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POETRY SWAP MEET: Poetry we don't usually know about, or?

Jade-Pandora
Jade-Pandora
jade tiger
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[/u]ellen[/u]

FIVE STAGES OF GRIEVING

grief sits you down on your ass like a boulder
—Gordon Masman

The belief-river rushes around her muddy and sloppy.
She twists and buffets like a cherished stuffed-bear
torn from a child’s grasp and thrown in.
He has died in war. She never doubted his death.
No fantasy could place his skin next to hers,
no illusion grow his curly hair,
no phantom restore his stone-still body.
Grief hurls wet and stunning.
Sleep all day. Sleep all night.
Stubborn, she won’t yearn for his frozen face.
Death happens to everyone. She discards his watch,
gets papers in order and signed.
The boulder Earth still spins no matter what.
She doesn’t dwell on regret.
Says goodbye quietly.
Ice has its allure. Winter protects her.
Docile and melted. She contradicts stages.
Stretches toward orphans and science.
Sharpens pencils.
Won’t let anger crack her.
She bursts through the rain,
finds unblemished wrists
and pale blue robin’s eggs.
She chews on ice-cubes. They hurt her teeth.
She puts on false eyelashes.
Buys sexy dresses. Swallows new-tasting semen.
Looks for flaws in all the faces.
She crushes rainbows.
Her desire to pray flies beyond the horizon.
She finally gets a Ph.D.
Flawless and bookish
she fools her new men.
She goes political. Carries placards.
Listens to progressive talk-radio, stays close to home.
Cries during passionate speeches.
Always on, like a humming machine,
she lives patient and trembling.
She’s drenched rough, tumbling past debris—
torn petals, bug parts, twigs like distorted stinging arms.
The river beats her as though she were guilty.

AnonymousBystander
AnonymousBystander
Fire of Insight
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Sticky

'By our efforts, we have lit a fire... a fire in the minds of men.
It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress,
and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.'

(George W. Bush)

for Adrian Mitchell at 75

One sticky summer afternoon
  Three boys were playing near a wood;
They made a swing, played hide-and-seek,
  And ran around as children should.
Then, gathering some twigs and sticks
  They built a little cairn until
They only needed bigger sticks         
  To light a fire, as children will.       

Beneath the ancient family tree
  The sticks were watching in alarm,
'What's going on?' Simplistick asked,
  Said Idealistick, 'just stay calm.'
'I don't like this one little bit,'
  Said Pessimistick; 'I suggest,'
Beamed Optimistick, 'we will find
  It's bound to turn out for the best.'

'No doubt they'll put me on the top,
  Where I belong,' Bombastick boomed,
'It doesn't matter anyway,'
  Wailed Fatalistick, 'we're all doomed.'
Unrealistick then piped up,
  'They're going to build a dinosaur!'
'Of course, they are,' Sarcastick said,
  'That's what they've got those matches for.'

'It's obvious,' Majestick said,
  'That I'm the stick that they require.'
Artistick said, 'I do so hope
  We're going to make a lovely fire.'
'I'd like to know,' Statistick mused,
  'How many sticks they're going to need.'
Scholastick looked up from his book,
  'Look can't you see I'm trying to read?'


'What's going on?' Simplistick asked,
  'I'm not so sure,' Agnostick sighed,
'I wish I knew - it's hard to say -
  It all depends - I can't decide.'
Iconoclastick threw some stones,
  Enthusiastick tried to dance,
Acoustick strummed, Monastick hummed,
  While Mystick fell into a trance.

When all the sticks were gathered up
  They lay in one enormous heap,
'We've had it,' Fatalistick groaned.
  Somnambulistick fell asleep.
Said Masochistick 'will it hurt?'
  'I'm sure it will,' Sadistick hissed,
'How awful,' Altruistick sniffed,
  Domestick snarled and clenched his fist.

The boys then stuffed the bonfire's base
  With piles of leaves and bits of paper,
They passed a box of matches round,
  And tried to light the home-made taper.
Just then the wind began to blow,
  The matches flickered in the breeze,
Said Nationalistick with a snort,
  'Those matches aren't from British trees.'

Eventually the fire was lit,  
  The little flames grew hotter, higher,
'How beautiful!' Artistick said,
  And fell into the glowing fire.
The flames began to lick the sticks,
  'That tickles!' Masochistick yelped,
'I bet it does,' Sadistick grinned,
  Realistick shrugged, 'it can't be helped.'

'I do so hope I look my best,'
  Said Narcissistick with a smile,
'If I am going up in flames
  At least I'm going to go in style.'
'What's going on?' Simplistick asked,
  Fantastick said, 'it's just a joke.'
'It's wonderful!' Ecstatick gasped,
  And vanished in a puff of smoke.       


Ecclesiastick said a prayer,
  Gymnastick balanced on her head,
'Let's face it,' Fatalistick shrugged,
  'It's obvious we'll soon be dead.'
'I must protest,' Bombastick boomed,
  'I'm far too valuable to die!'
'I knew it,' Pessimistick groaned.
  Nihilistick laughed, 'The End is Nigh!'

Then Communistick raised his voice,
  'We can't just branch out on our own,
We must resist - all sticks unite,
  Together stronger than alone!'
'I'm not a stick!' Majestick barked,
  'I'm more a branch - or else a bough,'
'A Special Branch!' Sarcastick smirked,
  'It's time you twigged you're firewood now'.         

Said Egotistick, 'I don't care
  What happens to the rest of you,
I've packed my trunk, I'm outta here -'
  Ballistick broke him clean in two.
'I saw that!' Voyeuristick said,
  'So what?' Antagnonistick snapped   .
Elastick jumped on Plastick's head,      
  Evangelistick loudly clapped.

'What's going on?' Simplistick asked,
  Anachronistick swore an oath,
Surrealistick yelled, 'A fish!'
  Antagonistick punched them both.
And so the sticks began to fight.       
  As they were eaten by the fire,
And one by one the silly sticks
  Became each other's funeral pyre.

The moral of this sticky story
  Of sticks who were too proud to bend,
Is we must learn to stick together
  Or else we'll meet a sticky end.
Although the earth is hotting up
  We can't agree on what to do,
So stick around and ask yourself,
  What kind of silly stick are you?

Andy Croft

You can find Andy Croft's work here ... http://andy-croft.co.uk/poetry.php as well as Sticky, I'd also recommend his other work such as Ghost Writer (written in Pushkin Stanzas), 1948, A Modern Don Juan: Cantos for These Times by Divers Hands.  All very impressive.


Josh
Josh
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Thanks AB, that's the best poem (Sticky by Andy Croft) I've read in a long time.

Jade-Pandora
Jade-Pandora
jade tiger
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Mary Ann Honaker

WHEN PEELED BACK

Beneath morning Folgers, hazelnut creamer,
beneath wet hand-prints of fog lifting slowly from the window,
beneath thick-inked newspaper and glossy ads rolled into it,

Beneath the smudge of newsprint on your forefinger as your heartbeat
drops another octave, as all the fucks you could give drain from you
more slowly than floodwater drains to lowlands, to ditches,

Beneath the archaic metal dragon unfolding its thin tendons
over the parking lot of smashed Biggie cups and tumbleweed napkins,
all of its teeth filled in, jagged, askew, with bedewed shopping carts,

Beneath neon codes of signs and symbols of every chain restaurant,
store, coffee shop, the same everywhere beckoning you to the same flavors,
beneath the crushed liquor store box the dread-headed homeless woman sits on,

Beneath the coin you do or do not drop into her strangely fresh, white paper cup,
beneath words you speak flatly over and over again at work, because it’s a script
and you cannot, must not deviate, because they are always listening,

Beneath the momentary joy of finding sugar-skull themed coasters,
beneath the low frequency satisfaction of setting them out on your end tables,
and how quickly that glow, like drunkenness, is replaced by a hollow ringing,

Beneath getting everything you want and finding yourself still unhappy,
beneath making a new list to tick off and fall of the cliff of,
beneath how the bones of your city are starting to show, siding in the side-yard,

rafters bare now that the skin of roof has been peeled off or has fallen in
like the cheeks of a young woman’s body as it mummifies on some remote hillside,
beneath the bruises on a child’s arm, the circular stains in the crease of a father’s elbow,

Beneath it all when peeled back you find the cruel face of some fey spirit,
whose plump pink hands rub together all the smooth stones of your riverbed:

__________________________________

Mary Ann Honaker holds a B.A. in philosophy from West Virginia University, a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and is currently a student in the Creative Writing MFA program at Lesley University.

Jade-Pandora
Jade-Pandora
jade tiger
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The following will be posted as multiple parts due to word count limits per post.

Maya Tevet Dayan

FOREIGN-NESS


1.
“I’m not obsessed,”
Violette says, “just really passionate
about you trimming your side of the hedge.”
In translation from Canadian: she is about to report us to the city.
My husband responds immediately: “Gladly!”
The sorrow of the penalty starts sprouting in his throat.
He would gladly trim Violette’s head 
instead of standing on a ladder
with a rusty pruning hook in four degrees Celsius.


2.
From the top of the ladder, Violette’s yard unfolds
precise as a map. Two tanning chairs dripping
of April showers, rows of flowers saluting 
the grass. My husband waves the pruning hook 
to say hi, as Violette appears with the black dog,
screams “Cody!” and apologizes for the umpteenth time:
“The dog is deaf.”
At home, my husband whispers to me, “The dog can hear fine!
I’ve heard her speak to him in a regular tone.”
The thought sticks to my mind,
why pretend a dog is deaf?


3.
My husband is an avid believer in conspiracies; traffic jams
are an economic plot run by governments. Russian oligarchs 
keep the state of Israel from collapse. Clouds
are chemical trails that will bring humanity to destruction.
“Trust me,” he whispers,
“she’s out to get us.” Through the trimmed trees,
Violette can see us better now—
red poisonous mushrooms popped up after the rains.
The bushes grow wild, the girls’ toys
still scattered on the garden path since summer.


4.
I’m missing Sasson and Galila, my childhood neighbors 
who lived across a tangled fence that no one ever trimmed.
At lunch, I ate chicken and potatoes with their daughters
right out of the pan. I helped sort folded laundry into their closets,
I knew Galila’s lingerie drawer and her fights
with Sasson. They screamed like crows
and made up like rabbits—mouth, tongue,
all of it. “That’s what a happy marriage looks like,” Galila said.
“Not a single day goes by that you don’t want a divorce.”


5.
The day we moved here, Violette extended her hand to me
tall and wrinkled
and introduced herself: “I’m separated,
don’t feel bad about it.” I agreed.
“Good,” she said, “when you’ve had enough 
 you’ve had enough.”


6. 
She introduced the neighborhood: her three dogs,
the raccoon that tips the garbage pails, the rats,
the squirrels that nibble at the rooftops. She told me
what calms her: gardening and spreading traps for the squirrels.
She has to calm down. Her husband
still hasn’t removed his things from the house,
the neighbors won’t stop sighing 
about the separation,
and her daughter stopped eating.


7. 
My best friend in high school stopped eating. Retreated
quietly from meals
while we gossiped, studied, watched movies.
Her body shrunk
as though offended. Why did she hide it? 
Why from me?
Still, I nod in understanding
every time Violette tells me
about her daughter. In my mind, she is dark skinned
like my friend, black hair, thick lips. Violette’s daughter
lies on the carpet in her room in Raanana,
leaning over our history notebook,
always in those 501 Levi’s jeans from the ’90s.


8.
Galila said: “Those miserable girls 
whose jeans hang on them like on a scarecrow.
Be proud that you have something to grab!”
And when I slouched, she announced,
“It’s those with flat breasts that should be ashamed!”


9.
Violette and I talk about gardens, never about “territories.”
About animals, never about “terror.”
When she leaves a note on our front door
with the Baptist church logo,
I don’t tell her that I was born
where the Jordan River extends from the Sea of Galilee,
where John the Baptist cast water on the head of Christ,
and how, as children, we peeked at the pilgrims
coming out of those same waters, with their sheer gowns: bellies
bosoms, hips, thin bums
and big bums.

( CONTINUED )...

Jade-Pandora
Jade-Pandora
jade tiger
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(Post 2 of 3 countinued

10.
The note said: “I have Build-a-Bear teddies for your daughters.”


11.
My daughters don’t play with Build-a-Bears.
I thank Violette for her good intention. 
She figures I’m excited about the teddies, hands me 
a heavy sack and apologizes:
“My daughter demanded all the accessories.
She never took no for an answer.”


12.
In a better world, Violette’s daughter 
would have taken no for an answer, felt shame
for being as thin as a scarecrow, eaten something right out of a pan 
and babysat my daughters. 
Instead, she is my dark-skinned friend from high school,
and I’m walking on eggshells speaking to her mom. Weary
but not sure of what.


13.
I allow my girls to go to Violette’s house
to pet the dogs. I stand behind the trimmed trees 
and listen. I pray she doesn’t ask them
about the teddies we gave to charity,
and that they’re not too loud, too Israeli.
She might tell them something that sounds nice
like, “Maybe you want to be 
more quiet.” In Canadian want means have to.
My daughters get that by now.


14.
What my girls really want is to play
every day with Violette’s dogs.
What Violette wants is for her husband
to get his things out of the house.
What my husband wants is to crack
her internet passwords.
“What for?” I ask. “We have our own wifi.”
“For fun,” my husband says. 
“It’s easy to guess dog-owners’ passwords.”
I ask him if he has nothing better to do.
“There you go!” he cheers. “Curby111, Gina222, Poppy333.”


15. 
Galila said: “Love is something 
you give a man anyways. 
So you may as well give it
to a rich man.”


16.
Violette gave her love to a rich man. She says
he didn’t do badly in business. 
She lives in an aubergine-coloured house
four stories high, with a wooden balcony and a waterfall
in the yard. She arranges pebbles
in the shape of a stream. Places a bench. Shoves gas
into holes in the garden, runs after a mole-rat
through the thick fumes ascending from the ground,
measures the heights of trees with a ribbon.
The two wrinkles between her eyebrows deepen
like dimples in the soil.
The three short dogs follow her
like a gaggle of goslings.


17. 
I read that goslings always follow
the first creature to move in front of them when they hatch.
It’s usually the goose. Her march imprints them,
like a secret password, like hypnosis. 
The goose never needs to look back.
Water imprints the salmon, who always return to their native stream
in order to spawn. 
Foxes, guinea pigs, chickens—all imprinted
to identify the one who brought them into this world
and to survive.


18.
In late spring, I see Violette’s daughter for the first time
stepping out of their gate, floating onto our street
tall and thin as a lone ghost. 
Her hair is long and ginger.
Her face fair and blurred like the afternoon moon. 
If she were to step out now 
from the Jordan River,
through her gown you’d see twigs and branches.

( CONTINUED..,)

Jade-Pandora
Jade-Pandora
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( Post 3 of 3 )


19. 
Sometimes an imprint goes wrong. 
A row of goslings follows a human. A kitten nurses 
from a female dog. I once had a lover
whose palms imitated my hand gestures
as he spoke. When we broke up he said, “How can you leave
when you are already imprinted in my body?”


20.
Galila said: “Don’t ever feel bad for men; 
they’ll never feel bad for you.”


21.
Violette doesn’t feel bad for her husband. She speaks of him
and the words whistle from her mouth in a whisper,
like a match before fire ignites. 
She does feel bad for the cyclamen flowers
and spreads ice around them when the air gets warm.
She shifts rocks in the garden from side to side,
and at the start of summer, she plants
right in the Canadian chill
a palm tree that arrives on a boat from Madagascar. 
“I’ve tried everything,” she says.
“The girl won’t eat.”


22.
I wonder if anyone ever researched 
what came of mothers 
whose offsprings were imprinted by others.


23.
My daughters return from Violette’s with a bouquet of purple flowers.
They tell me they’re called dahlias. They distinguish between the leaves
of silver maple, red maple, and sugar maple.
They tell me the raspberry bushes need lots of light,
and that’s why Violette asked us to trim the fence.
Their botanical knowledge expands
like an ocean between my childhood and theirs.
I ask my husband if we shouldn’t go back to Israel.
Risk the chemical clouds, the terror,
the high gas prices, the crumbling democracy
so that our girls will eat chicken at the neighbors’.
My husband reminds me that we don’t even eat chicken
and asks what it is I actually want.


24.
“You want your husband to come home with cheer,” Gallila said. 
Sasson always honked three times
when he slid into the parking lot of their home.
Gallila said, “That’s what a happy man sounds like.”


25.
One summer night, Tim is standing at my door.
Violette’s separated husband.
His head high, his hair white, like a cloud in an unconspiring sky. 
He has just removed his things from the house. He smiles softly. 
He nods and shakes the girls’ hands. 
He lingers on the family photos on the fridge.
Suddenly I feel bad for Violette. It’s too late.
He’s going back to his birthplace in the east. His car is packed. 
He’s standing at the entrance to the kitchen, looks at the onions
frying in the pan, and asks, “Maybe you have an idea for me 
to help my daughter?” 


26.
My friend’s parents hospitalized her.
I haven’t seen her since. Did she ever eat again?
Tim’s eyes hang on to me as if I was a last resort. 
I want to imprint my girls, if it’s not too late,
like goslings, like salmons, foxes. Like Galila imprinted me.
I want them to hear the inaudible sound 
of our blood, to identify the smell of my palms, to belong to me
in the endless foreign-ness of this country.


27.
Tim bends over the kitchen counter and writes his number on a note.
Then signs: “Tim, Amy Anorexia.”
He says, that way you’ll remember me. He’s right.
I remember him even when I forget
other things. I remember the note
and his floating walk towards the door
in tall steps, careful, as if in a moment he’ll trip
over a pulled rope in the hall, and how instead of extending
my hand to him, I held onto the wooden frying spoon.
I remember all of those, and his embrace,
all that height
folding above me like a stalk, and the question 
he asks before leaving
standing in front of me and waiting for an answer:
“What is with you women? Why do you all at once
stop being happy?”

__________________________________

Maya Tevet Dayan: “I wrote my first poem the night my mom died. She was 64. I picked up my phone to call her, to tell her the news, that she had just passed away. Instead I sent her a text which came in the form of a poem. After a year of texting poems to her mute phone I published my first poetry book, a one-sided dialogue with my dead mother. That year we left Israel and moved to Canada. Orphanhood made me feel like a stranger in my own home. I thought it will be easier to be a stranger in a place where I don’t even expect to belong. That I will feel less orphaned in a country my mom had never even visited. Being in Canada was supposed to make the distance from her more logical. It didn’t. Poetry is that ocean of fire I step into every time I’m desperate for some logic. It’s obviously hopeless. But for those moments when it seems to almost work, I keep on trying.”

__________________________________

Maya Tevet Dayan is an Israeli-Canadian poet and writer, who shares her time between Tel-Aviv and Vancouver.  She's the nrecipient of the Israeli Prime Minister award for Literature for 2018.

Tevet Dayan holds a PhD in Indian philosophy and literature, had lectured in Tel-Aviv University, Haifa university and the University of British Columbia. In her dissertation she translated the Sanskrit Naishadhiya-Charitam – one of the five "great poetries" into English, with special focus on the role of the Goddess of Language in that piece. Her essays, along with her translations of Sanskrit poetry have appeared in various venues in Israel, the United States and India.

( END )

Jade-Pandora
Jade-Pandora
jade tiger
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Robert Wrigley

WHY SHOULD THERE BE STARS?
Wallace Roney (May 25, 1960—March 31, 2020)

No one to talk to but a little bird, first
dusky flycatcher of the year, on the final day
of an eternal March. There’s snow falling,
and the bird’s unhappy about that.

Perched on the lee side of the tree,
it’s hunched and plumped,
and I’ve opened the window an inch,
so that it might listen, with me, to a slow, sad song.

The bird cocks its head when the trumpet comes in,
turns its body slightly, and its eyes look bright.
But its eyes always look bright and its song
isn’t much. The field guide says its five notes
consist of clip, whit, whee, wheep, and zee.

Though it never flies at night,
it surely knows why there should be stars.
Still, when the song ends, it bounces a bit
on the limb it’s perched on and seems
to want but doesn’t ask for more.

Today the great trumpeter died, at fifty-nine,
of the plague that sweeps the face of the earth.
The little bird and I listen on.
Every time the song ends, I ask “Again?”
and the bird just says zee, or whit, or wheep.

________________________________

Robert Wrigley: “Jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney died this week of the virus. My heart is broken.”
________________________________

Robert Wrigley (born 1951 in East St. Louis, Illinois) is an American poet and educator.
In 1971 Wrigley was inducted into the army, filing for discharge as a conscientious objector.  He received his M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Montana in 1976, where he studied under poets Richard Hugo, Madeline DeFrees, and John Haines.
[....]
Wrigley retired from teaching (in 2016) at the M.F.A. program in creative writing at the University of Idaho, where his wife, Kim Barnes, a memoirist and writer, also teaches.

Jade-Pandora
Jade-Pandora
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Kimberly Kemler

FROM OBLIVIOUS WATERS
after William Empson

The sink is clogged. We brush our teeth and wait
for it to drain, our conversation stalled
until, the water low, we spit. It’s late,

but I want to find a line I’ve just recalled
where a woman cleans her teeth into a lake.
My love is patient. He watches me search sprawled

on the floor among the masters, Donne and Blake
and Pope not having written of the sky
a woman made in morning, half-awake,

her toothpaste stars slow orbiting each thigh.
A picture, stored between pages years ago,
falls to the floor and catches my lover’s eye:

me, bathing in a river in Tokyo.
Instead of verse, I’ve unearthed memory—
six lost friends, a forgotten language, the photo

itself forgotten until now. We see,
of course, the poem in the suds, though there’s
no mist, no dawn, but day and younger me

washing her hair in the passing current. She wears
my swimsuit, holds my hairbrush, smiles back
at someone on the shore it’s clear she cares

for, even loves. Who was he, then, whose backpack
spills into the frame? Too many years
have passed. I’ve lost his name. The things I lack

confound, so the poet I can’t find appears
behind the camera, in his open bag
the poem, extra film, a couple beers,

and the summer blanket we’ll hang like a flag
to mark our cabin. William, was it you
who knew me then, who watched my wet skin brag

with stars? The river carried them out of view
before they could pool to mimic the coming night,
leaving a trail of white soap residue.

Another woman, then, appears in the bright
red of a darkroom, where my film is dipped
into developer. She lifts the campsite

from the stop bath. The negatives are clipped
to dry in even rows and she surveys
all the photographs that weren’t slipped

between the pages of a book, her gaze
following chemical drops that seem to freeze
each separate tress forever where it lays.

What does she know who pulls my memories
from oblivious waters, who brings light to every frame?
The face of someone I loved. The startling peace

in the stills. On a sign, the river’s name.
She trims the film to where the pictures start.
The world is water, a woman at its heart.

__________________________________

Kimberly Kemler: “I wanted for a while to write about that river in Tokyo, but I let too much time pass. When I got around to it, all the narrative details were gone—instead, there was this incantatory Empson poem, and my newfound love for film photography, and on top of that I’d been reading a lot of Schnackenberg, whose music informed my own. To be honest, this poem isn’t what I set out to write, which is, ultimately, why I write: to arrive at truths I may not have otherwise.”

AnonymousBystander
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Peter Dale Scott ... all of his work is worth reading, whether it be poetry or prose.  After Bob Dylan released, Murder Most Foul, I thought of Scott, and thought of his quote 'conspiracy of denial'.

The poem is a screen grab from https://www.comingtojakarta.net/2014/09/07/greek-theater/ when I tried to cut and paste it in the conventional manner, the formatting was lost.  I've also purposely omitted the bibliography in order to encourage everyone to visit the site.

I also chose this particular poem because I'm currently reading Seth Rosenfields, Subversives which features Savio.

Oh, and Peter Dale Scott is a poet with whom you should be familiar.

Josh
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Thanks again AB for posting a great, unusual and inspiring poem - you introduced me to Peter Dale Scott some time ago - obviously time to revisit him. Best regards, Josh.

Jade-Pandora
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J.R. Solonche

THE LOVER OF STONE

The lover of stone must be old,
for there is no such thing as a young stone.

The lover of stone must be strong,
for he must be able to climb up the mountain

and the summit of the mountain
to find the beginning of stone.

And he must be able to climb down
the mountain again to the valley

and to the bottom of the valley
to find the ending of stone.

The lover of stone must be a genius at unrequited love.
He must be a connoisseur of the cold.

The lover of stone must be a saint,
for stone will no more return his love

than does God return that of the saint.
The lover of stone must be jealous.

He must be jealous of the water that loves stone to smooth.
And he must be jealous of the wind that loves stone to death.

_________________________________

J.R. Solonche: “I write poetry because I can’t compose music. That’s the short answer. The long answer involves my 12th grade English teacher at Evander Childs High School in the Bronx, Mr. Feinberg, who dared me to write a poem, which I did. Well, I guess that’s another short answer.”

——————————————-
The poet is professor emeritus of English at SUNY–Orange County.
He is professor emeritus of English at SUNY–Orange County, California.

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Dante Di Stefano

NOTES TO MYSELF DURING NATIONAL POETRY MONTH, 2020

Remember, bluets still sprout
beneath your boots
when you take your daughter
for a walk by the river.

Even though an orange snow fence
surrounds the jungle gym
in the park down the street,
there’s the low fork
of a young oak to sit her in.

Remember, even if the hoops
have all been unscrewed
from the backboards,
you can still feign a hook shot for her.

Remember, if the balcony
is closed,
sing through the wall.

Find the riot, unquelled,
in the cherry blossom’s center.

Remember, beneath each scarf,
bandanna, and surgical mask,
there is a throat
that might break into sudden
surprising aria.

Remember, how astonished
your daughter is
at motorcycles and ladybugs,
a pebble she finds
in a neighbor’s driveway,
the stars, the moon, mayflies,
streetlights seen from
the window before bed.

Remember, the image of
your wife’s brown hair
sprawled on the pillow
in the blue hour
of any morning
is worth more
than all your poems.

Remember, even an angry word
from her
is worth more than
the best line of poetry
you have ever read.

Remember, your poems
cannot shelter you,
or make a roof
for the ones you love.

Remember, the earth’s
sole vocation is to astonish.

Remember, the angels of the earth
choir themselves
with mouths full of sod.

Remember, glaciers melt,
oceans rise,
coastlines recede.

Remember, everything can happen
at once and always,
and God, and heaven, and hell.

Remember, the world is
inside you,
the meadow between
one clover and one bee.

Remember, the world is sweet
and spinning, still.

__________________________________

Dante Di Stefano: “This is really a love note to my wife and to my daughter, and also a poem about what poetry means, and doesn’t mean, to me.”

———————————————

Dante Di Stefano received a PhD in English from Binghamton University. He is the author of Ill Angels (Etruscan Press, 2019) and Love Is a Stone Endlessly in Flight (Brighthorse Books, 2016). Di Stefano’s poem, “Prompts (for High School Teachers Who Write Poetry),” was selected by Presidential Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco for the 2019 On Teaching Poem Prize, which is given to honor the best unpublished poem written about K–12 teaching and/or teachers. A poetry editor for DIALOGIST, Di Stefano lives in Endwell, New York.

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Tishani Doshi

TREE OF LIFE

“Bengal men self-quarantine on tree to keep others safe”
—Hindustan Times

It could be romantic to sleep in a tree
with all the sounds of the forest around—
insect cacophony, elephants in musth.
I have always loved the word rut. A seasonal
glut. The opposite of looking through
a window to a never-ending view of wives
washing dishes in the sink—Simone
de Beauvoir’s idea of the domestic abyss.
But reader, she had silk curtains and chandeliers.
She had multiple lovers and appointments
with Sartre in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
It is dangerous to romanticize anyone’s life,
especially low to purge the nobility of the poor,
so let me not say how much I cried watching
Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchal, especially the part
with the kids running through fields of kash
to watch the train of modernity pass.
More poignant if you know the director’s wife
had to pawn her jewels for the film to be made.
The goodness of some women—
they almost levitate, like the girl in the film,
child of the forest, how she picks thorns from her feet
like stones from rice. And the crone, how I love
the crone. How all this sadness builds like a raga
to bring on rain, which the girl rushes into of course—
ripples of water lilies, darting bugs. How all this joy
leads to death. There are no spare rooms
is the point. In the film, or in real life.
There are no spare rooms so these men
who’ve returned from the city are put in a tree
to quarantine, a tree that strangles its hosts
as it walks. Munificent, shade-giving banyan
that throws down roots as trunks,
in whose leaves God Krishna resides. Krishna,
who talked good game about the temporality
of the body, while so enjoying the body, understood
the material world as one big inverted banyan.
But as we’re stuck in this reflection, why not
enjoy the fruits, why not jump from branch to branch
like a bird? Which these men do, I suppose, stationed
as they are. Their good wives leave supplies at the base—
rice and oil, cooking implements. It goes like this
for days, this story of seven men in a tree, living
through a 21st century pandemic. Men who say
they’re happy not to pass on any bad city virus.
And because the news is so full of counterfeits
and horrors, can we for once not be sceptics?
Forget that the tree is moving, that one day
its phantom limbs will tap against our door.
Until then, can’t we stand by our windows
and stare at all the desolation and sweetness?
Can’t we adore the convoluted roots
of our attachments? How they complete
us. My god, how this living is a hymn.
__________________________________

Tishani Doshi: “Seven migrant men in India were made to quarantine in a tree when they made the long journey back from the city to their village because their houses have no extra rooms. They seemed quite cheerful about it.”

Tishani Doshi is an Indian poet, journalist and dancer based in Chennai.

Born: December 9, 1975 in Madras, India, to a Welsh mother and Gujarati father.

Education: Johns Hopkins University.

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X.P. Callahan

PINK MOUNTAIN


When Joe filled me in on his big plan
to take off for the desert
and spend the days painting vistas of
red rocks, his eyes overflowed
with the marine light that can suffuse
some people as they become
translucent in their long dying. I
hadn’t learned yet to discern
such light. I thought my job was to talk
sense in his hospital room,
his last, with its view of Mount Rainier.

Later my mother called out
to strangers queuing up for a train,
and I knew enough to say
I can’t see them but I know you can.

Late September. Joe had ten
weeks. Seventy times we could have watched
that mountain turn every shade
of desert with the sun going down.

__________________________________

X.P. Callahan: “Kim Addonizio was my first poetry teacher and remains the best. Over the past twelve years, I’ve taken several of her workshops, including an inspiring and liberating class on revision. In person, Kim has an uncanny gift for discerning the heart of an embryonic poem after a single reading and championing the poem’s organic evolution. In an online context, she balances guiding the workshop with making space for participants to forge their own connections. Kim has taught me to see that what I think is on the page may not be there, and to listen for what will speak more fully for being left unsaid. And as a formalist of sorts, I appreciate her evident pleasure in traditional and bespoke forms. I’m grateful that Kim chooses to provide high-quality instruction for post-MFA poets as well as for poets who are altogether outside the MFA system. Kim’s affirmation of poetry as ‘soul work’ invites all of us to adopt a generous, sustainable perspective on our writing.”

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