Born in Minneapolis, Dobby Gibson is the author of three collections of poetry: Polar, Skirmish, and now It Becomes You. Graywolf Press writes this of his work:
Meditative, lyrical, aphoristic, and always served with wry wit, the poems in Dobby Gibson’s It Becomes You explore the divergent conditions by which we’re perpetually defined–the daily weather, the fluctuations of the Dow, the growth of a cancer cell, the politics of the day. What surrounds us becomes us, Gibson suggests, in a book that will ultimately become you.
Gibson will be celebrating the publication of his third collection tonight at Open Book in Minneapolis at 7pm. Here’s a sampling:
On the 21 bus this morning,
I noticed the Natural Braid & Beauty Supply
store on Lake Street
had a handmade sign in its front window
advertising Front Lace Wigs and Fittings by Relyndis.
I love Relyndis for daring to believe
that beauty can be supplied,
for believing in everything the used car dealers
farther down Lake have given up on,
beginning with the silver balloons and streamers
that disappeared once the economy went south.
Above the beauty supply store
there’s a billboard for the Washburn-McCreary Funeral Home
advertising Quality and Value Cremation Services,
three white and white-haired men
in matching gold ties as shiny as the handles
of the three caskets I’ve lifted in my life.
There’s Hymie’s Records, where I found the Buck Owens LP
I’m unashamed to admit
I love listening to over and over
at least partly because it smells of an oddly comforting
mildew from a stranger’s basement.
I was born on this street, about a mile from here,
and can still take it almost all the way to the house
where my parents live,
just beyond Minnehaha Creek,
my beautiful dad in his beautiful basement
listening to the TV at a volume that would scare a soldier.
On Lake Street, there’s the station
where I catch the downtown train
to use these words I love so much
for purposes I occasionally don’t.
I never thought I’d live here.
The other day, when I drove Tony down Lake Street
and pointed to the hospital where I was born,
he said, “Your life is one of shocking continuity,”
and I wondered whether I was being given
a compliment or a warning.
I wonder if it was 24 degrees
on the day I was born, as it is today,
and if the light sank like it is now,
the traffic vanishing after dinner.
I wonder if, in another 40 years,
my wife and I, and my daughter, and Relyndis,
and a half million other people like us
will still flush our toilets
into the river one last time before bed
as a new set of old used cars sleeps unsold on Lake Street,
and whether there will be another version
of the man with a limp
to shuffle out after the snow falls
to gently brush them off.
– Dobby Gibson. “Beauty Supply,” from It Becomes You.
Copyright © 2013 by Dobby Gibson.
Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
10:56AM Update: Colin Kloecker at Works Progress sent me this recent video profile of Dobby Gibson, which includes him reading ‘Beauty Supply’ while riding the 21A. Enjoy!