—is desire a miracle? Does god belong in a body? These poems are astonishing. They have pleasure and a rage that burns clean, images that startle and spark, lines that turn and contain. I could warm myself by the heat in these pages.”
“We can’t comprehend shadows cast on us by others’ actions without first confronting our own darknesses, our craving for light. An alchemy of figurative language gives us deer ‘hooves slick like dark / orchids’: in the title phrase, death yields new life. But life can be fickle and confrontational, a voice both demanding love and pushing love away. Come to these pages to understand the litany of ‘all the things I can carry: / a mirror, a matchbook, my own // muddy voice howling bleached acoustics.’ Hunker down and holler. ‘Toss rocks at the fried chicken sign to knock the neon out’—a phrase taken from the musical, compelling poem ‘Arrested Empire.’ In this stunning chapbook, Meg Wade explores the complications of what it means to survive.”
—Sandra Beasley, author of Count the Waves
“Subtle and provocative, the poems in Slick Like Dark are motivated by history’s forgetfulness. As the book unfolds, we are asked to consider this silence as both power and disempowerment, as calculated withholding and a slow ‘surrender.’ Here, Wade offers us– with intelligence, grace, and incredible skill– an excavation of all that has been buried ‘in broad daylight,’ a ‘record’ pulled from the ‘thicket’s fire.’ Yet these poems are most beautiful in their restlessness, in their movement between ‘light’ and a ‘violent fanfare,’ and in their willingness to inhabit the most liminal and uncertain ethical territories. This is a brave and powerful book.”
—Kristina Marie Darling, Snowbound Award judge