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A SPATTERING OF PUBLISHED POEMS

September 1, 2012

Here are a few poems that found a home with one or another small press magazine.  The subject matter varies widely, I just picked out some of the ones I like best.  

This one is the first or second poem that was published after I began to write seriously.  It was published in Verve, in 1992 or 1993.

EDUCATION

The wide eyed questing

finding treasures

in moments, wondering

at the magic of breath,

amazed by the wizardry

of dandelions

is schooled now.

We have learned to yawn

at the ticking away

of minutes by the clock on the wall.

We have learned boredom:

how to whine “There’s nothing to do-o-o-o!”

We have learned

dandelions are weeds

which must be eradicated

from every lawn.

***    ***    ***    ***    ***
From youngsters to feeling young.  This one was also published in Verve.  

SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS

In my dreams

I am always young

swim with dolphins

ride under a sun

which never burns

We slide into dances

double spirals

leaps and dives

twist in and out, over and under

slice the water into arcs of light

When sudden darkness descends

hidden reefs rise far from the sight of land

reach out to catch me on jagged hooks

sharp protrusions, malicious intent which

floods me with nightmare visions of

towering storm waves, inky fathoms

where I will fall forever

But the sea here lifts, enfolds

rocks me into crystal blue

green glass waters where

dolphins share the art of breathing

under water, teach songs to call

ships into safe voyages

banish the fear of drowning

It is only when the distant

world of waking calls me

out of this ocean of sleep

I am flung onto the shore of day

gasping for breath

***    ***    ***    ***    ***
This poem was a natural kind of a list poem.  Making a list about something is a good way to inspire yourself to write and sometimes in stead of giving one idea that will have  more depth because of the other ideas the list dredged up, or an outline for a poem with   several connected topics it becomes a poem itself.  So, I was writing with a red pen and
here we are.  This poem was published as part of a local project, which combined a poem with art work mostly done by students at HSU, to put poems on our buses.  As far as I know the various poems are still riding around Humboldt County.  The lines of the published version are longer, as there was a line limit.

WRITING IN RED INK
You can say things

unexpected

Your words will shout

danger !         dance

on every curve

Minus signs

spring up

drag figures

down to drown

in a sea of brilliant

negativity

The color pulls

eyes around

the page:

this is Special

this means

  Something

Look Sharp

Watch Out

We have made

a red letter day

***    ***    ***    ***    ***
One of my proudest moments as a poet was when another poet whose work and advice I respected, Virginia Anderson, asked me to submit a poem to a magazine she was creating.  I believe she published 4 volumes in two years, and I managed to have two poems appear in the magazines, this one in vol. 4 March 2001, the name of the magazine was Daybreak.  The poem was written almost immediately after a conversation with my youngest who was in high school at the time.

MY SON TELLS ME WHY THERE WILL ALWAYS BE WAR

He says: It’s always been this way.
We love the hot smell of life bursting through the skin.
We dreamed the sound of stones hitting skulls,
the thrill of the bone club reverberating up our arms singing of
  the hit.
We dreamed of new weapons: flakes of stone with cutting edges,
  worked bone, fashioned metal, metal molten, molded, hardened,
  honed, keen edges with a lust to slice through living flesh.
We dreamed of projectiles, faster, sharper, larger, missiles, bombs to
  explode and pay us with casualties in numbers we could not dream.
We dreamed of being King of the Hill.
We love our games–
and this is such an exciting game–
why would we want to give it up.

***    ***    ***    ***    ***

Here is one of my most recently published poems.  It appeared in the HSU literary magazine maybe in 2009.  I wrote it after seeing a program about Amelia Earhart and at the end of the piece the narrator expressed the expectation that she and/or her plane would soon be found.  For some reason, I objected.  

INTO THE MORNING

Amelia Earhart,

may you never be found.

May the pieces of your plane

remain missing,

a mystery.

Women everywhere whisper your name

weave prayers for you, folded airplanes of thought

tossed into the wind of their dreams at dawn.

Someday we, too,

may fly off into the morning

wing our way forever

into the light.

***    ***    ***    ***    ***
This poem appeared in 51% and later won 2nd place in a local contest.  As a result I was able to read it on a local radio station, and talk about it a bit.  I took a creative writing course in my early 20’s, most of the students were my age or a little older,  but one was a middle aged woman, and I suppose she must have been quite a good writer, because her piece stuck in my mind, so that in my 50’s I had not forgotten her sad tale.

WHY I DROPPED THE CLASS

At night the buses only run
out Western Avenue, then I
have to walk past the park, cross
Madison Avenue, and it’s still two
more blocks to get home.  Each treacherous
step on a winter night freezes my mind;
thoughts numb with darkness,
the bitter wind grabbing at me
hurrying me with warnings of
ice underfoot.
                       That, and the woman
who writes about her husband:
how he has become an iron weight
pressing the air out of her, squeezing
her life flat beneath him in their
conjugal bed night after night, she remembering
how light he once felt, when love
uplifted him.
                    Thirty years later I’m still not sure
which was the real reason, which more terrifying:
that long cold walk full of echoing footsteps
always watching the shadows where
lurking nightmares might run ice through my veins;
or the thought that love could seep away
beneath some man’s eternal weight–
fears of freezing or gasping for breath
becoming locked in ice or stone.

***    ***    ***    ***    ****

While I had chosen another six poems that have been published, and left at least as many from the files I went through for another time–and still others–but never mind.  Enough.  And so, here’s one for my husband.  This one was published in the 2002, Vol 4 issue of CQ, the magazine of the California Poetry Society.  I wrote this, felt it was complete, worked on it a bit for a couple of days and sent it out.  Most poems don’t get finished that quickly.

TWO NIGHT POEMS
 
I
Too late.
Too tired.
Goodnight. Goodnight!
Words become swords:

cut my eyes.
My ears melt shut;
I sink into the page,
disappear between the lines:
my breath vanishes
syllable by
            syllable–
Shhhh–
finger to my lips:
blind
            deaf
                        dumb
I will pass this night
in sleep like death
with no dreams.
 
II
only the rise and fall
of your chest against my back
the wonder of your warmth
how my skin melts
and yours
until
we merge, floating together
dreams intertwined
 
only the soft percussion
of the rain over our head
a staccato dance
to strike sparks
through the night
against this consuming dark
 
anchor me to this world
 

^^^     ^^^     ^^^      ^^^

 

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2 Comments
  1. How wonderful! Thought provoking, provocative. Maybe I like “Why I Dropped the Class” best, but Swimming with Dolphins is intriguing, too.

  2. No reply yet, Aunt Elsie. But looking for your reply gave me the chance to look again at “My Son Tells Me….” which I liked very much and was reminded of today in a conversation with fellow kayakers about why we kill bugs. And also “Into The Morning” which I feel is a great feminist poem that i’d like to share with my girlfriends.

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