Dogged

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up betimes and with Sir W. Pen in his coach to White Hall, there to wait upon the Duke of York and the Commissioners of the Treasury, [Sir] W. Coventry and Sir John Duncombe, who do declare that they cannot find the money we demand, and we that less than what we demand will not set out the fleet intended, and so broke up, with no other conclusion than that they would let us have what they could get and we would improve that as well as we could. So God bless us, and prepare us against the consequences of these matters. Thence, it being a cold wet day, I home with Sir J. Minnes in his coach, and called by the way at my bookseller’s and took home with me Kercher’s Musurgia — very well bound, but I had no comfort to look upon them, but as soon as I come home fell to my work at the office, shutting the doors, that we, I and my clerks, might not be interrupted, and so, only with room for a little dinner, we very busy all the day till night that the officers met for me to give them the heads of what I intended to say, which I did with great discontent to see them all rely on me that have no reason at all to trouble myself about it, nor have any thanks from them for my labour, but contrarily Brouncker looked mighty dogged, as thinking that I did not intend to do it so as to save him. This troubled me so much as, together with the shortness of the time and muchness of the business, did let me be at it till but about ten at night, and then quite weary, and dull, and vexed, I could go no further, but resolved to leave the rest to to-morrow morning, and so in full discontent and weariness did give over and went home, with[out] supper vexed and sickish to bed, and there slept about three hours, but then waked, and never in so much trouble in all my life of mind, thinking of the task I have upon me, and upon what dissatisfactory grounds, and what the issue of it may be to me.

a cold wet day
shutting the door

on a dog that did not
intend to trouble me

with the shortness of time
and muchness of fur

o leave me to my life
in the factory of maybe

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 4 March 1668

An-anito

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
It was a new year, or the eve of one. It was 
a night powdered with firecracker smoke. 
You were a child who'd already learned 
not to be afraid of a world whose spirits 
could be called by the sounds of simple 
invocation. Which is to say, Come here; or 
Here she is. Here I am. There's no need for 
a hundred-year gift, or an animal sacrifice 
after weeks of having penned its bleating 
in the outhouse.  A glittering ribbon of flies, 
the only witnesses every time  someone  
pulled on a cord to flood the room with light. 
What isn't visible goes as an echo of tiny wings;
hovers over every lip glossed with water.

Exclusive

This entry is part 37 of 40 in the series Pandemic Year

 

Watch on Vimeo

I’m beginning to resent the camera for what it excludes. If I had money, I could get one of those fancy 360° cameras and greatly expand the frontiers of my frustration. If I were rich, I could give up on photography altogether and turn my poems into place-specific holograms. The words could hang in the air like contrails and brew their own bad weather.

for the maples’
flaming sexual parts
this breeze

***

Process notes

After I drafted this I remembered I had an AR app on my phone called Weird Type. Good to finally have a use for it. Also, I’m not sure whether filming that rock pile directly influenced what I wrote a little later, but it was fun to juxtapose two products of the same walk and ultimately the same train of thought.

I’m not sure how many people are aware of what flowers are, or even that trees are flowering plants, so I suppose the haiku might just seem weird and creepy. Oh well. Maples are wind-pollinated, which from a human perspective seems slightly less perverse than relying on insects to get off.

Painstaking

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up betimes to work again, and then met at the Office, where to our great business of this answer to the Parliament; where to my great vexation I find my Lord Brouncker prepared only to excuse himself, while I, that have least reason to trouble myself, am preparing with great pains to defend them all: and more, I perceive, he would lodge the beginning of discharging ships by ticket upon me; but I care not, for I believe I shall get more honour by it when the Parliament, against my will, shall see how the whole business of the Office was done by me. At noon rose and to dinner. My wife abroad with Mercer and Deb. buying of things, but I with my clerks home to dinner, and thence presently down with Lord Brouncker, W. Pen, T. Harvy, T. Middleton, and Mr. Tippets, who first took his place this day at the table, as a Commissioner, in the room of Commissioner Pett. Down by water to Deptford, where the King, Queene, and Court are to see launched the new ship built by Mr. Shish, called “The Charles.” God send her better luck than the former! Here some of our brethren, who went in a boat a little before my boat, did by appointment take opportunity of asking the King’s leave that we might make full use of the want of money, in our excuse to the Parliament for the business of tickets, and other things they will lay to our charge, all which arose from nothing else: and this the King did readily agree to, and did give us leave to make our full use of it. The ship being well launched, I back again by boat, setting T. Middleton and Mr. Tippets on shore at Ratcliffe, I home and there to my chamber with Mr. Gibson, and late up till midnight preparing more things against our defence on Thursday next to my content, though vexed that all this trouble should be on me. So to supper and to bed.

where are my great pains
to defend me against my will

if the new ship is called Luck
am I her on-shore rat

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 3 March 1668

Dialogue Between Duty and Delight

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Always, they hold up two bowls, two plates, 
two signs—one for utility, the other for
something frivolous (call it beauty or sweet-
ness, polish or light). Simplicity of wood 
against  telenovela swirls embedded in marble.
Does it take second sight to free the figure 
pressing toward the chisel's point, the hammer's 
blows on rough stone; and could you really choose 
between a wildflower or the moon? The bee 
papers its hive in hexagons, a geometry that holds
the most weight. Cool air, vaulted ceilings—
Some birds soar above the rafters, others
make a career of conversing with the ground.



Second coming

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up and betimes to the office, where I did much business, and several come to me, and among others I did prepare Mr. Warren, and by and by Sir D. Gawden, about what presents I have had from them, that they may not publish them, or if they do, that in truth I received none on the account of the Navy but Tangier, and this is true to the former, and in both that I never asked any thing of them. I must do the like with the rest. Mr. Moore was with me, and he do tell me, and so W. Hewer tells me, he hears this morning that all the town is full of the discourse that the Officers of the Navy shall be all turned out, but honest Sir John Minnes, who, God knows, is fitter to have been turned out himself than any of us, doing the King more hurt by his dotage and folly than all the rest can do by their knavery, if they had a mind to it. At noon home to dinner, where was Mercer, and very merry as I could be with my mind so full of business, and so with my wife, her and the girl, to the King’s house to see the “Virgin Martyr” again, which do mightily please me, but above all the musique at the coming down of the angel, which at this hearing the second time, do still commend me as nothing ever did, and the other musique is nothing to it. Thence with my wife to the ’Change, and so, calling at the Cocke ale house, we home, and there I settle to business, and with my people preparing my great answer to the Parliament for the office about tickets till past 1 a o’clock at night, and then home to supper and to bed, keeping Mr. Gibson all night with me. This day I have the news that my sister was married on Thursday last to Mr. Jackson; so that work is, I hope, well over.

war like God
in his dotage
with a virgin again

but above the angel
this second time
the other music is a clock

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 2 March 1668

Poem with Spring Rain and Ephesian Goddess

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Wind all night, and thunderstorms. I can think of no other 
purpose for disturbance than disturbance, in the same way 
you could think of the mind as the most obstinate refusal 
for its own liberation from itself. Aren't the tulip trees and
Bradford Pear again in flower; and the dogwood and sweet-
bay magnolia; and soon, the leaves and darkening syconia 
of the fig, drooping like fleshy sacs? You might say we've 
weathered and are weathering still. In the frenzy of rain 
or hail or the froth of seawater, what mouths tilt even more 
widely open? In the beginning, the mother goddess wept
for all her children thinning to bone across the earth. One 
breast she milked for blood, another for salt; from the rest, 
rice pearls and blankets, tea, dollar bills, silk gowns and 
bread. But the billows don't stop; their hunger remains. 

Poetry Blog Digest 2021, Week 12

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, a bit of a miscellany… or perhaps I simply resisted the urge to look for linking themes as I usually do.

The night before last, it was warm enough to sit outside and watch clouds cross the almost-full moon, and I became mesmerized by the show: how these strange, ephemeral creatures took turns ingesting, or failing to ingest, this radiant capsule, each glowing in subtle rainbow colors when its turn came. It felt more than a bit familiar.

Anyway, enjoy the digest.


You’re not worried about yourself, but you should be.
You’re worried your friend will catch this dread thing from you.
They won’t. That doesn’t mean they are okay. They’re not.
And they won’t be alright. And then they won’t be, and
then there is nothing, nothing you can do, nothing
you can do different. Here — what you should be doing:
You’re not worried about yourself, but you should be.
You should rest. Rest more. Don’t be so surprised. People
want to help. Let them. Eat rainbows. Pinch white cheeks pink.
Look for the hot water bottle now. Bundle up.
Expect no fireworks, swimming suits, ribbons, or wreaths,
but treasure candles. This is your worst and best year.
Live in the now. Write it down. You won’t remember.

PF Anderson, Letter To Myself a Year Ago

I recently had a text from one of my stepdaughters who was passing on a question from her five-year-old: “Nana, how are poems made?”

Hmm! I tried to think very hard before responding. How to say something encouraging and likely to engage a five-year old, while still being honest? No doubt there are teachers or ex-teachers reading this who would have plenty of good suggestions. All my teaching experience has been with adults, and having been a Brownie helper for a short time I learned very quickly that I had no idea how to seriously pique the interest of a 9 year old, let alone a 5 year old. The last thing I wanted to do was to say anything that would put my granddaughter off poetry for life.

I wish I could remember what I thought about poetry when I was five. Did I love nonsense poetry, silly stories and loony rhymes? I’d hate children to think that’s all poetry is about. Is it the only way ‘into’ poetry for a five-year old, or is that just setting low expectations?

Robin Houghton, On encouraging children’s interest in writing poetry

I’m ready for Haggadah of phenomenology, where everything has a voice — every person, every thing. Already decentered, in this story we give equal voice to the midwives Puah and Shifra, we flesh out the anonymous people, Pharoah, the Egyptians. We voice the animals — “Let all that have breath praise Yah” — fish, mules, snakes. All things — the dry land, waves, the sea, the tambourines. This is where wise ancient texts, already rich with choral vocals, meet the new. It’s part of the command to see the radical in the traditional, for if the original hadn’t been radical to begin with, it wouldn’t have survived.

Jill Pearlman, Speak, Kafka: What the Maxwell House Haggadah didn’t share

Often my observations seem mundane, but they’re real, and they’re true, and that feels important, I’ve no doubt that writing haiku has been a coping strategy during the pandemic. Going for that morning walk, writing those few lines, has felt stable and constant, and importantly, it totally lacks ambition. That might seem like an odd claim for a writer, but haiku are about taking things one moment at a time, not writing a poem, but capturing an experience, an observation. It may shape up into something later. I might like it enough to send it out. But at the heart of this is the moment of experience that comes before the words, or at least before the written word. This is how if feels to me. I don’t pretend to be an expert. In fact, I feel like a complete novice, but that’s good because it removes any expectations I might have for the work (expectations belong to that slippery construct, the future – and remember, there is no future).

Julie Mellor, A haiku milestone

‘When I feel like that, I ask myself what would a young, white, confident man in tech ask for? …’ is the best advice I’ve been given in March. It helped me to leave a couple of the questions on the recent census unanswered, and to launch my Facebook page this week. 

Questionnaires, however well-designed, try to squeeze us (in the case of the UK census, all 66.65 million of us) into boxes. I’m averse to small spaces unless they are ones I step into of my own accord, zipping up the flap behind me. But it’s mandatory to submit the 2021 census, so I clicked the required boxes on the online form last Sunday and pressed Send. 

The same day, I created a Facebook page in an attempt to offset some of the challenges of publicising a new book at a time when the pandemic has made the usual readings in bars, cafes, and libraries impossible. At an event pre-lockdown, I might sell 5 books following one of these (usually) free events, sometimes more, occasionally none. I usually offered a discount, signed the books as requested. It was a good exchange all-round.

The questions I didn’t answer on the census were about religion and sexual orientation. In writing this, I have already given you more information than the National Office of Statistics will receive about me. Perhaps I was influenced by the recent graffiti (graffito?) I saw near the station which reads, JESUS WAS BISEXUAL. How odd, I thought, to choose that as a daub, but then again, it did get me thinking. So too the other graffito under the railway bridge: GREAT NESS IS BORING. How odd, I thought, to condemn a hamlet near Nesscliffe so specifically, and to travel ten miles or so into town to do so.  

Liz Lefroy, I Census Myself

With a primate’s practiced peck
of thumb and forefinger I catch
a sugar ant, and absentmindedly
roll it to its death:

I will notice the smell of its small catastrophe
later, when the sun is high, and I rub my eyes,
aching from the light.

Dale Favier, A Change of Days

When John Greening posted on social media the other day that Harry Guest had died, I was taken aback to note that the news didn’t then spread far more widely.

I’m not at all qualified to write an obituary of any sort, but I do know that Harry Guest was a significant figure in British poetry who published with Anvil/Carcanet and was widely anthologised. In fact, I even have a battered copy (picked up from an Oxfam shop in the early 1990s) of the Penguin Modern Poets that featured his work…

In other words, his passing seems to me to be yet another example of the ephemeral nature of poetic fame. Of course, as Bob Mee mentioned on Twitter, the poets who “disappear” are often among the most interesting to read.

Matthew Stewart, Harry Guest (1932-2021), the ephemeral nature of poetic fame yet again

(This is part 1 of a series of reflections on each of Austen’s novels as I reread each one this year.)

I feel the point of S&S is that one should not allow oneself to be ruled by emotion, even appropriate emotion (like the grief the Dashwoods feel when their father dies).

One must be “mistress of herself”

What a good book to read nowadays, when airing every emotion is seen as Authenticity. When Emotion is equated with Truth.

Renee Emerson, My Jane Austen Odyssey: Sense and Sensibility

Marvin Thompson’s debut collection from Peepal Tree Press is a PBS Recommendation and deservedly so. All too often we are informed of the arrival of a startling voice, usually a vital one, striking a new note in English poetry. Well, this is the real deal: a superbly skilled practitioner of the art whose work is driven by two seemingly opposing forces. Thompson writes with a disarming sense of autobiographical honesty, often about domestic life, as a father and a son. Yet he can also create fictional characters with detailed and convincing voices and backgrounds. What holds these divergent styles together is his demonstrated conviction that the past (as an individual or as a member of an ethnic or cultural group) interpenetrates the present.

Martyn Crucefix, Jazz and Upbringing: Marvin Thompson’s ‘Road Trip’ reviewed

Anthony Cody’s Borderland Apocrypha has been an engrossing read. It details violence against Mexicans in the United States in poems that splash and splatter across the page. Set in landscape format, the book unfolds with white space and quick bursts of text, as if almost every poem is a kind of erasure, the text a struggle to stand against the white space.

A central poem is “Prelude to a Mexican Lynching, February 2, 1848, Guadalupe Hidalgo; or The Treaty of Peace, Friendships, Limits, and Settlement” which is an almost-30 page erasure of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which, as an end to the Mexican-American war, required Mexico to cede to the US all or parts of what we now know as the entire Southwest. The so-called treaty was bilingual, and Cody’s erasures show two erasures on each page, a dotted line separating the English and the Spanish. The erasures from the preamble and Article 1, for example say in English, “animated by a sincere desire to/end/the people/as good neighbors/There shall be/ America and the Mexican/without place.” And on the Spanish side: “las calamidades/que/existe entre/paz y/ciudades/sin/personas,” which I translate as “the calamities that exist between peace and cities with no people.” (Cody himself supplies no translations of the Spanish threaded throughout the collection, which meant some happy leafing through and discovery in my Spanish-English dictionary.)

Marilyn McCabe, Darkness on the edge of town; or, On Cody’s Borderland Apocrypha

9 – What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?

The fabulous Eloise Klein Healy told me (when I was expressing frustration at feeling ready for a book and not having one) “You keep knocking at the front door of poetry and they are never going to let you in the front door. But there are a lot of ways into the house of poetry and once you are inside it matters a little less how you got in.” She also told me “Adrienne Rich died, they chose a new lesbian poet, and it wasn’t you, so get over it.” EKH is a font of wisdom.

10 – What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?

I am not a daily writer, but I am a daily thinker. I think about poetry or a poem or my central idea every single day. I also am pretty good at solving poetry problems in my head. Eventually there comes a part of the process where I am writing everyday and I do a good job of giving myself one problem (Where should this line go? How do I get from A to B?) to think about and solve. That problem kind of bubbles away on my backburner until I figure it out. I’m of the Gertrude Stein school- It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much doing really, really nothing. That nothing is super important to me.

rob mclennan, 12 or 20 (second series) questions with Tanya Olson

This last week the beloved Polish poet, Adam Zagajewski left us. I’m a bit wrecked by that I have to say. His books are always near my reading chair in my study. He wrote the famous “Try to Praise the Mutilated World,” and so many other surprising and wonderful lines.

For example,

“Only in the beauty created
by others is there consolation,
in the music of others and in others’ poem.
Only others save us,
even though solitude tastes like
opium. The others are not hell,
if you see them early, with their
foreheads pure, cleansed. by dreams.”

Shawna Lemay, Beauty Break

I cannot consider my heart’s wet muscle its pumping pumping pumping the weight of it the fat of it the pulse of it in my body at rest I cannot consider my heart’s music its valentine its stupid fault line my father’s heart stopped its lithe work when he was sixty I cannot consider my heart’s busy valves and harnesses aorta and arteries a horse’s heart in my body its glenoid shape its fourteen pounds its chambers filled with sugar and green grass and ecstasy its horse chambers playing Bach in a barn in sunlight my giant horse heart rolling in hay beating time keeping time perfect and alive but for an apple a hot steamed snort my heavy horse body moving always forward moving toward morning moving toward heaven

Rebecca Loudon, First Seder

Yesterday I realized that those vaccine appointments are on the feast day of the Annunciation.  I did some sketching, which I may write more about later.  This morning, I woke up with a poem in my brain, about the time just after the Annunciation, and the poem just came out mostly fully formed.  That almost never happens, particularly not these days.

It’s also been the kind of week where I have that mental whiplash that comes from being safe and careful, pandemic or no pandemic, but surrounded by people who are not being safe and careful.  As Monday night went into Tuesday, I finally got a good night’s sleep, in part because we kept the windows closed.  For several nights before, I had awakened to squealing tires and revving motors.  Has my street become a drag racing gathering spot?  And if so, why?

It’s a week of lots and lots of traffic, even on residential streets, as we see all sorts of strange stories of Spring Break in Miami Beach–more occasions to be snarky about lockdowns and how maybe we should have stayed in lockdown. Last year, the South Florida tourist season came to a fast finish as the pandemic closed in.  I do understand how we are a tourist economy, but I was not sorry to see the on season switch to off.

It’s been the kind of week where I keep stumbling across reminders of what we’ve lost.  For example, I opened a paper box in my office and found not paper, not recycling of used paper, but cans of soda.  It took my brain a few seconds to process the bright red, silver, and green of the cans of Coke products where I had been expecting white scraps of paper.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Annunciations and Vaccinations and Signs of All Sorts

sweet blood drawn into dawn :: robinsong

Grant Hackett [no title]

Humming seder psalms,
I rub silver polish into
the pitcher we used for

pouring water on our hands
when we returned from
your funeral. I’ll fill it

with ice water, and
your small silver creamer
with our salt water tears.

Rachel Barenblat, Third Pesach Without You

 While I have been in better sorts for the past couple of weeks, Tuesday there was a dip that found me crying for no real reason in the middle of the day in the middle of the library.   My mood usually improves as the weather does, but an upward spike in covid in the city had me frustrated with the stupidity of humans and just not ready to ride a third wave out, especially when vaccines seem, even once they open to me next week, something not all that easy to get an appointment for (especially if you do not have limitless time to spend on the internet and transportation to far away places to get them). I was mostly crying not necessarily because I fear getting sick (every day, unavoidably out in the world)  but I’m not sure how much longer I can go in this state of paralysis where I can’t read, can’t really create, have no concentration and mostly am phoning it in and pretending to be a human. Facing another summer of it had me in tears when it feels like it could be so very close.  At least until I made the mistake of reading the news.  

In better spots of my days, I am busily humming away on new dgp releases, though it’s hard to not be intensely scattered.  Things that used to be easy breezy take forever. There will be a slew of catch up 2020 titles coming to the shop soon, so watch for those. While it makes for a crazy time right now as we launch into 2021 releases as well, taking a bit of a time allowed me the opportunity to catch up on a horrendous backlog of orders from late 2019 into lockdown (a time when I was uprooting the whole operation and releasing way too many books in too short of a time). I think the wise words about knowing not when to quit, but when to rest were very important as I thought about upcoming plans for the press, which I considered scaling back significantly in my burnout.  This was combined with a slowdown in income for the whole operation.  Obv. not releasing titles makes things expectedly slower, but also just people not spending as much $$$ in general, and authors not regularly ordering author copies for readings (because, you know,  there are no readings *covid sigh*) It’s a huge blessing that I was already free of studio rent because we would have certainly have been evicted. On the other hand the slowdown allowed me to catch my breath a little, so it worked out for the best. Now it’s just a matter of moving onward. 

Kristy Bowen, notes & things | 3/25/2021

It’s not often I find myself thinking about milking horses, but there have been at least three occasions that I can remember. (Let me know if it crosses your mind more frequently, but know this —it isn’t a competition).

The first was about ten years ago when I remembered an incident from when I was a nipper. My mum helped some friends of ours with a foal that was born on their land. Please note that they had horses, it’s not the kind of place where horses just roam about dropping off baby horses for a laugh. Regardless of this, it set me off on the path to write a poem about it.

I did, and there have been many, many drafts since then…and name changes…and submissions to magazines…and rejections and redrafts and resubmissions, etc.

The next time was when I got an acceptance email a couple of weeks ago (March 11th) from the revived Poetry Scotland to say they were taking the poem. I was lucky enough to have been in the last issue of PS under the control of Sally Evans, and I’m very happy to say I’m in the first issue back under the auspices of Judy Taylor & Andy Jackson. I was (and still am) very honoured to be in there, and that this poem has found a home.

Mat Riches, Horse Milk

Books make me feel less alone. Less peculiar. I have noticed that when I feel isolated and lonely, I go on book-buying sprees. Every book is a potential: this one will save me. I blame it on my religious upbringing: The Word is God. The answers are in the scripture. When every adult around you is an idiot, there is a near-ancient authority that has left riddles to be untangled.

There is hope, here: on the page. In the verses that sing.

I’m taking a course on visual poetry right now and am fascinated by asemic poetry. I am surprisingly drawn to it. Moved by it. After spending years studying formal poetry and analyzing poems with a chair and a rubber hose (despite Billy Collin’s objections), I am finding an instinctive satisfaction in holding the handwriting up to the light. Acknowledging the humanity, the creative mind present. The philosopher Denis Dutton said that one of the universal criteria for art is evidence of individual expression. Another is craftsmanship. Another is that the work is somehow imbued with emotion.

And in my mind poetry is the leap we make between the poet’s material expression and the poet’s subjective experience that demanded expression. In other words, all poetry is itself a meta-metaphor: the poem is the vehicle and the poet’s subjective experience is the tenor. And it seems to me that if we recognize this vehicle/tenor without putting it into words (creating new metaphors), then we are perhaps communicating in a more directly visceral way.

People have worked for years trying to decipher the Voynich manuscript because we recognize the human hand. We have this feeling that there is something important here. If someone were to ever unlock the code (if there is one) it would no doubt be anti-climatic. Our intellectual evaluation of the work would suck the joy right out of the visceral experience. We would lose the emotional connection with the artist by creating an intellectual one. One step removed.

Let’s not know. Let’s let the mystery be.

E.’s mother tongue is not English, and often when he reads my poetry he says: It sings so beautifully. Sometimes he has no idea what the ten-letter words mean. Sometimes I have leaped too far between vehicle and tenor the metaphor is lost. But it sings.

That matters.

Ren Powell, Visceral Understanding

I’ve been so remiss about putting new material on this blog, and for that many apologies. Today I want to bring to your attention my new pamphlet collection of poems, brought out just a few days ago by Fras Publications in Dunning, Scotland. The pamphlet itself is spare but elegant – the poet Walter Perrie who runs Fras operates as something of a literary cottage industry. He selects, edits, designs, prints and distributes his publications which include the periodical Fras. I’ve long been a follower of Fras and have admired Walter’s pamphlets, particularly Alasdair Gray’s late poetry collection Guts Minced with Oatmeal (2018).

I’m proud to say that Walter has published a selection of my own poems – under the title Coping Stones. These are all poems written since my 2020 pamphlet from Mariscat Press called First Hare but these new poems happen to have been written under the grim long shadow of Coronavirus. This is not to say that these poems bore on about hackneyed and trite topical issues relating to the virus itself, but rather that the pandemic darkens the background of these poems.

Richie McCaffery, New poetry pamphlet

I am searching my brain; is there anything that I forgot to tell you? Did I tell you about the sunlight reflected in the morning dew? Did I tell you of the echo of the hawk cry in the granite canyon? Even now the clock is ticking.

James Lee Jobe, the echo of the hawk cry

In such
a town, a group of black-shirted birds
plays chess under willows in the park.
The oldest philosopher is a pine tree;
how wise it is to keep its own counsel
as one war follows another, as the young
descend the mountains to the city, then
return when all their faith has run out.
The future continues to row its flat-
bottomed boat on the lake, sometimes
stirring the water with only one oar
so it goes around in small circles.

Luisa A. Igloria, 1-Point Perspective

For all his love
of holiness

he was not a saint
but a scoundrel

like the rest of them,
a common poet

who put words first
and loved the stars

and didn’t think
much of heaven.

Tom Montag, OLD POET

I would walk through fires of your nightmares.

Spend my last dollar to buy you necklaces of the most beautiful adjectives.

In my free time, I’d work as one of life‘s ghostwriters.

Would alchemize tears into a Niagara Falls of uplift.

Pick the locks of your most deeply hidden hurts.

Be the monkey bars on your playground of monkeying around.

I’d cut words from magazines of your old miseries, rearrange them into an alphabet of new beginnings—

anything and everything to live with you in the Hotel of New Moons.

Rich Ferguson, Hotel of New Moons

Meanwhile, this week marks one year since my latest chapbook launched into print–right at the start of US pandemic lockdowns. Find it here: https://prolificpress.com/bookstore/chapbook-series-c-14/barefoot-girls-by-ann-e-michael-p-317.html

So I am celebrating in a very small way, hooray for the little things! For the fact that my 88 year old mother has had her vaccine, and so have I, and now we can visit in person and appreciate little joys like cranberry, raisin, almond, and dark chocolate trail mix, floral bouquets, slow walks through the garden starting to green up and–soon–bloom. Maybe I will even be able to take her out for a beer (at an outdoor restaurant) in a month or two. I can read her some of the poems I’ve written about my dad. We can just sit and watch the birds.

For the fact that my students are slogging away, enduringly hopeful that by the time they graduate the USA will somehow be better. Maybe it will. With their help.

For the fact that my siblings and I have friendly relationships with one another–and honest ones.

Hooray for my spouse, mowing the meadow with his 1947 John Deere Model M tractor! For a new manuscript of old poems that I’m finally spending some genuine, careful, critical time revising.

Ann E. Michael, Moderately good intentions

all transplanted
washing my dirty knees
after a short prayer

Jim Young [no title]

How would you describe the link between your art and your poetry?

I have come to the conclusion that I am an artist and I use whatever media feels right at the time.  I originally did a foundation course in art and design and left English behind at O level.  I didn’t do an English Degree as many poets have, so  have always felt I’ve come into the poetry room by the wrong door.  But it’s the door I found, so here I am.

I began to write poems in the late 90s at Norwich Art School, whilst on the BA (hons) Cultural Studies degree. I found I could more tangibly create images with words than I had been able to do with paint, and learnt to use metaphor more subtly through reading and writing poetry. Poetry became my prime focus and I left my visual practice behind.

My visual work was rooted in the theatrical.  I toyed with the idea of designing for theatre, but was quite protective of the little sculptural environments I was making and having them scaled up for actors to act in didn’t appeal to me.   I found that through poems, I could fulfill my megalomaniac urges to create the scenery, the lights, the actors and the drama.  I think of my poems as little theatres.

When we moved house ten years ago, I gained a studio space. I started collecting the kinds of strange objects that have always interested me, but never had the storage room for. Mostly found, or more like, foraged objects, from flea markets and so on – the kind of objects that arrive with their own stories. I like to put them alongside other objects and try to invent new stories for them. Most of my practice involves play. I place things together in the same enclosure to see how they will get on. I need some kind of logic before I reach for the glue-gun to make their relationship permanent. Often that logic is a dream-logic, and sometimes this is cemented using words cut from old books and encyclopaedias, or my own whole poems. I am interested in the way that words and images play against each other and shift their meanings and connotations.

I have always been fascinated by Cabinets of Curiosity, the way unrelated objects are gathered together in a microcosm of the world and think this aesthetic has unconsciously crept into my work. I have a fetish for boxes, and tend to see poems as boxes – methods of containment that offer a semblance of order.

Abegail Morley, Unlocking Creativity with Helen Ivory

It’s almost April, which is National Poetry Month – which means more readings – yes, even I’ll be doing a reading – and more attention to poetry in general, which is good. It’s also my birthday month, and when I’ll technically be able to safely go out and be fully immunized. And it’s Tulip Festival time – even if spring is running a little late, Skagit Valley will be full of blooming tulips by the middle of April, and I’m planning a day trip up there to see them this year, having missed it last year due to the shutdown. Wish me good weather luck!

It’s also a month when many new poetry books come out, including my friend Kelli Agodon’s book from Copper Canyon, Dialogues with Rising Tides, among others. Go ahead and treat yourself to a few good poetry books for poetry month. If you want any of mine, signed by the author, (some of them hard to find on Amazon anymore), see here!

Anyway, I am wishing you all a happy and healthy spring, and a happy National Poetry Month. I am hoping the vaccines will be faster than the variants. I am hoping for an end to our plague year at last.

Jeannine Hall Gailey, Stealth Spring in Seattle, Spring Submissions, Poetry Month Approaches

someone’s mask
crumpled in the field
pink primrose

James Brush, 03.24.21

Bird watcher

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). Up very betimes, and by coach to Sir W. Coventry’s; and there, largely carrying with me all my notes and papers, did run over our whole defence in the business of tickets, in order to the answering the House on Thursday next; and I do think, unless they be set without reason to ruin us, we shall make a good defence. I find him in great anxiety, though he will not discover it, in the business of the proceedings of Parliament; and would as little as is possible have his name mentioned in our discourse to them; and particularly the business of selling places is now upon his hand to defend himself in; wherein I did help him in his defence about the flag-maker’s place, which is named in the House. We did here do the like about the complaint of want of victuals in the fleete in the year 1666, which will lie upon me to defend also. So that my head is full of care and weariness in my employment. Thence home, and there my mind being a little lightened by my morning’s work in the arguments I have now laid together in better method for our defence to the Parliament, I to talk with my wife; and in lieu of a coach this year, I have got my wife to be contented with her closet being made up this summer, and going into the country this summer for a month or two, to my father’s, and there Mercer and Deb. and Jane shall go with her, which I the rather do for the entertaining my wife, and preventing of fallings out between her and my father or Deb., which uses to be the fate of her going into the country. After dinner by coach to Westminster, and there to St. Margaret’s church, thinking to have seen Betty Michell, but she was not there, but met her father and mother and with them to her father’s house, where I never was before, but was mighty much made of, with some good strong waters, which they have from their son Michell, and mighty good people they are. Thence to Mrs. Martin’s, where I have not been also a good while, and with great difficulty, company being there, did get an opportunity to hazer what I would con her, and here I was mightily taken with a starling which she hath, that was the King’s, which he kept in his bedchamber; and do whistle and talk the most and best that ever I heard anything in my life. Thence to visit Sir H. Cholmly, who continues still sick of his cold, and thence calling, but in vain, to speak with Sir G. Carteret at his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where I spoke with nobody, but home, where spent the evening talking with W. Hewer about business of the House, and declaring my expectation of all our being turned out. Hither comes Carcasse to me about business, and there did confess to me of his own accord his having heretofore discovered as a complaint against Sir W. Batten, Sir W. Pen and me that we did prefer the paying of some men to man “The Flying Greyhound” to others, by order under our hands. The thing upon recollection I believe is true, and do hope no great matter can be made of it, but yet I would be glad to have my name out of it, which I shall labour to do; in the mean time it weighs as a new trouble on my mind, and did trouble me all night. So without supper to bed, my eyes being also a little overwrought of late that I could not stay up to read.

carrying with me
all my places
like plain victuals

my head is full of light
going into summer

oh martin
oh starling
whistle the best life

in fields where nobody
comes flying

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 1 March 1668

Signature

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
In the tiny frame, my stricken 
face caught by the strobe of a flash
cube camera— Someone thrust
a bouquet of paper flowers into 

my arms.  Illness after illness,
mysterious little pandemics 
inside my cells. On his note 
pad, the examiner 

wrote of the thorax 
with a forward C.  Since then, 
I've straightened my spine. 
I ran away

from the man who'd cradled
my right foot in his hands 
to press on the insides of 
my arches.

It took five 
more years before I was taken
to church for a proper baptism.
I can't remember 

what other names I answered
to, or if this was why I tried to fold 
myself tiny: little skin, ghosting
around in a basket of lima beans.