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Sarah Mangold

Sarah Mangold

Sarah Mangold was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Oklahoma. She received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Mangold's work has been published in Fourteen Hills, Outlet, Tinfish, Ribot, Transfer, as well as in other journals. She currently lives in Seattle, where she publishes Bird Dog, a journal of innovative writing and art (

Also by Sarah Mangold

  • Boxer Rebellion (2004)
  • Blood Substitutes (1998)

Household Mechanics

Household MechanicsHousehold Mechanics

$14.00 paper | 61 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-930974-16-6
Publication Date: March, 2002
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Winner of the 2001 New Issues Poetry Prize

Foreword by C. D. Wright

In Household Mechanics, Sarah Mangold’s brilliant and eccentric first book, the story is never fully told but introduced and re-introduced. Line after dislocated line recalls our own attempt to reach the essence of the subject in the only way we know how—by continuously broaching it. Here, overheard conversation, family stories, literary theory, music, and even TV become part of history, the story one tells and retells. By turns playful and acerbic, Mangold reveals the futility of even trying to tell it right: there is no right, says Household Mechanics; there is no end to this, or any, tale.

"Here there is a list and there is a life. A coming of age. Doubt. A taking apart. The dog. The girl scout in the tornado. Good intentions. There is something of Plath in these domestic meditations. Something of Stein. ‘you know you’ve seen that. and mashed potatoes like green waves.'"
        —Laura Moriarty

"Awareness begins at home, “eye level with the cake,” or so one could infer from Sarah Mangold’s Household Mechanics, a disquieting review of indirect disclosures, internal churnings, and palpable notions, subjected to a tense and skeletal language. She probes, evokes but chooses not to describe or elaborate. She ‘pulls across’ which she distinguishes from ‘associating with.’ The voice is consistent, distant. The sentence is disjointed; the thinking continuous."
        -–C.D. Wright, from the Foreword


Household Mechanics

He hid in plain sight
his own highest hopes
wearing the red scarf

They had rehearsed it
blue ski parka
clutch of photographs
the formative event of his childhood
taken to the railroad station

He maintained a journal
his real name
safely stashed in Scarsdale
Most of the spoken words
modest wooden houses
well-ordered chimneys
The details of the dancing
in the same pleasant tone
But his first alcoholic beverage
turkey with all the trimmings

Then, there’s the sound
your eye right up to the screen
a slight breeze in the back of the house
the difference between spinning records

Sitting on the porch
Violet has her suitcase
in her bouncy way
feeling guilty about the string beans
and at least for now how she breathes
as someone always will
This sense of life relatively safe
the service road everyone secretly knows

And this is not about
her placement as a showgirl
and then to medical school
I can’t stand those eyes
whipped up and let down
hundreds of vacant chairs