POEM: Windows

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“Windows”

In the neverending heat of a South Florida childhood with no other season except Hurricane, I dreamt of snow, of patting down snowballs into hard spheres to throw at my compatriots from behind white walls guarded by coal-eyed snowmen sniffing out trouble with carrot noses. Snow angels hovered in my dreams, bright shapes made real by throwing myself into clouds of frozen heaven dust upon waking to a Florida morning that never came.

Now, my dreams come true on this Ohio dawn, with the first snow drifting outside my bedroom window frosting trees like cupcakes, the ground ever more white, as though Thor dusted dandruff from his beard to coat the world. The flakes fall heavier, thick pale globes, hiding the grass, the trees, the warm gifts my dogs leave on the lawn like offerings to winter gods. In the snow, everything becomes new and beautiful.

Inside my house, my heater hums comfort. I snuggle under warm quilts.

I wonder if those without windows share my joy.

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com.

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BOOK REVIEW: Little Epiphanies by Allison Joseph

Allison Joseph’s poetry collection, Little Epiphanies, is a lovely book.

Her tightly structured and orderly poems eloquently comment on everything from everyday clutter (“Little Epiphanies”) to our fellow mammals (“Ode to the Naked Mole Rat”). Yet she also skillfully uses iambic pentameter to poke fun at strict poetry format in “Sonnet for a Good Mood:”

“How funky can I be in fourteen lines;
how thick a groove can I lay down right here?
How bad can my ass be in these confines–
ten syllables each time seems so severe.”

On the next page, in “A Prayer for Women’s Bodies,” she smoothly transitions to more serious matters, honoring the imperfections that society would have us camouflage or hide:

“…love handles no longer

maligned, each waist its own territory,
own beloved landscape of bruise
or bone, wrinkle or fat. Let us honor
bone, whether porous or pointy,

shattered or submerged, hardworking
scaffolding holding us up when gravity
and graves could sink us down,…”

In fact, what amazes me most about this collection is that the subject matter is so varied while still fitting together well. She makes observations about racism in “Sundown Ghazal”, about Afro hairstyles as statements of black empowerment in “Thirty Lines about the Fro,” and her wandering pen touches on more mundane subjects like public transportation with equal parts observation and insight.

I recommend Little Epiphanies for poetry lovers everywhere.

 

POEM: Mindfulness

“Mindfulness”

the swish of my skirt’s soft fabric
against my ankles
black translucent cloth flowing behind
threads catch upon the rough concrete
as my uneven gait
from old worn sandals
clips and slides along the sidewalk

a cool breeze
softly strokes my hair
like a lover’s caress

my dark reflection
moves aside as the door swings slowly
open, then closes

Does that other me follow me inside with her dark gaze?

 

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Saturday, November 10th, the Massillon Library’s Local Author Fair will feature several Ohio authors between 11am and 2pm. I will be reading from my work about 11:30. Please stop by and find out about the writers in your community. I hope to see you there!

*image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.Net via Creative Commons License.

 

POEM: Elegy for the Circus

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“ELEGY FOR THE CIRCUS”

 

No more clowns, corpse-white skin,

blackened eyes, and red leaking lips,

to frighten infants with ludicrous stunts

and thickly painted cracked faces

 

No more weeping elephants, tears cutting lines in rough skin

No more grey-skinned babes separated from mourning mothers

 

No more tigers pacing cages too small for predators meant to run,

to race, to track down prey, to rip flesh between their teeth

 

No more lions teased with the heads of their masters

thrust into hungry mouths, teased with the illusion

of freedom and a hot meal with a beating heart

 

No more X-square feet per animal, less than zoo standards,

less than any wild beast was meant to live in, to pace in, to die in,

 

No more creatures forced to perform

before children dripping ice cream and disinterest

 

 

 

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For those of you fortunate enough to live in Northeast Ohio, there are two writing events tomorrow (October 13th) in the Cleveland area.

Literary Cleveland’s October Poetry workshop takes place from 10:30-12:30 at the Cleveland Main Library, led by poet Kisha Nicole Foster.

Indie Author Conference and Showcase takes place from 10am- 4pm at the Cuyahoga County Library’s Parma-Snow branch.

Both events are free, which is INCREDIBLE. I’ve attended both events at different times in the past and readily vouch for how inspiring and helpful both are. Unfortunately, they overlap, so you will need to choose which event you want to attend this year.

If you can take advantage of these events, please do so. They are well worth the drive!

 

*It should come as no surprise that I’m not a fan of circuses, and so this prompt from last year’s National Poetry Writing Month really inspired me.

**image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net via Creative Commons License

BOOK REVIEW: Hard to Swallow by Pat & Bill Hurley

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Hard to Swallow by Pat & Bill Hurley is a beautiful collection of poetry.

The couple were married just weeks before Bill was diagnosed with cancer. The poems are arranged as a conversation between the husband and wife, with his poems in italics while hers are not. As he did not want to read any poems with angst, some of her poems were never seen by her husband; instead, they appear here as complimentary thoughts on their marriage and the experiences they shared in their short time together. She expresses her worry about his health, her admiration for his courage, and her despair of living without him. Some of her admissions are startling as well as moving.

From “Jealous”

OK, I’ll admit it.

I’m jealous of the cancer.

Ever since she moved in,

She’s had you breathless

He writes of his changing body and how he centers himself through meditation and the contemplation of labyrinths. He also writes of his love for her.

From “March 24, 2016”

…Perhaps angels are the nearest things to our souls, and

as such, are our closest companions to that which is divine.

Although it’s heartbreaking they only had a short time together, this book is a beautiful testament to living life to the fullest and appreciating every moment.

POEM: I Remember

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I Remember

 

Seventeen years ago

the world changed

 

my world changed

 

Seventeen years ago

I held my infant son in my arms

as I watched the buildings burn

across every channel

 

as I watched the planes

hit the towers again

and again

and again

 

as I watched the billowing black smoke

the ash of the fallen

of the thrown

of the incinerated

 

of those who threw

their own lives away

to snatch the lives of innocents

for the crime working in a country they hated

 

I remember watching footage

on tv of people in foreign lands

dancing and cheering at the news of so many lives lost

and wondering why

 

I remember watching the face

of the child in my arms

and wondering

what kind of world he would live in

 

the same wondering I felt

when I had watched the news days after his birth

the news of the newborn babe found in a dumpster

his life thrown away

 

the same wondering I felt

when a gunman shot up kindergartners

looking forward to Christmas parties

and frosted glittery cupcakes

 

the same wondering I felt

when students shot up their high school,

then themselves, shooting

for simultaneous oblivion and notoriety

 

the same wondering I felt

when Batman fans died

crouching on floors and hiding behind seats

for the sin of making it to opening night

 

the same wondering I felt

when a middle schooler one district over

shot himself in his school’s bathroom,

imagining his blood splattered on floors and walls

 

the same wondering I felt

when a couple from my son’s own high school

shot themselves in the woods outside his friend’s home

not ten minutes away

 

the same wondering I felt

when I thought of those other families,

of the victims, heroes, loved ones,

of children growing up without mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers

 

the same wondering I feel

when I think how easily it could be me

 

 

 

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons license

**The above poem is dedicated to the families and victims of September 11th, as well as the victims of violence around the world throughout the years. May your loved ones never be forgotten. May you always be safe and free.

 

 

Announcement: My Poetry Collection, Soul Picked Clean

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I am incredibly honored to announce that my first book of poetry, Soul Picked Clean, will be published by Crisis Chronicles Press in early 2019!

Crisis Chronicles Press was founded by John Burroughs in 2008. They’ve published writers from all over the world, in every continent except Antarctica, and from time to time give special emphasis to great Ohio poets. Crisis Chronicles recently published their 100th title.

I will also be appearing at the Massillon Library Local Author Fair on Saturday, November 10th from 1030am – 1pm. I will post updates about the book and future readings as information becomes available. Thank you!