Ashley Seitz Kramer

Even doubt is difficult, heated

   slowly, cooked to softness, made

to sink in on itself, close around

   its own emptiness, a pumpkin's only

trick. But isn't it somewhat obvious?

   The candle wants to be a flower

lighting the porch, the flower wants to be

   a small blue bird, and so on. 

What you hear in your room

   at night while you're wanting to be

your own plot of soft grass

   is the world working around you—

it's quite a diligent machine!

   You suspect it of telling many lies.

Yes, you are doubtful, sell

  everything too cheaply, practically

give the world away, plastic cup by cup.

  The chips of golden paint flaking off

that trophy are more embarrassing now.

   Is it any wonder the world can't trust you?

Can you hear it breathing heavy

   when you open the desk drawer of sleep

and you startle it by singing wake up, wake up,

   this is how we tell a truth? Can you hear

it breathing now, climbing the stairs,

   loosening its diamond-patterned tie,

the one you hate and try to hide,

   the one that makes you dizzy?


In Praise of Museum of Distance

“Museum of Distance is an Ovidian adventure, in which thousands of images play a kind of dream-tag, each one prompting the next. Though flashes of autobiography appear occasionally, the book is very far from the typical stories-from-my-life collection. Instead, Ashley Seitz Kramer is committed to evoking the fungibility of experience as processed by imagination. ‘I made my own bicycle / from cereal boxes… I made a photograph from broken seashells. / I made a bat-house from orange peels.’ Kramer’s world is akin to the world of Dean Young — a world in which everything is changing before you know it. Kramer’s poems are like seeds — ‘each with a desire to sprout, each with genuine thirst.’”

—Mark Halliday

​“This stunning debut collection links images and observations that absolutely claim their moments, nudging the reader into a persistent sense of mystery, possibility, and sometimes the tease of threat. In the tradition of Magic Realism, it blurs the boundaries between the quotidian and the fantastic, stretching and blending, until the reader might well wonder, ‘I know where I’ve landed, but how did I get here?’ Kramer’s poems have extraordinary authority; every sentence is shapely and urgent, every passage exquisitely textured, every provocation earned and convincing. It is impossible, then, to resist or question a single one of their flights.

​—Leslie Ullman

"Octavio Paz writes that 'readers of poems worm their way into immeasurable realities and in the mirrors of words discover their own infinity.' Ashley Seitz Kramer’s poems begin in one place and end in another, entirely different, a place illuminated by the wisdom of distance. There’s no better guide to infinity than one who makes such travel her 'holy business/ knowing where to put each thing.' Museum of Distance engrosses and enriches those lucky enough to enter."

​—Natasha Sajé

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