“The fossil virgin of the skies . . .” (Mina Loy)

I wonder if others remember their first encounter with the poetry of Mina Loy (1882-1966). I first heard her name in Baton Rouge in 1990 as I was hanging out with friends who urged me to look up her work, suspecting that I’d find in her a kindred poet.

I bought a copy of The Last Lunar Baedeker (a posthumous collection), and from the moment I read the opening lines of the title poem – “A silver Lucifer / serves / cocaine in cornucopia . . .” – I felt “stellectrified” (to use a Loy neologism). I still do. And those thermometer earrings of hers? I was a goner. I still am.

But which of Loy’s shorter poems to feature here – “Apology of Genius”? “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots”? “Der Blinde Junge”? I feel close to so many of them, but I keep returning to “Lunar Baedeker,” Loy’s satirical take, to the point of delirious, alliterative excess, on the timeworn poetic trope of the moon: “pocked with personification / the fossil virgin of the skies / waxes and wanes.”

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