Originally published in Willow Springs 82
From the author
Notes on “When’s My Luck Gonna Change”
It’s funny you ask about how this poem arose, developed, etc., and if there were any surprises involved, because I’ve written two essays for Terrain: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments about just that (well, about other poems that followed the same method I used for “When’s My Luck Gonna Change?”)—
I’d say this is Magnús Siggurðsson’s doing, or else the Icelandic language’s doing, because I found his poems in Terrain.org (also collected in a book called Cold Moons) so damn interesting. I don’t mean the English translations, though those are good too; I mean the originals. Since I don’t speak Icelandic, seeing words on the page like “af myrkri,” and “pví upp,” and “bilaður mótor,” and “blásvörtum” was pretty strange. But also familiar. I mean, they looked a bit like “enough miracles,” and “divvy up,” and “build a motor,” and “stormblast,” so I used those things the way you’d cross a river by stepping from stone to stone, resulting not in a true translation of Siggurðsson’s poem “Blek” (trans.: “Ink”) but in this surprising literary zydeco or gumbo or something.
The key—at least for me—was letting my Guesswork Brain do the steering while telling my Everything Else Brain to just shut up and quit grabbing at the wheel. Who needs to know where they’re headed all the time? Well, most of us, probably, but not poems. They’re luckier than we are.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
Lately I’ve been listening to Camper Van Beethoven’s Key Lime Pie, The La’s: BBC In Session, and of course Tom Waits—especially Rain Dogs and Frank’s Wild Years.
The La’s were this hugely popular live act in the ’80s, but they never had an album because the front man hated every sound engineer and kept replacing who was in the band. Then, when their album finally did come out, he didn’t like it and disowned it immediately. Luckily the BBC recorded four live studio performances over the years, and hearing the different band members and the different approaches to the songs is really cool. This is the band that wrote “There She Goes.” Yes, that song The Boo Radleys covered, the one on the soundtrack to So I Married an Axe Murderer. Guess who’s version is better?
Eating and drinking? Pizza too often and whiskey not enough . . . one in particular: The Green Spot from Midleton Distillery (that’s spelled right; there’s just one “d”). It’s only distributed in a handful of states, and Utah isn’t one of them, so if you want to send me a present, many thank-yous. Of course, you’ll have to disguise it since wine and liquor can’t be mailed here (lunacy!). Rob Carney, 2309 South 800 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84106.
And animals? Still the same bad-ass cat. He’s 16 now, a Maine Coon; his name is Gruden. And also this acrobat squirrel who eats from the bird feeder by hooking a back claw in the tree trunk for balance—one claw for all that gravity-defiance!—while stretching out Superman-style and going face first into the seeds.
About Rob Carney
Rob Carney is originally from Washington state. He is the author of five collections, most recently The Book of Sharks (Black Lawrence Press, 2018) and 88 Maps (Lost Horse Press, 2015), which was named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. His work has appeared in Cave Wall, Columbia Journal, Sugar House Review, Terrain: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments, and dozens of others, as well as the Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward (2006). In 2014 he received the Robinson Jeffers/Tor House Foundation Award for Poetry. He is a Professor of English and Literature at Utah Valley University and lives in Salt Lake City.
You can find more of his work online at: