The stark imagery of William Fargason’s “Porcelain Nocturne” carries the weight of fragility, which is an underlying theme in this Spring Quarterly collection of poems. This was not a theme we promoted or asked for from our submitters, yet the melancholy of the times procured its own theme. Fortunately, fragility often calls upon resilience, and these poems share that as well. Fargason writes: Here, it always rains. No matter. And he continues with the evocative imagery of sharing an umbrella, branches of a tree, light from the moon. Then he imagines (inviting the reader to join in) the moon as a tiger, how it will be shaped from glazed ceramic, how we will add another stripe.
Given the current landscape of what we read and are faced with daily, it’s not surprising that poetry is yielding such consideration and concern. Poetry is sacred ground for our empathy, keeps us company below the surface of such rumblings. We are each engaging in our own way, whether in the forefront or behind the scenes, and the universal me too is being heard.
Several of these poems turn to nature as metaphor for resilience, such as Fred Marchant’s “The Migrants.” Here, a migrant happens upon dry myrtle along the side of the road and a ground that seemed soft enough to sleep on, gratefully accepting that There will be at least this much tonight. Cindy Veach’s “Psalm at Sixty” turns to the abandoned nest to remind herself Of every bird,/all throat and call/refusing to be silenced. And Kaela McNeil is gathering the feathers, the baby bird bones, makes a mask, a roost to carry her little crows in.
Continuing this progression, a father and son are watching the slow, far wavering/of things disappearing from the world as fog rolls in “Absence” by Jim Nawrocki. This poem reflects upon a quiet resolve of life, of what comes, and leaves such as the wind’s current in the father’s hair, in the folds of his shirt that examines and then leaves him. It recognizes our place in this force we call life. As readers, we are left with a sense of solitude within these moments of contemplation, that is and isn’t our own. Of course, what would contemplation be without the nagging interruption of a fly? – Even, the eater of flesh in Hyejung Kook’s “Blue Fly” is deserving of care and examination: Honor to you/vital decomposer…
I want only/to die at the exact depth as you, writes Marjorie Thomsen in “To An Old Shipwreck.” How poignant to feel the burden of a vessel, sunk, and still to see its lightness in being gauzy, delicate, with unmatched blessitude even as the poem opens: You said shipwrecked was a verb/ you needed to be. It is with this same lightness that JP Howard would Say I love you, even when you can’t love yourself, as she does, along with thirty other incantations in “What to Say to a Friend Who Wants to Give Up.”
With the tenderness of bruised fruit, “Tangerine Trees & Little Bags of Sugar” shares a story of a mother teaching her child about gratitude through the remembrance of and depiction of the delicate balance of survival, of determination, of thriving, a sweetness you can only get from sugar & sweat.
Even artificial intelligence, the most contemporary of subjects, can’t ignore the vitality of nature. Ernesto Abeytia’s “My Lover is a Robot” juxtaposes a droning generator, a steel smile full of gnash against a hedgerow of azaleas. There is no stopping the resilience of nature. For all its fragility, it’s a source to be reckoned with. And despite our advanced technology, Abeytia believes we must never forget about the blooming springtime bulbs.
We invite you to read these intelligent and thoughtful poems, embrace your fragility with grace and honor your strength with resilience.
We had the pleasure of asking one of our p2g contributors, Jennifer Martelli, a handful of questions about her two featured poems, “Pachydermianism” and “Miss Ice River.” The benefit of such opportunities is the peek into a poet’s mind, providing an understanding of how and why a poem becomes a poem.
“Miss Ice River” was a gift, Jennifer says, a rare occurrence for a poet.
A self-acclaimed “superstitious atheist,” she addresses her thoughts on religion in “Pachydermianism.”
Read more about Jennifer’s process of writing here.
My last blog spoke of the metaphor of poetry icicles. Living in a northeastern state, we get plenty of icicles, and finding an association of them to poetry helped me tolerate the frigid temperatures we were having.
These last few days I’ve been lucky (and warm) in Tempe, AZ, having accompanied my husband on a conference he’s attending. Even luckier, I get to hang out with his cousin Sarah, a kindred spirit, who lives in nearby Scottsdale.
Yesterday, after climbing the double diamond Echo Trail on Camelback Mountain, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to her favorite coffee house, Sip Coffee and Beer House. There I met the barista, Kelsey, who also writes poetry. She was super enthusiastic upon hearing of poems2go, and more than willing to host our humble bin of poems.
A friend of Sarah’s, Jennifer Kahtz, joined us, and we talked of poetry and soul. Jen established a marketing company, Emotive Pull Communications, that places emphasis on the soul of a product. She passionately believes that if you find the emotional connection between the product and the consumer, there will be an attraction that will ultimately lead to a successful business. Jen likened her philosophy to poetry, essentially saying that poetry has a soul, and people desire more of this.
I share this with you because it’s another example of why poets and poetry are essential, and that we need to keep producing. We may not make money on our product of poetry (though Jen says we can and should) but we can at least feel good about contributing to the world in meaningful ways, and that is, as they say, priceless.
The holidays have a way of thawing memories. For me, it’s often the playful days of my childhood that warm me. I was fascinated, back then, by the dagger-like icicles that hung from our roof, growing thicker, longer and more opaque with each cold day. My best friend and I shaped thrones and crowns from snow and bejeweled them with broken icicles that fell and fragmented. And we’d compete to acquire the biggest and best icicle to become our scepter. This meant hanging out from the second-story window to find the largest icicle within a torso’s reach, and to break it off from the roof’s edge while keeping ourselves from falling, the icicle intact.
But that was not all we did with icicles. Our most delicious invention was using them as a “Fun Dip.” We poured Jello mix in a bowl, dipped a hand-sized icicle into it, then licked the sugar off. This would entertain us, with our red or purple stained mouths, for hours.
I remember the intrigue, as the icicle would stick to my gloved hand, then glisten as it began to melt from my handling of it. The distortion and disappearance of its solidness were sad, though I knew it was simply returning to its original form. Now I realize I was witnessing the organic nature of elements, which, in an obscure way, brings me to our theme for this Winter Quarterly.
Poetry is like an icicle–refractive, and capable of presenting in solid form what is elemental and basic to our survival. It reinvents our thinking and understanding. The icicles of my childhood sustained me on many winter days,
This collection of poetry demonstrates poetry’s reinvention and ability to sustain our senses in an ever-changing world. Sean Lause’s “the gift” tells us through the eyes of a child about the power of observation. As does the dog in Susan Cavanaugh’s “Watch Dog” who steps gingerly around leaves on the pavement baked into the shape/of cupped hands. Poetry garners a simple observation and carries it through a realm of rediscovery. Tara Betts knows of the Hidden possibilities cradled in palms that a simple domino holds.
Clarissa Adkins’s “Nature Hike at Ship Harbor Nature Trail” explores wonderment, the basic element for reinvention, writes of how ferns can soften sun/into such a lenient lantern. And then we have “Marquez Night” by Lillo Way that brings us into a yellowish thing that calls itself a summer sky, and leads us through sinking stinking still air, has us listening for a ghost voice calling like a manatee mother to her missing children.
Poetry not only reinvents, it also rediscovers, reveals, reclaims, relives, and rejoices.
We invite you to enjoy this winter’s poetry icicles, and to revel in their meltings.
Christine and Sarah
Chandler Burke, owner of the very cool Bula Kafe Kava Bar and Coffeehouse in St. Pete , FL has asked to host our humble little bin of poems.
(Albert Wisner Public Library)
And in New York, contributor Nate Pritts has found a home for p2g at The Visual Studies Workshop, and contributor Mary Makofske has found multiple homes at Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe, and Albert Wisner Public Library, in Warwick, NY as well as The Milkweed Gallery in Sugar Loaf, NY.
With this printing of the Winter Quarterly, we distributed 5,400 poems! How’s that for spreading the love? Thank you Chandler, Nate, and Mary, and to all of our hosts and ambassadors.
With much gratitude,
Christine and Sarah
by Sarah Kirstine Lain, Poems2go Assistant Editor
The P2G Winter Quarterly is here! When Poems2go’s founder, Christine Jones, and I were discussing potential themes for the P2G Winter Quarterly, the idea of reinvention spoke to us both. I think of phrases like reinventing the wheel and nothing new under the sun. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of reinvention is referenced in the March 1719 issue of the Weekly Medley: An Art now so long lost, its Loss so lamented, and its re-invention so much coveted. This concept is closest to my consciousness, though not without consideration to the former idioms. To me, poetry offers a space for reinvention like none other: word into image into idea into social reform into conversation with another poem, law, art form, technology, etc.
Recently, I have been meditating on André Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism, particularly this thought: “I would plunge into [art], convinced that I would find my way again, in a maze of lines which at first glance would seem to be going nowhere. And, upon opening my eyes, I would get the very strong impression of something never seen.” As poets, what is the secret sauce in the cosmic hallucination art supper that leads to envisioning futures that can reshape landscapes of human freedom? How do we reinvent the tools that reinvent the wheel? Or perhaps, on a less epic and more anchored level: how does a writer take the stuckness of road construction on a morning commute, and during the delay, imagine the driver that led her there as the Future Princess of New Fruit in a Multiverse of Non-atomic Pink Matter? I don’t know how everyone else does this stuff, but for me it takes a poem.
In the coming months, we’ll be highlighting ways in which poets address reinvention in this issue of Poems2go. We’re thrilled to share work by poets Tara Betts, Clarissa Adkins, Jennifer Martelli, Panika M.C. Dillon, Wendy Drexler, Mary Makofske, Susan Cavanaugh, Lillo Way, Sean Lause, and Mary Makofske. For starters, Jennifer Martelli’s Pachydermianism turns an elephant’s forehead into a gray sky with a blue diamond in it, and then immediately there is no diamond! First, the elephant is Asian, and then it may be African, etc. All of this is reinventing matter in the course of a few lines, and then – The diamond may be a diamond formed by squeezing coal for a million years or formed by a child’s / pointer fingers and thumbs touching. Suddenly, a diamond is no longer an elaboration of an elephant’s forehead; instead it is the work of a child. The concept of Pachydermianism (a genetic disorder causing the skin to thicken) grows so imagistically complex in its capacity to foster simultaneous emotions, not for a diamond or an elephant, but for the child’s pointer fingers and thumbs touching in order to produce what can be worn for another’s elegance.
In Panika M. C. Dillon’s playful beware the feather boas, the speaker’s hair is a room where the reader can try on clothes and pull out loose change, enter it into a gumball machine and pull out a tongue. An absurdist image like this gives space for multiple interpretations, but what it accomplishes beyond that is its ability to take something as everyday and visceral as hair, and turn it into some respun C.S. Lewis wardrobe with a creepy gumball-tongue twist at the end. Similarly, in Mary Makofske’s In the Braille Garden, a blind person experiences a garden through braille, where roses have fangs; the twigs of burning bushes are winged, and a lamb’s ears are furred leaves. We can enter into these images, though we’ve never seen them before, and isn’t that integral to the blind experience?
I am asking: can we consider the substance of poetic work by writing what we witness through a lens of what we have never seen? What is more real: the brown freckles I see on my hand while typing this or the pink octopus-shaped beauty mole I see on my imaginary enthroned head while typing this? I think of Salvador Dalí, who achieved reinvention in so many ways. He claimed that he liked to sleep with intense light on to reshape his dreams. Consider some of the titles of his art: A Shattering Entrance to the USA, The Laser Unicorn Disintegrates the Horns of the Cosmic Rhinoceros, or one of my favorites – Martian Dali Equipped with a Double Holoelectronic Microscope. None of that exists! – or it didn’t, but it does now. Dalí’s art has reimagined my own aesthetic, dreamscape, and so on. In the same way, may these poems provide intense light for a deeply necessary reinvention.
Poems2go editors Christine and Sarah had an opportunity to present Kevin McLellan with questions we had as poets, and as editors, regarding his p2g featured poem “Dear Canaries” and his views on contemporary poetry.
Go to our new Interviews tab on the main menu of our website to read his answers, and learn more about one of today’s stellar poets.
More of Kevin’s poetry, click here for his website.