GIRL: A Review by Gary Worth Moody

GIRL: A Review

by Gary Worth Moody

Once, several years ago, on the mesa between Tetilla peak and the Santa Fe River gorge, I saw what I believe to this day was a wolf running. I believed at the time the creature was male. Now I am certain there was a girl inside. This new conclusion because I have finished reading (and studying) Veronica Golos’s wonder, entitled GIRL from 3:A Taos Press.

No other poet inhabits persona as completely as does Veronica. GIRL is a masterpiece of shifting linguistic space and time. The space of the narrative defies topology. Time becomes rhythm becomes JAZZ. The music morphs from species to species.The lyric becomes prayer, becomes rant, becomes, an evolutionary triptych. Every gender on the planet should go buy this book and read it, to each other, to their lovers, to their daughters, to their sons, to their parents, to their husbands, to their wives, to their priests, even to their shamans, There are truths inside. INSIDE EVERY WOLF IS A GIRL.

The personae who occupy (and escape) the universe between the covers of GIRL, are myriad: secular and sacred, mythological and enchained by historical and present reality. From the rouged-face oracle crone, to the child narrator, from the wanton virginal observer, to the mercy-made dancer, from the urban matriarchal survivor to the repeatedly assaulted child, made objectified body, yet imbued with salvation of self-knowledge, rendered tough as stone — each speaker demands that we occupy and confess the gender-brutal present which each of us, knowing or unknowing, inhabit.

Golos is an expert at the unsaid and the interruption, of the white space and unfilled field of lending voice to the voiceless. In her 2011 volume VOCABULARY OF SILENCE (Red Hen Press) elevates damage, (damage to epistle, damage (as in forgetting) to names) into a literary trope, namely silence. A similar device is used in the voices of ghosts in her 2015 ROOTWORK (3:A Taos Press). Here, in GIRL, this interruption or damage trope expresses itself again, in purposely incomplete narrative which compels a reader or listener to inhabit and fill the lacuna. We as readers are not always privy to the cause of the damage, yet we are driven to fill it, to inhabit it with our own lyric possibilities, and as such participate in the marvels that are these poems.

The music of the poems is of dream, of Greek chorus, of ceremony, of fable, of Coltrane, of human and inhuman, of cries from a broken vanishing earth, to warning cries of mother to daughter and back again. The phrased measures are of wild-things, flora and fauna. The notations that graph the page are intense as inflictions upon a daughter that Her mother inscribes      an open-eyed Braille      with her slap slapslap.

Ultimately, this is a book of sacrifice, of sacrifices past, and sacrifices yet to come. It is an exhortation to our humanity to find another way. The drama of the last two poems (ONLY, PERHAPS and TURTLE) holds the promise of remedy. In ONLY, PERHAPS, Golos poses the possibility:  Perhaps there is more. The poem then offers the possibility of humanity transcending even the gods, by naming, by filling the spaces-in-between which the gods inhabit with language. Or the possibility evoked in the poems last two stanzas: or, perhaps, as we lean into the summer’s lazy / heat, slow and easy on the hips, / the lemons bloom into coronets, /all of which is enough to turn us / toward another blue, half-opened door / to yet another outside, / to what remains / of what simply is, / like the eel rising out of the mud, / it and what it rises from, one. Then comes the splendid tragedy of the final poem, TURTLE, in which the poems protagonist, a child whose pet turtle has disappeared from his glass bowl, decides not to ask where the tiny pet has gone. The genius of this final image (and in the book entire) resides in the poet’s refusal to simply ask where has the innocent world gone, instead daring to show us the human and gender based catastrophe in which we live.

Previously published in TUPELO QUARTERLY.

Author of Occoquan (Red Mountain Press, 2015), shortlisted for the international Rubery Award in Poetry, and Hazards of Grace (Red Mountain Press, 2012), Gary Worth Moody has worked as a forest fire-fighter, a cowboy, a farrier, and construction jobs such as building a town for coal miners in Siberia. His poems have been published in numerous periodicals and anthologies. A graduate of St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Gary attended the George Mason University’s MFA program. Gary lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with the artist and writer, Oriana Rodman; a cinnamon Dachshund; a grulla hound of indeterminate breeding; an empty muse scheduled to be filled in the autumn of 2019 with his fourth hawk; and the memories of Gus, the black-tongued dog, Tick, and Coco.

Join the May 29th Writing for Peace Friday Live Reading with Veronica Golos

On Friday, May 29th, at 8pm EDT, Veronica Golos will read from her latest book of poems, Girl, published by 3: A Taos Press. We hope you’ll invite all your friends and join us on Zoom to ask your questions and hear Veronica Golos read her work. You can purchase her book by contacting her at

Connect to Veronica Golos Reading Here

Meeting I.D. 827-5887-0958 Password: 690434

You can purchase her book by contacting her at


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