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Hold and Release

by CB Follett

The Body Wants to Be Useful

The body, supplying us with levers and pulleys,
wants to be used, kept in good order,
drops of oil dripped into joints. The body,
having no thoughts or emotions of its own,
is highly attuned to the other systems of our being,
and sometimes against its better nature,
but hangs back now, lazy and reluctant.

The body has instincts,
knows it is happier when tuned like a engine.
The body wants to be a Ferrari
but has settled into being an old pickup
that needs a lot of work or it will end up
with grasses growing through the floorboards.

I talk to my body, whine, apologize for betrayals,
and pretending it isn't there.
It pays me back by becoming the Tin Woodsman.
Sometimes I cannot face the body;
step out of it — move to one side
and pretend it isn’t there. This is unfair, I know
because the body is only trying to please,
it's getting mixed messages — desire and ennui —
it doesn’t know which master to obey —
it's own inner, quiet, voice
or the parliament of outside voices of temptation.
It lacks the will power to consider
what’s right for the body, what it needs to be useful.

I bring it oil, and balms of sweet smelling lotions —
I beg it to do what's right,
not follow the example I've set for it —
not listen to the easy chorusing
of the indolent, oh yes, the hedonist.


Hold and Release, Follett's fifth book of poetry, is a remarkable collection of experiences and reflections captured in the author's intimate, engaging style. Follett imbues memories of youth with the wisdom of someone who has learned from life. She shares family history and secrets, with a sense of love, loss, and humor. And she finds in nature a beauty that is dangerous and a danger that is beautiful. Hold and Release speaks to anyone who is amazed and bemused by the world.


CB Follett’s remarkable new poems illustrate the delicate yet often painful ways we grow into — and beyond — the fabric of our families. The profound intimacy of ‘Lyn Follett’s poetry is often set against both the great beauty and the implicit danger of the natural world, as the many branchings of a life reveal themselves to be either, and sometimes both, the sweet limbs of possibility or the broken reckonings of experience. This is a gorgeous and memorable collection of great power, wisdom, and grace.
— David St. John

Hold and Release
is award-winning poet CB Follett's fifth published book of free-verse poetry in which she takes up themes of family history, near-forgotten secrets, the inspirations of love, the deprivations of loss, and the nature of beauty. An accomplished poetry of considerable imagination and an undeniable flair for language, Follett's unique style of engagement is to be admired, even savored, poem by poem and verse by verse. "The Swallow": My daughter is a swallow / who does not, any season, / return / she swooped out, / stroking hard / her arrowed wings / with no intention then / or / now / of turning back."
— James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Midwest Book Review

As a poet, CB Follett is equally at home writing of the power and glory of the natural world or of the "tang of memory" and the small intimacies that make a life. Her poems are fierce yet tender, her language lyrical yet grounded. Hold and Release encompasses the largeness of the ocean and the aurora borealis as well as the intensely personal experience of scattering a mother’s ashes or of mourning a lost daughter "swallow / who does not, any season, / return." Because Follett’s world-view is expansive, she’s able to intermingle poems of love and loss with humorous poems or ones that are gently self-deprecating. These tonal variations make this book endlessly engaging — one to read and reread. CB Follett is, indeed, a "star catcher," a gifted poet who speaks eloquently to both head and heart.
— Susan Terris, author of Natural Defenses