The first-ever poetry book set on a llama farm, Daniel Lassell’s debut collection, Spit, examines the roles we play in the act of belonging. It is a portrait of a boy living on a farm populated with chickens sung to sleep by lullaby, captive wolves next door that attack a child, and a herd of llamas learning to survive despite coyotes and a chaotic family. The collection in part explores the role of the body in health and illness and one’s treatment of the earth and others. A theme of spirituality also weaves throughout the collection as the speaker treks into adulthood, yearning for peace amid the decline of his parents’ marriage. Driven by a “wish to visit / some landless landscape,” the speaker eventually leaves his family’s farm, only to find that return is impossible. After losing the farm and the llama herd to his parents’ divorce, the speaker wrestles with the role of presence as it relates to healing, remarking, “I wish enough, / to have only // these memories I have.” Unflinching at every turn, the collection pushes the boundaries of “home” to arrive upon new meaning, definition, and purpose.
“In Daniel Lassell’s Spit, we see the leaning faces of barns disappear. There is a relationship between what is sacred and what is empty, between homesickness and the guilt of thinking of any place as one’s own. What I love about this collection is its ability to convey both an adoration of landscape and the violence inherent to the pastoral: ‘beads of yolk dapple the soil.’”
—TANEUM BAMBRICK, author of Vantage