by r. erica doyle
PROXY is an unrequited love story in prose poems, where the landscape of the beloved body becomes the windows of New York City, the deserts of North Africa, and the mangroves of the Caribbean. PROXY is a conversation with the calculus, plotting and space against the infinite capacities of desire .
With swagger and appetite, the poems in R. Erica Doyle’s proxy reveal the costs of masking one’s vulnerability. Like Arthur Rimbaud, Lucille Clifton, and Richard Siken, these poems suggest the struggle to be released from one’s own depths is life’s greatest adventure. Proxy asks us to perform scenarios of love and loss as if we had no other choice. Because it is difficult to resist Doyle’s crisp and cannylanguage, the sum effect of this exercise is wonder.
—Wendy S. Walters
“Cunt judgement” says R. Erica Doyle, and “the horse of your heart” and “ovaries like asteroids” and “cows bawl[ing] all night long for their masters”; a six-year-old girl reading her mother’s de Sade. We are privy to the cummings and goings of “a third generation beast in a first generation world of open legs,” her desire and fear and wet fumblings splayed out on the page like “a pigeon the color of dried blood.” I can’t stop quoting the text itself in my fervor to describe it because it paints itself so well with its own bodily fluids, this thrush book of a body and its pushings inside the blockades of survival. “The golden thread shines. It’s made of blood and hope”—all the blood, all the hope, and churned within it all the limbs and holes left behind, remembered.
R. Erica Doyle puts the focus back in fucking, the horse back into romance, the rendering back in sorrow, the heart back into the mind. Bold, desperate, intelligent, on and off the borderline of poetry, sex and the break of passion.
How can you
sit lie stand lean wade not fidget cross/un/cross your legs tight tight tight while releasing the pressure that is R. Erica Doyle’s proxy? To sting while being stung. To drink when famished. Eat Devour quickness. These words “[l]eave enough filth to make a difference.” Un/plant the seed. Strain to blossom break. I am exhausted. Returning for more. Unsatiated. This proxy “displace[s] the lust”. Yes, “wounds [are] getting deeper.”
—Metta Sáma, author of Nocturne Trio and South of Here
Proxy is a supple and startling exploration of desire as it moves from cool elegance into a devastating wreck. The beginning has a cold sparkle: each and every red dusted stone yields shining / flesh. Nature as rogue, and her impersonal wit.
This charmed me, & I read on with a sense of appetite as well as recognition, feeling gratified by materials that gave themselves so generously. But of course they are not ‘mine’, they withdraw seductively. Her gaze was a / solar wind, stripping… The horse of your heart.
In proxy damage carries a subtle sweetness, an undercurrent of wish. In this text refusal and desire aren’t opposites but part of an erotics of call and response: one inflames the other, and around it goes.
After seven years, the slant of her eyes tilts your / beautiful, wavering house, complete with wife and dog, into the / chasm behind the curtain.
Of course one wants to fall, one does, and that is a lesson but not a moral one. You are unceremonious. / You disabuse.
Perhaps desire’s arc ends in dust…. that is not the point. We want to travel the wide road. It is one journey, undertaken by the multitude. Life has only this to offer: itself and death.
r. erica doyle was born in Brooklyn to Trinidadian immigrant parents, and has lived in Washington, DC, Farmington, Connecticut and La Marsa, Tunisia. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry, Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Gay and Lesbian Writing from the Antilles, Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writing, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade and Voices Rising: Celebrating 20 Years of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Writing. Her poetry and fiction appear in various journals, including Ploughshares, Callaloo, Bloom, From the Fishouse, Blithe House Quarterly and Sinister Wisdom.
Her articles and reviews have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Black Issues Book Review and on the Best American Poetry and Futurepoem blogs. She has received grants and awards from the Hurston/Wright Foundation, the Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Humanities Council of DC and Poets and Writers, and she was a New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow. Erica is also a fellow of Cave Canem: A Workshop and Retreat for Black Writers.
In addition, she has read her work at the Kennedy Center, the National Black Arts Festival, Joe’s Pub, the Nuyorican, the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, WI and various colleges and universities. Erica received her MFA in Poetry from The New School, and lives in New York City, where she is an administrator in the NYC public schools and facilitates Tongues Afire: A Free Creative Writing Workshop for queer women and trans and gender non-conforming people of color.