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Desire Vail
Irregular Rhythms
In the Fold of a Hill
First Shine of Dawn
See How Wet the Street Sounds

Educated at Smith College and the State University of New York at Buffalo, Desire Vail worked as a rehabilitation counselor and teacher in the Buffalo area until she moved to Bath, New York, in 1990.  Now she volunteers at the Bath Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Steuben County Office for the Aging, and the United Way.  She lives with her guide dog in a log home in the woods.  There she tends her gardens, feeds the birds, and writes.  Below are her four chapbooks published by FootHills Publishing.

To contact Desire -

 Irregular Rhythms  (2003)

From the book:


I sense she's cutting individual hairs
And ask if she's removing the gray.
"Well, they're white," Marlene says,
"but that's not why I'm cutting them.
Certain hairs stick straight out from your scalp--
they're stiff and curly."
She places one in my hand.

I tell her about the hospital procedure:  
electric hit to the heart.
Did it also affect my hair?

Marlene admits my hair has changed
since my last cut.  
"Remember when we frosted our hair?
That's how it looks," she says and adds,  
"I think, as you gray,
your hair will get curlier."

Twirling the coarse strand between my fingers
I consider--
   a properly ticking heart
   only three tiny incisions
   no more heart medicine
   no pacemaker
   a doctor who cares
   friends and family who love me
and now--
   white curly hair in my old age.

Not bad.

Irregular Rhythms is a 28 page, hand-stitched chapbook.  ($6.00)

TO ORDER Irregular Rhythms  ON-LINE

To order through mail see bottom of page.

 In the Fold of a Hill  (2000)

From the book:


I was born in 1932
I lived at my birthplace for twenty-two years
I could hardly wait to get away
at 22 I married an Episcopal priest
at 41 I married a drinking alcoholic
at 52 I married a dirty old man
and I've written poetry since I was 50
some people know all about men some about love
         I know anger
some people know great poems by heart
         I recite mistakes in my judgment
I have raised two fine sons
I've never known real hunger but there are many foods
         I haven't tasted although I've tasted many
at 37 I returned to graduate school
         to learn how to make a living
at 22 I typed for the Navy in Washington DC
at 39 I started my first job as a rehab counselor
at 48 I flew in four planes with my guide dog
from Buffalo to South Dakota to ski
I never saw Roosevelt
         although I was born in the Depression
now I benefit from his legacy
my parents tried to make me a Republican
         it didn't work
yet I was late to let my family idols fall
in '66 I nearly committed suicide
in '67 I began a five-year-plan
         to improve my life
I am not a jealous person
I didn't envy Marilyn Monroe one bit
I was never unfaithful to any husband
I'd like to say I never talked behind my friends' backs
         but I probably did
I drink moderately I like the flavor and feeling
I have never earned my keep
         although I've tried
I've white-lied to protect myself and others
I've omitted to tell the whole truth for the same reason
but I'm a truthful person
I've lived in suburban houses city apartments a duplex
         a railroad flat and now in a country log home
         some people are homeless

I went to the Met Carnegie Hall and Broadway shows
         some people haven't heard of these
and for years didn't go to the places
         most people visit
         churches temples synagogues mosques
         or to astrologers
but I've thought a lot about the meaning of life
my poems are published in two chapbooks
         that I can't show my mother
arthritis arrhythmia and hypothyroidism are working on me
         and I'm blind
I'll never be a great poet or anything like that
but I would like to be
nor did anyone close to me go to war
         except for one before I knew him
I only had to sit in the hallway
         during grammar school air-raid drills
I think I've never been in love
in short
today in Bath I'm doing the best I can
I can say my life has been full
and who knows     how long I will live
         and what else will happen to me

In the Fold of a Hill is a 32 page, hand-stitched chapbook.  ($6.00)

TO ORDER In the Fold of a Hill  ON-LINE

To order through mail see bottom of page.

 First Shine of Dawn (1996)

From the book:

Sky Blue

A hole gapes in her desk's right corner
where older students put inkwells,
a groove for pencils spans its top edge,
under its slanted lid are stashed
her first-grade papers and books.
The crayons she's using are long and pointed,
each sheathed in a plain tinted wrap.
Swinging a bit on her swivel chair,
the girl leans over her picture.

She draws three flowers, all different,
a fence, and a barn with tall grass
growing all around it.
Now she's filling in the sky.
She knows sky doesn't just
go across the top,
it comes right down to the ground.

A boy in the next aisle
spies her drawing and laughs.
"Look!" He points. "She's colored the sky
green and the grass blue."
Other children gather and giggle.
The teacher looks too,
orders them back to their seats.

"What color is sky?" she asks the girl.
"Blue," the girl says. Two big tears
slide from under her glasses.
"What have you colored it?"
"Blue, I thought."
The teacher finds her some labeled crayons.
"I think these will help you," she says.
The girl picks out the one marked "blue"
and continues to crayon.
Her picture is ruined.
This color isn't the same
as her sky.

First Shine of Dawn is a 16 page, hand-stitched chapbook.  ($3.95)

TO ORDER In the Fold of a Hill  ON-LINE

To order through mail see bottom of page.

 See How Wet the Street Sounds  (1992)

From the book:

The Privilege

Leta takes my hand,
presses it
against the taut globe of her belly
somewhere near New Zealand or the Falklands.
The earth quakes gently, rhythmically.
What a mundane
wondrous thing to feel-
my grandchild having hiccups!

See How Wet the Street Sounds is a 32 page chapbook.  ($4.50)

TO ORDER See How Wet the Street Sounds  ON-LINE

To order through mail see below.
To order any of the above listed books by mail send total price
plus $1.25 Shipping and Handling ($1.75 in Canada; $3.25 other countries)
for each address sent to.

Send orders to:

FootHills Publishing
PO Box 68
Kanona, NY 14856

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