Natalie Young is my kind of poet, art director by day, wordsmith by night, a leftie, a mixed blood, a fan of Tom Selleck, purple pototoes and Oscar the Grouch. She also happens to be the founding editor of Sugar House Review, a poetry gem. And although I question her taste for green olives and swiss cheese, I find her poems always absolutely delectable.
On more of a down-note, as the terrible fly-over footage of Puerto Rico’s devastation from Hurricane Maria rolls on, I keep thinking about her monster poems from one of the 2015(?) issues of Rock And Sling. Yes, they are about the personified Great Salt Lake, but the lonely orphan “island” felt like PR.
Anyway, I can only give you one of the monster poems (from her own website), but I’m throwing in three more on other “alien” subjects from their various online homes.
THE GREAT SALT LAKE HAS BEEN SHRINKING SINCE THE ROUNDING OF THE LAST ICE AGE
The monster has lasted centuries
with little light, in one place.
This lake once spanned hundreds of monsters,
millions of gallons to roam.
Now he has a small city, a village
deep enough to safely travel. He doesn’t mind much,
but wonders about humans and sun.
What will be done when the many things collected
are uncovered? Bones and rings and rocks.
What was lost. Cast off.
The trash of time. He and his house release
only what breathes oxygen or is…
notes on earth life
A child in a pink coat leaves her music lesson. Her cheeks match her coat. Her father sells
insurance based on how long an equation expects a person to stay alive.
The old man died. Sometimes humans just die. And you cannot save them.
Sometimes humans do not die, and you cannot save them.
There is a television program about a real human family doing normal earth things—there are
many programs with real people doing what people always do. Humans stop doing what they do
When humans determine an animal is too ill, they…
the mums are always dying
We’re gonna do it easy, but then we’re gonna do the finish rough.
—Tina Turner’s intro to “Proud Mary”
Holding out a bundle of mums
from the grocery store
to offset a bad day,
She tells the alien how hard it is
to remember everything, every day to do
every thing, how proud she feels
to have shopped and gathered
so much, saved
dollars with coupons and…
bird of war
Today let’s talk about the bird who wages his own war.
He flutters shades of late summer: cloudless sky, cornfields,
early-morning sun, asphalt.
He clangs his black beak against his cage in rapid fire, hurls
steel bowl to ground, a landmine of fruity pellets. His head full
of mischief juts to the hum of vacuum erasing siege.
Tomorrow he will…
There is the slightest chill in the air today, and already I am thinking of cranberries, sweaters and fire-side rugs. Here are two colder-weather poems by Molly Peacock & Jill Osier with bonus audio files.
The best thing about a hand-made pattern
is the flaw.
Sooner or later in a hand-loomed rug,
among the squares and flattened triangles,
a little red nub might soar above a blue field,
or a purple cross might sneak in between
the neat ochre teeth of the border.
The flaw we live by, the wrong color floss,
now wreathes among the uniform strands…
by Jill Osier
Today I find lowbush cranberries edging the yard. Full ripe,
they lie secret as gems among broken twigs and leaves blown down.
I pick two generous handfuls. There may be more. You told me
the story of Jupiter once. How when Voyager passed by one of its moons,
it recorded something like ten volcanic eruptions. Scientists reasoned
that if at random they found ten, the place must be breaking all the time.
They looked closer, and they were right. It is later and I’m home and I stand….
#2sDayPoems, Alice Walker, Andrea Cohen, blue bowls, Cherries, Daily Painter, flash fiction, Fourway Books, Furst Not Mine, Graywolf Press, Jane Kenyon, Kathy Wochele, New England, Orion, Poetry Foundation, Southern, women painters, Women writers
Today’s picks are from New England masters, and are poems short in length but long on symbolism–life (blue bowls), rebirth (cherries) and renewal (robin), to name a few. I also wanted to gift you with a beautiful bit of flash fiction centered around the same symbolism.
BONUS ALERT===> Click Alice Walker’s “My Mother’s Blue Bowl” to read the piece in its entirety. And be sure to check out more work from Daily Painter Kathy Wochele, whose painting “Cherries” is featured above.
THE BLUE BOWL
by Andrea Cohen
In the minute it took
to fetch the blue bowl
from the kitchen
to pick the just-ripe
cherries, the blackbirds
had come. They picked
the branches clean, ascending
into their own blue bowl.
Lacking wings, I…
I recently ran across this image of Mount Airy, NC’s Big Apple Cow in flickr wonderland. Hope Bill doesn’t mind the link. It made me think of a poem I’d seen on Poetry Out Loud in April, which led me back to another poem from Poetry mag (June 2014), which ended in this interesting but somewhat rambling post. There are apples and cows and interior/American landscapes. Well, just read the post.
[ Use the links for full text, author bio and collection info.]
IN A LANDSCAPE: I
by John Gallaher
TO LIVE WITH A LANDSCAPE
The phenomenal poets Anne Sexton & Ellen Bass bring two different views on the much-loved, summer favorite:
Oysters we ate,
sweet blue babies,
twelve eyes looked up at me,
running with lemon and Tabasco.
I was afraid to eat this father-food
and Father laughed and
drank down his martini,
clear as tears.
It was a soft medicine
that came from the sea into my mouth,
moist and plump.
It went down like a large pudding.
Then I ate one o’clock and two o’clock.
Then I laughed and then we laughed
and let me take note –
there was a…
by Ellen Bass
Who would believe in reincarnation
if she thought she would return as
an oyster? Eagles and wolves
are popular. Even domesticated cats
have their appeal. It’s not terribly distressing
to imagine being Missy, nibbling
kibble and lounging on the windowsill.
But I doubt the toothsome oyster has ever
been the totem of any shaman
fanning the Motherpeace Tarot
or smudging with sage.
Yet perhaps we could do worse
than aspire to be a plump bivalve. Humbly,
the oyster persists in….
Two prolific poets approach ‘house’ through different doors:
THE BUILDER OF HOUSES
What was the blond child building
Down by the pond at near-dark
When the trees had lost their gilding
And the giant shadows stepped
To the water’s edge, then stopped?
With intent fingers, doing a boy’s work
In a boy”s old sweater
She hammered against her dear world’s dirty weather.
Proud of her first house
Which boasted an orange-crate ceiling
A pillow, a stuffed mouse…
FULL TEXT HERE
from Poetry, Oct. 1958
AN HOUR IS NOT A HOUSE
An hour is not a house,
a life is not a house,
you do not go through them as if
they were doors to another.
Yet an hour can have shape and proportion,
four walls, a ceiling
An hour can be dropped like a glass….
FULL TEXT HERE
from Poetry, Apr. 2013
Bonus tidbit: Hirshfield on The Art of the Metaphor (TED talk)
–for R. Davis
I try to see the sunshine in
the trees and not the bugs.
I try to leave no scars,
but lately I feel my body
is becoming one. Ugly
enough to some, but a sign
to me that I am living as
fully as a soul can live.
Where I go next, I enter
raw, as the moon enters
nightly. I think I can hear
the angels in the Holy City
singing. They sound like
lovely birds. I think this
boatman has now become a
captain. I mount my horse.
“ Poetry, above all, is a series of intense moments – its power is not in narrative. I’m not dealing with facts, I’m dealing with emotion.” –Carol Ann Duffy
When did your name
change from a proper noun
to a charm?
Its three vowels
on the thread of my breath.
brushing my mouth
like a kiss.
I love your name.
I say it again and again
in this summer rain.
I see it…
from The World’s Wife
LITTLE RED CAP
At childhood’s end, the houses petered out
into playing fields, the factory, allotments
kept, like mistresses, by kneeling married men,
the silent railway line, the hermit’s caravan,
till you came at last to the edge of the woods.
It was there that I first clapped eyes on the wolf.
He stood in a clearing, reading his verse out loud
in his wolfy drawl, a paperback in his hairy paw,
red wine staining his bearded jaw. What big ears
he had! What big eyes he had! What teeth!
In the interval, I made quite sure he spotted me,
sweet sixteen, never been, babe, waif, and bought me a drink…
#ReadWomen2014, 2sDay Poems, Academy of American Poets, Alice Friman, Body of this Death, British Poets, Carol Ann Duffy, Carvaggio, Chris Wauchop, feminist poets, finger tats, Frederick Sandys, giveaway, Louise Bogan, Medusa Poems, Melissa Dickson, Modern American Poetry, Negative Capability Press, Patricia Smith, Poetry magazine, slam poets, Sweet Aegis, Sylvia Plath, The World's Wife, women poets
One of my favorite finds from National Poetry Month is Negative Capability author Melissa Dickson’s SweetAegis:Medusa Poems. Enjoy Medusa’s Dilemma (and a bonus poem over on the Dead Mule blog. ) Here’s a link to an interview about the collection.
Louise Bogan’s darker Medusa is from Poetry’s archives. The full collection Body of this Death (1923) is available as a FREE download in several formats at archive.org. Find out more about Bogan’s life and career at Modern American Poetry.
Carol Ann Duffy’s Medusa is part of The World’s Wife collection and is widely studied in Secondary Schools in the UK. A brief bio from the British Council. Hear her speak on her fairytale/mythological characters in an hour-long Reflections Of The Poet Laureate lecture.
***Have a Medusa poem of your own or admire that of another poet? Post in the comments for a chance to win a set of handmade bookmarks with fairytale/mythological themes.