Poem of Yard Work, with Confederate Jasmine

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
We drag to the curb for bulk
waste pickup the limbs and branches

shorn off the confederate jasmine
at the end of the yard: they'd bent

too far over the neighbor's fence,
they might be felled by wind or

rain and cause unwanted damage
to others' property. We don

garden gloves just to be sure
there's no skin contact with

its milky, rubbery sap. After
effort, the skin cools as sweat 

dries; and any clustered blooms
among the debris soon shrivel

in high heat. So far from Asia,
where other names for it are star

jasmine and trader's compass, here
in the North American south I can't

think of it now except for its
association with that history

of civil war. Seven slave-
holding states against the Union,

their plantation economies dependent
on the labor of dark slave bodies;

Fire-Eaters whose cornerstone
beliefs were based on the idea

that subordination to the white
man is the black race's God-

ordained, natural condition.
I too would have been indentured

at that time; or made to suckle
my master's white child like a cow

with a teat full of milk. When I crush
a sprig in my brown hands, a faint

perfume still rises from out
of the lanceolate leaves: fetid note

from history our pruning still
hasn't managed to extinguish.


Fire hazard

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and to my chamber doing several things there of moment, and then comes Sympson, the Joyner; and he and I with great pains contriving presses to put my books up in: they now growing numerous, and lying one upon another on my chairs, I lose the use to avoyde the trouble of removing them, when I would open a book.
Thence out to the Excise office about business, and then homewards met Colvill, who tells me he hath 1000l. ready for me upon a tally; which pleases me, and yet I know not now what to do with it, having already as much money as is fit for me to have in the house, but I will have it. I did also meet Alderman Backewell, who tells me of the hard usage he now finds from Mr. Fen, in not getting him a bill or two paid, now that he can be no more usefull to him; telling me that what by his being abroad and Shaw’s death he hath lost the ball, but that he doubts not to come to give a kicke at it still, and then he shall be wiser and keepe it while he hath it. But he says he hath a good master, the King, who will not suffer him to be undone, as otherwise he must have been, and I believe him.
So home and to dinner, where I confess, reflecting upon the ease and plenty that I live in, of money, goods, servants, honour, every thing, I could not but with hearty thanks to Almighty God ejaculate my thanks to Him while I was at dinner, to myself.
After dinner to the office and there till five or six o’clock, and then by coach to St. James’s and there with Sir W. Coventry and Sir G. Downing to take the ayre in the Parke. All full of expectation of the fleete’s engagement, but it is not yet. Sir W. Coventry says they are eighty-nine men-of-warr, but one fifth-rate, and that, the Sweepstakes, which carries forty guns. They are most infinitely manned. He tells me the Loyall London, Sir J. Smith (which, by the way, he commends to be the-best ship in the world, large and small), hath above eight hundred men; and moreover takes notice, which is worth notice, that the fleete hath lane now near fourteen days without any demand for a farthingworth of any thing of any kind, but only to get men. He also observes, that with this excesse of men, nevertheless, they have thought fit to leave behind them sixteen ships, which they have robbed of their men, which certainly might have been manned, and they been serviceable in the fight, and yet the fleete well-manned, according to the excesse of supernumeraries, which we hear they have. At least two or three of them might have been left manned, and sent away with the Gottenburgh ships.
They conclude this to be much the best fleete, for force of guns, greatnesse and number of ships and men, that ever England did see; being, as Sir W. Coventry reckons, besides those left behind, eighty-nine men of warr and twenty fire-ships, though we cannot hear that they have with them above eighteen.
The French are not yet joined with the Dutch, which do dissatisfy the Hollanders, and if they should have a defeat, will undo De Witt; the people generally of Holland do hate this league with France.
We cannot think of any business, but lie big with expectation of the issue of this fight, but do conclude that, this fight being over, we shall be able to see the whole issue of the warr, good or bad.
So homeward, and walked over the Parke (St. James’s) with Sir G. Downing, and at White Hall took a coach; and there to supper with much pleasure and to bed.

my books grow numerous
lying one upon another
about the house

but I will get more
they are sweepstakes
they are infinite ships

they might be the best fire
with which to see


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 23 July 1666.

Homeland

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Up, and to my chamber, and there till noon mighty busy, setting money matters and other things of mighty moment to rights to the great content of my mind, I finding that accounts but a little let go can never be put in order by strangers, for I cannot without much difficulty do it myself. After dinner to them again till about four o’clock and then walked to White Hall, where saw nobody almost but walked up and down with Hugh May, who is a very ingenious man. Among other things, discoursing of the present fashion of gardens to make them plain, that we have the best walks of gravell in the world, France having no nor Italy; and our green of our bowling allies is better than any they have. So our business here being ayre, this is the best way, only with a little mixture of statues, or pots, which may be handsome, and so filled with another pot of such and such a flower or greene as the season of the year will bear. And then for flowers, they are best seen in a little plat by themselves; besides, their borders spoil the walks of another garden: and then for fruit, the best way is to have walls built circularly one within another, to the South, on purpose for fruit, and leave the walking garden only for that use.
Thence walked through the House, where most people mighty hush and, methinks, melancholy. I see not a smiling face through the whole Court; and, in my conscience, they are doubtfull of the conduct again of the Generalls, and I pray God they may not make their fears reasonable. Sir Richard Fanshaw is lately dead at Madrid.
Guyland is lately overthrowne wholly in Barbary by the King of Tafiletta. The fleete cannot yet get clear of the River, but expect the first wind to be out, and then to be sure they fight.
The Queene and Maids of Honour are at Tunbridge.

we have the best
grave in the world

green statues
hands filled with fruit

walls built circularly
one within another

to leave only a hush
and make fears reasonable


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 22 July 1666.

Study: Day, Night, Rain

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
I like when it's quiet, 
when the rain has passed

but there's enough water
still coating the leaves

so my face gets drenched
when I walk under them.

I like when the dark
presses on my lids

in a quiet room
after everyone has gone

to sleep, and I like
the sudden flare

that sharpens the contours
of lamps and desks and chairs

when I open my eyes again.
In summer, when night

comes over the town after hours
and hours of steady blazing,

small winged creatures rise
in a frenzy when someone

opens the door. I've seen
them: some with wings and bodies

as if pieced together from
squares: white, orange, bright

yellow. Each one outlined as if
in kohl, or soldered by night.


 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Folk Remedies

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Ashes from 
the burned skin
a reptile shed,
dissolved in water
to cure wheezing.
Your very first
period blood
applied
like a light
facial mask,
to ward off
pimples and
zits. A smear
of saliva
on hand or foot
to calm the pins
and needles—
because the soul
is so susceptible
to any tremor
that disturbs
its homeostasis:
an egg,
rice grains,
or melted tallow
dropped into
a bowl of water.
See what floats,
what sinks
to the bottom.
See where the red
membrane reappears
after you drink
it all up.

Embodied

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up and to the office, where all the morning sitting. At noon walked in the garden with Commissioner Pett (newly come to towne), who tells me how infinite the disorders are among the commanders and all officers of the fleete. No discipline: nothing but swearing and cursing, and every body doing what they please; and the Generalls, understanding no better, suffer it, to the reproaching of this Board, or whoever it will be. He himself hath been challenged twice to the field, or something as good, by Sir Edward Spragge and Captain Seymour. He tells me that captains carry, for all the late orders, what men they please; demand and consume what provisions they please. So that he fears, and I do no less, that God Almighty cannot bless us while we keep in this disorder that we are in: he observing to me too, that there is no man of counsel or advice in the fleete; and the truth is, the gentlemen captains will undo us, for they are not to be kept in order, their friends about the King and Duke, and their own house, is so free, that it is not for any person but the Duke himself to have any command over them. He gone I to dinner, and then to the office, where busy all the afternoon. At night walked in the garden with my wife, and so I home to supper and to bed.
Sir W. Pen is gone down to Sheernesse to-day to see things made ready against the fleete shall come in again, which makes Pett mad, and calls him dissembling knave, and that himself takes all the pains and is blamed, while he do nothing but hinder business and takes all the honour of it to himself, and tells me plainly he will fling up his commission rather than bear it.

how infinite is the body
as a field for visions

they are fleet
they are not to be kept
not to command

at night if I go mad
call me up a bear


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 21 July 1666.

Hunger

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
It was midsummer, with the figs starting to come in.
Mornings, she'd go out and walk beneath the laden
branches, a plastic bowl in one hand. It took a few
moments to adjust to the latticed light, the
overlapping shadows that the broad leaves made.
Then she could make out the deep purple globes,
how they looked like light bulbs; how when ripest,
all it took was a simple twist and they'd fall
into her hand, releasing a drop of milky sap.
Returning in the afternoon, it seemed the fruit
only half-ripe earlier in the day had become ready:
soft to the touch, nearly flayed open to bursting.
Some, already shrines to the steady pilgrimage
of ants. Green to purple, hard-shuttered to
permeable. And still they did not cease.
Rilke said: “A world will come over you, the
happiness, the abundance, the incomprehensible
immensity of a world." But how to give such a world
to those reduced to begging for it in the streets?
One could tuck a whole fig in one's cheek and steal
out of the garden. Green, purple, flesh that the
knife scores and quarters. Hunger that asks again
and again to be filled. Pulled from the branch,
another bursts forth to take its place.

Modes

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and finding by a letter late last night that the fleete is gone, and that Sir W. Pen is ordered to go down to Sheernesse, and finding him ready to go to St. James’s this morning, I was willing to go with him to see how things go, and so with him thither (but no discourse with the Duke), but to White Hall, and there the Duke of York did bid Sir W. Pen to stay to discourse with him and the King about business of the fleete, which troubled me a little, but it was only out of envy, for which I blame myself, having no reason to expect to be called to advise in a matter I understand not.
So I away to Lovett’s, there to see how my picture goes on to be varnished (a fine Crucifix), which will be very fine; and here I saw some fine prints, brought from France by Sir Thomas Crew, who is lately returned. So home, calling at the stationer’s for some paper fit to varnish, and in my way home met with Lovett, to whom I gave it, and he did present me with a varnished staffe, very fine and light to walk with.
So home and to dinner, there coming young Mrs. Daniel and her sister Sarah, and dined with us; and old Mr. Hawly, whose condition pities me, he being forced to turne under parish-clerke at St. Gyles’s, I think at the other end of the towne.
Thence I to the office, where busy all the afternoon, and in the evening with Sir W. Pen, walking with whom in the garden I am of late mighty great, and it is wisdom to continue myself so, for he is of all the men of the office at present most manifestly usefull and best thought of. He and I supped together upon the seat in the garden, and thence, he gone, my wife and Mercer come and walked and sang late, and then home to bed.

in a letter
I go with the discourse
and stay to discourse

in love
I varnish a crucifix
and call it love

in the garden
I am of the garden
and come home


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 20 July 1666.

Poetry Blog Digest 2019: Week 30

Poetry Blogging Network

A personal selection of posts from the Poetry Blogging Network and beyond. Although I tend to quote my favorite bits, please do click through and read the whole posts. This week: anthologies, group projects, public relations, publishing and being published, the “I” persona, the inner critic, journals and diaries, sleep and waking, favorite desks, yoga, meditation, detritus, and time.


I am happy to announce that A Constellation of Kisses has just been published and is available wherever you buy books. I am enormously proud of this anthology. I received a record number of submissions and had to turn away many good poems, but I believe that the 107 I selected give the reader a wonderful variety of poems on the topic of kissing. The collection includes poems about first kisses and final kisses, French kisses, hot kisses, cold kisses, chocolate kisses, wanted and unwanted kisses, forbidden kisses, dangerous kisses, and even dog kisses. There are long poems and short ones, a few in parts, formal poems, prose poems, and free verse poems. You will laugh and you will cry. You will remember your own kisses. And you will want more kisses.

Diane Lockward, A Constellation of Kisses Has Landed on Earth

I also found out last week that I’ll be one of 75 writers included in a new coffee table book from Et Alia Press called Closet Cases: LGBTQI Writers on What We Wear. Writers were asked to submit a photo and essay (or poem) about an article of clothing that inspires us or has become a trademark. The book, edited by Megan Volpert, will be out next year.

Collin Kelley, A reading, a workshop, a nomination & publication news

At our meeting on 1st June, Ann Cullis proposed a project called The June Almanac. The object was to write a short observational piece for each day of the month, avoiding similes and metaphors and the use of the first person. Fourteen of us took part, and later submitted our choice of ten entries, which Ann collated and anonymised. They were read during the morning session by a team of five readers. Later, some of us read a few more entries. They were, on the whole, just as good as the chosen ones. Overall, a very high standard of observation and writing, taking in all the senses, and including notes on weather, human foibles, and activities of birds, animals, insects and  gastropods. Each one was complete in itself, and together they gave a wide-angled view of our lives over the previous month. All the participants enjoyed the process and felt they had benefited from it. We are grateful to Ann for proposing this project and for seeing it through. Below is a photo of the submissions laid out in date order. My June Almanac can be seen here.

The afternoon session of environmental writing was introduced by Peter Reason, starting with a showing of the film “Rise: from one island to another“. Do take a few minutes to watch this film, unplug from your daily distractions, immerse yourself in the beauty of our shared home, and let the poetry heal.

Sue’s presentation (mentioned above) was followed by an unrehearsed ceremony of readings in response to “Rise”. Each reader came to the lectern at what felt the right moment.

After two dear deaths in the past two weeks I was rather emotional, but even without this I think I would still have been moved to tears by many of the readings, and especially by Eileen Cameron’s short poem “A land laid bare”.

Conor Whelan brought the afternoon to a close with a performance from memory of Yeats’s  “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”. The day was a heartfelt sharing of our deepest concerns. As a group we are moving forward into new territory, growing into a deeper knowledge of ourselves and of one another.

Ama Bolton, With Bath Artists and Writers, 20th July

I am doing the unthinkable: changing the name under which I publish. No longer the cumbersome and all-too-common Laura E. Davis, now writing as Laura Desiano. Not married, just using my partner’s name, which is also our son’s surname. I wanted this to be a quick transition, but I realize it’s more like months or years as I eventually publish more work under my new name.

I am okay with distancing myself from my old name. There are thousands of people with my old name and too many are writers. I like the clean sound of my new name. It feels right, and sounds right, and makes searching for me on Google much more straight forward.

At readings I’ll also use this name. Not sure how I will introduce myself. Maybe my last name is less important in person unless it’s a writing connection. Business cards can take care of that.

Laura Desiano, New Name: Laura Desiano

Public relations and poetry are quite separate pursuits, in my mind, yet how else will readers learn that I have another chapbook nearing publication? Yes! Barefoot Girls, a series of 24 poems winnowed from a much longer set, will be appearing in print from Prolific Press later this year.

2021 still seems quite a way off, but perhaps it isn’t too early to mention that my full-length poetry collection The Red Queen Hypothesis will see publication then from  Salmon Poetry, an independent publisher in County Clare, Ireland.

Anticipation! I’m eager to see what the books will look like, eager to know whether anyone will read them, and experiencing that little frisson that comes with waiting for potential delight.

I cannot express how grateful I am to the folks behind small independent literary presses for all they do to keep poems circulating, to publish lesser-known writers, and to promote the literary arts generally. They are not making money from the process; they do it for love. Society benefits. Bless them all and donate to them if you can. But the best way to help small independent presses and publishers is to purchase books from them. Browse Prolific Press’ bookstore here, Salmon Poetry’s poetry book catalog here, and Brick Road Poetry’s books here (scroll down far enough & you’ll see my book Water-Rites, still available). Another small-press venture that has been plugging along for years is Michael Czarnecki’s FootHills Publishing. Two of my chapbooks are available from its website.

Ann E. Michael, Anticipation

Trying to publish poetry can be frustrating not only for those who want to get published but those doing the publishing, who are often underpaid and overworked. Both sides feel underappreciated. And for me, even after over a decade of sending work out, rejection still hurts and feels personal, especially books you think are your best work ever, grants you feel like you have a chance of getting, fellowships, or journals you particularly like. Gardening, on the other hand…if you put a rose or a dahlia or a blueberry or lavender shrub in the ground, you can almost guarantee in the Northwest that they will thrive and bloom and give you blueberries.

In the backyard, the flowers attract a ton of hummingbirds and butterflies, and you just feel the reward of doing work in the past that actually paid off. Sometimes in the poetry world, especially if you don’t have a big deal job with the Poetry Foundation or a tenured teaching job, you can feel a bit…unrewarded, both financially and spiritually. Gardening 100 percent has a better payoff. I planted an apple tree this year, and it will take years until it produced apples, or even shade, but I know I’m making the world a better and almost beautiful place – I mean, I hope my poetry does that too, but I know that planting an apple tree is 100 percent worth the effort.

Of course, as I said early in the post, I am immensely thankful when people review my work or buy a book or publish me. But there is a lot of “no,” almost zero money, and a LOT of effort with no payoff. This is not only true of poetry – almost every successful novelist I know literally wrote a whole book, sent it out for a while, got an agent, sent it out more…and then ended up putting their first book in a drawer and then wrote another book and did the same rigmarole again. (But at least fiction writers have a better chance of getting paid than poets do!)

And becoming an editor or publisher doesn’t guarantee a lot of warm fuzzies – a ton of editors can attest to the hate mail they’ve gotten from angry and entitled rejected writers, and most of them don’t draw much of a salary, if any. I wish I could help build a better place to plant poetry. I wish I could help build a wider audience for the whole art form, help literary magazines get more subscriptions, help writers find their appropriate publishing avenues. I guess we can befriend and encourage other writers, we can give advice or blurbs, we can read and review others, and in that way, we are sort of cultivating the poetry world garden. If we all gave each other more appreciation, less envy and resentment, that would probably help the poetry world bloom.

Maybe the metaphor is cheesy. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time with my flowers. But I always remember the quote from the end of Voltaire’s Candide: “Cultivate your own garden.” I didn’t understand what he meant when I read that advice in high school. But as I get older, I’ve learned to understand that it means that we help create the world we want, that what we plant and what we work for, if we plant good things, maybe we make the world a better place in a small way. We certainly could use more people who care about making the world a better place, one blueberry shrub (or poem or poetry review) at a time.

Jeannine Hall Gailey, Poets in the Park, a Review of Three of my Poems, Poetry Can Feel Like a Losing Game (But Gardens Never Do)

Allison Joseph is a personal hero of mine. Many creative writers focus primarily on their own work and their own careers. Joseph is that exemplary poet and educator who seems to be constantly supporting other writers. Beyond her considerable publication resume, and a staunch commitment to her craft, her bio of community building activities is impressive. And despite her gravitas as poet and professor, she frequently publishes her work with small independent presses. Bravo to that, I say!

Joseph is also that rare contemporary poet who has the talent for writing accomplished and accessible poetry in both free and formal verse. Her collection, my father’s kites (Steel Toe Press, 2010), an almost-chapbook at 56 pages, contains a section of formal sonnets eulogizing her father that I found both courageous and moving, at least in part because I’ve struggled to write about my own father. In an interview with Billy Jenkins at “The Fourth River” Joseph spoke about the difficulty she confronted in writing about her father:  

I found that it was harder to write about my father, who I had a fractured relationship with, than my mother, who died when I was a teenager.  . . . At first it stumped me . . . But it was because his death was  . . . about his life as a black man, the things he faced. His anger was a lot more emblematic. Even the very reason he died, diabetes, is something that affects far more disproportionately, the African American community.

But in this villanelle, “On Not Wanting to Write a Memoir” Joseph reminds us that memory is “insecure” and she circumnavigates the topic of disclosure in this way:  

Some memories lurk deep, in bone and tooth,
with consequences I can do without.
What’s there to write? I had ‘that’ kind of youth.
Forgive me if I don’t tell you the truth.

In another interview I came across online, she adds this intriguing caveat about the “I” persona, which she believes can be used very effectively not only for confession, but also to connect with others,

So the opportunity in a poem for the “I” to fool its own inventor, it’s huge.  …  I think the distance between the fictionalized “I” of my particular poems and the person sitting next to you usually isn’t that far. 

Risa Denenberg, my father’s kites and Corporal Muse, by Allison E. Joseph

I remember the first time I dipped my toes into the publishing world. It was 15 years ago. Excited and terrified, I spent hours online searching for local writing groups and didn’t have much luck finding anything in my rural area. What I found online was an enormous amount of writing groups and forums. At my fingertips, I could share, critique, and learn from writers around the world. It was exhilarating.

I enrolled in many writing workshops and began stretching out of my comfort zone and embracing that I was a creative writer. In no time, I was exploring the world of nonfiction and submitted my work to print magazines and literary sites. It was a period where I learned what it meant to be vulnerable and how to receive (and give) feedback.

We all have limiting beliefs that can hold us back. Our inner critic can tell us a range of false things like we aren’t good enough or experienced enough to write a book or pitch a chapbook to a publisher. It’s important to acknowledge these thoughts, even when they are hurtful, and do whatever we need to keep moving forward.

The more connections I made online, the more opportunities began falling into my lap. I started writing for online websites, and I launched my literary magazine, Eye Candy. Boxes of Eye Candy were delivered on my doorstep every month, and I’d embark on the journey of distributing them to all the eclectic shops, coffeehouses, and colleges within an hour’s drive. I interviewed local artists and writers, hosted open mics, and explored traveling to writing events. I felt like I was creating a movement in my sleepy town.

Most of what I learned about creative blocks, writing, and publishing happened by doing the work and making mistakes. I used the mistakes as teachable moments and tried again and again until I got the results I was looking for. After years of having my work published, I began mentoring other writers with their projects. It was soul food to watch them conquer their fears and publish their work. And that’s when it was clear what I was supposed to be doing.

Writing Past the Inner Critic – guest blog post by Sage Adderley-Knox (Trish Hopkinson’s blog)

I’ve started back into writing slowly after my long break. I’m not currently doing a poem a day prompt, but working everyday on older poems editing those I’ve started on my last two month long courses, focussing the language and intent. A few are ready to submit to journals, along with the pile of rejections that came in while I was away. I’ve noticed most American magazines seem to be on hiatus, but the British ones are still working on backlogs. 

I’m also going through some of my old journals for details of poems I’ve had on the back burner because I couldn’t remember what actually happened. It’s lovely how they have jogged my memory and taken me back to those places and times. Little details I have forgotten or placed onto different scenes brought into firm focus. Unfortunately, I didn’t write about everything. Moments that seem important now often didn’t get mentioned in my journals either because they didn’t seem of consequence at the time or life just got in the way of writing. I’ve never been one for writing every day which would help to rebuild moments later.

Gerry Stewart, Back to Work and to Barnhill

I didn’t sleep well last night; I often don’t as Sunday moves into Monday.  Last night I had a different kind of anxiety dream about needing to get to my spaceship before launch time–but my stuff was in a different building.  Was there time to make one last potty stop?  Did I really need all this stuff?  Would the space ship leave without me?

Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Anxiety Dreams for the Space Age

The first moments of dawn slowly illuminate the room. It’s something I enjoy. I close the book and get up to make the coffee; my wife will be up in a moment. How does one grow old living with the loss of a child? Stay close to the light, embrace it. Keep faith in the new day, live one day at a time. As the coffee brews I walk through the old house opening the curtains for the day. Letting in the light.

James Lee Jobe, prose poem – ‘The first moments of dawn slowly illuminate…’

When I was a child, I badly wanted a desk.  For a long time, there was only one in the house that belonged to my father–a midcentury cheapie that instead of drawers, had side cabinets guarded by roll top panels. It lived first in the upstairs attic space until my bedroom moved there, and later in the basement.  My dad hoarded paper like you wouldn’t believe, so the surface was usually not visible, but mostly I dreamed of a time when I would have such a desk–a place to read and write and color.  To play school,  which was also a favorite thing–teacher’s desks being a similar magical space filled with red pens and star stickers. 

When I was 9, we lived briefly in the trailer of a great uncle, the room I squatted in having a huge desk with drawers that had been too large for him to move, and which thus transferred to the new owners.  It was summer and school long out, but I would pull the chair up to it and pretend to study. I kept a pair of scissors found in it’s copious drawers for years engraved with my cousin-by-marriage’s name, which was the same as mine except with an “i”. When we moved into a new house, eventually I inherited my father’s desk, by then, the doors broken completely, but I quickly painted it white and covered it in magazine clippings under tape and it served me well for quite a few years–through junior high and into highschool.  Eventually, it fell apart, and I traded it for  a huge board propped in the corner on a pet kennel we kept the new kittens in. It wobbled, and would fall off if I leaned to heavily, but I loved the space.  I made college plans, and wrote essays for Seventeen magazine on changing the world. Penned environmental editorials for the paper and begrudgingly did math homework perched on a metal work stool I’d lifted from the basement.  My dorm room at UNCW had the perfect tiny wood desk, my first with actual drawers I had very things to put in it, but I wrote a lot on the floor, my electric typewriter on my knees.

Kristy Bowen, to all the desks I’ve loved before…

I swear lavishly and viciously and feel better for it. At some point in the year, I’ll sit with my diary to browse the year I’m living through and laugh at what I’ve written.  I laugh at myself and feel tenderness for this person who has poured her heart onto pages that nobody else reads.

Notes about what is growing in garden, what isn’t growing, what is being eaten alive, who is  invading, who is digging under fences.  Notes about sounds; music playing, son’s band rehearsing, arguments overheard from neighbour’s gardens.  Notes about smells, cigarettes, barbecues, bonfires, weed, burnt toast, frying onions, incense, scented candles.  Late night revellers heard through open windows. Climate details. What I am writing about, when I wrote, how much I wrote, what needs to be finished. What my daughter said in a text.

Times I’ve cried.  Times I’ve laughed about crying.  Times I’ve read about the times I’ve cried and laughed about it and laughed about it again.  And cried.

Josephine Corcoran, Found in my diary

I am trying to achieve some assimilation of yoga into my daily living, and into my writing. 

Yoga takes discipline for starters. This is something that would likely help across many areas of my life. 

The byproduct contributing to a calming or peaceful presence that allows for a more meditative state of being; where yesterday and tomorrow are pushed aside to make way for being in the present. That is where we can find ourselves, stripped down of the weighted anxieties that we tend to carry. 

I’m not able to say that I have my meditative practice perfect. Still, I believe that I am becoming more receptive that inner silence and where that might lead. It seems kind of like nibbling on a cracker when wine tasting. A way to clear the pallet for the next new taste.  In this way, I can be receptive to the experience of new ways of bringing fresh material to the page. 

Michael Allyn Wells, Assimilation of Yoga , Writing, and Life in General

When the moon in the horoscope
moved to the eleventh house
he turned his gaze inward, sat at the temple prakaram
with the odhuvaar and trained his voice.

In the dark entrails of thrashing passion
words from the song housed in his sticky palate
she probed with her tongue into the cavity of his soul
smelling of areca nut and country hooch.

Uma Gowrishankar, The Tale From Mylai

That “gateway to beginning” found among the ends of things, the detritus, the beginning found in the ends of things, as a tree grows outward from the center and rots that way too, having absorbed a lifetime of nutrients, having shared what it had.

I didn’t love much of Garbage, but it taught me something about the glory of excess, and the boldness of pouring it all into the poem, carrot peels and rotten meat, old receipts and fancy packaging, and having the patience and faith in the process to make a path and find a pattern.

Marilyn McCabe, Doorbells and Sleighbells and; or, Reading A. R. Ammons’s Garbage

And behind the chanting
rain, a tenor voice called time, counting
down the seconds: the wall clock, stalking
shadows on one brass leg, soft-talking,

like the go-between whose tale is too important
to be shouted loud. This harbinger won’t rant
about decay, the end of worlds. So, doomed,
I watched and heard the hours unwind, consumed

by the oldest story.

Dick Jones, Mr. Moore’s Wall Clock

Mercy

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Let this flutter in the heart simply be 
a bird momentarily confused, unable
to tell banded walls for windows;
hovering all night in place, trying
to track down the source of a waterfall
purling over and over in a narrow channel
of rock—O let its wings not be water-
logged from effort, dreaming of the dish
that sways with the weight of sugar
tipping under the leaves, tired
from the blind distances it's covered.
Surely the moon is here to call it back,
offering an orchid-pocked cheek; a milk
bath, a gleaming plate, a coin for alms.