ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | Triste by Lisa Marie Basile

Triste by Lisa Marie BasileTriste: Mourning Stories

by Lisa Marie Basile

Dancing Girl Press.

Jan. 7, 2013


Lisa Marie Basile writes a poetry of sensual, passionate dissolving and devious wit. It’s a poetry of bodies recombined into secret rituals and “homemade mythology.” Triste is a journey of lush textures and surprise. JOANNA FUHRMAN 

One day, there was an atomic bomb beneath my lawn in a shape vaguely like yours, and digging carefully, I realized to love something is to think you could explode.” In Lisa Marie Basile’s triste, the overwhelming urge of the body can rip it apart (“the winter wet peels my edges and my plaster starts to curl”) or transform it into landscape. Sometimes the speaker is present in the urge; at other times “presence” itself is fleeting and language fails (“me, forgetting my language…. It came out in all the wrong colors”) Victorian nightmares; loss of innocence; Kafka deposited into True Blood with a Grimes soundtrack. “You find in-grown wings within my chest cage. I want to use them so badly but don’t know how.’ Holy shit!” BRUCE COVEY




The overbite—how do I distinguish between the overbite and the summer itself? You are an endless season I’m swimming in, with yellow cotton bloomers stretching your mouth so to sit on the edge of your tongue, and have I told you, perched like a gargoyle or a dove beating out of a throat, that I want to watch your teeth slowly fall away?
I myself have lived the dream half-remembered. To have been waiting out the cold war in a room with white walls & a lesion on my tongue in the form of a man I would not fuck.
But before I knew you, somehow if I wished hard enough, I could grow and water you inside my head.


You appear.

How does a human sprout?
The tools and the seed, and the knowledge of the something
that feeds the Sisyphean task of waiting to see
if a boulder will stay in its place.  I am growing your weeds
in strange places all over my body—
my armpits, my finger beds
in the gray glow of a quiet room
where we argue until
our arguments became myth,
and here I am as Hera,
stone and stone cold,
and there you are as Zeus,
until I get tired of all the marble
and all the temples
and we just sleep
mouth open
mouths closed
teeth stacked up
like soldiers
who want to kiss
their opponents.  


One day, there was an atomic bomb beneath my lawn in a shape vaguely like yours, and digging carefully, I realized to love something is to think you could explode.


I have decided to join the human race today.
I have decided to give up the fear.
I have poured an endless glass and still I feel the thirst.
There are dreams in which I cannot be sated and I’m on my knees like a girl with her mouth open waiting—

for you, because you are perched like a moth at the window
or foreign like the blood of a mother who forgets she’s given birth,
in love with the green squirming thing in her hands.


You seem to be unaware of all the daggers.

               There’s me surrounded by daggers
perfectly still and uninjured
by an overbite
           even Dali would have liked,
painting you in some excess
and gilded glory,
your body a cape

lined in liquid gold,
a gratuitousness spilling into me.

I am left to beg you to
lift your hands onto me
—I am a natural and victorious whore—
with you on the tit, under the tit, or over the top, an archway,
like you’re holding up a cat by the nape of its neck

afraid and still
out of love

& cup your hands because I know you’ll need to
feel how human I really am.
It is all either fat
    or muscle
or something else.
The difference between the tangible and intangible
is the very same between having heart
         & just existing.
To me your mouth is a cannon,
               is a season, is the offing,
and to me, you are human-shaped
with a tail.  You curious
love of mine.


Lisa Marie Basile HeadshotLisa Marie Basile is a graduate of The New School’s MFA program for poetry. She is the author of Andalucia (Brothel Books) and Triste (Dancing Girl Press). Her work can be seen in Word Riot, PANK, kill author, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, elimae & Pear Noir! among other publications. She is the founding editor of Patasola Press and is a writer for thethepoetry. She is also an assistant editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal. She is a managing member of The Poetry Society of New York, which produces the Annual NYC Poetry Festival.


Lisa Marie Basile’s triste: mourning stories is at once timeless and fascinated with time. Shifting between prose and verse, Basile explores the impermanence of life. These persona poems are hot and unruly as fever dreams, enticing the reader with glimpses and glimmers. Burning flowers and clawfoot bathtubs. Buzzing powerlines and blue lemons. Reading this book feels like staring into a baroque Magic Eye. As the poems pile on, a narrative emerges: what does it mean to become human? “It is all either fat/ or muscle/ or something else” – something ineffable, like the trace of a lover’s touch remembered years later. Ghosts call out to each other and to us, compelling us to listen. LILY LADEWIG | The stories in triste are dark dreams, black lace ball gowns and jet mourning beads… a ravenous collection that breathes desire, longing, sensuality, a hankering for what was and what we are left with. Basile uses glowing language and stirring images, triste is a burning despair that assaults all senses. HELEN VITORIA


The Editors