poem coming in October

 

the Aurorean has once again accepted one of my poems for publication, this one to appear in the Fall/Winter 2018 issue. Recently, a friend of mine asked why I don’t post my poems here. Why not, indeed? The simple answer is: you never know when you might want to seek publication. For many journals, a blog posting constitutes publication which would make it off-limits for them.

But AFTER something has been accepted? Well, why not? Please enjoy the following two-part poem which is near and dear to my heart on so many levels. I’d love to hear what you have to say after reading it. Where do you feel it? Does it transport you to your own memories of apples in one form or another?

Fruit Tasting of Earth and Song

I.
The first apple I truly tasted was a marvelous
late-season Macoun from Hans’ orchards, his trees
loved into abundance with old-world wisdom
and song. Oh, he tended the earth

reverent in support of its best instincts, vigilant
against pest and pestilence, inviting us in to weep for joy
at the first crisp crunch of each perfect fruit, its juice dribbling
down my chin after exploding onto my child’s cheek,

each precious drop a tang of dirt and time, seasoned
patience and the humility of a master, his works of art
coaxed from the land by his patient hand with weathered grace
of age and timing, feeding our greed with gratitude.

II.
When I hear ‘apple’ my thoughts bypass the tart pleasure
of the first fall bite through taut red skin to the smooth firm flesh
within, its juicy tang squeezing my cheeks

bypass the smooth deep rose of applesauce hand-turned and divided
into flat pints frozen against dark days’ yearning for fresh fall pairings

bypass even the requisite dumplings, coffeecakes and pies of all kinds
that bake away those first fall days. No, my thoughts turn to long

blossom-laden boughs of spring, my Dad cheerily filling my childhood home
with armloads of pink and white sweetness, their intoxicating promise

of a few short days and several long months the open-and-close
of a full season bookended by the twin joys of this single tree. After all
these decades, I cannot say which feeds me more – blossom, or fruit.

new book review

Aside

It’s summer, and that means reviewing poetry collections for Mom Egg Review! The most recent review – We Became Summer, by Amy Barone – is now up.

It turns out that 750 words is not much when it comes to a thorough analysis of or even simple response to a full-length collection of poems. But if it is enough to help readers filter through the many options to match their interests to the offerings, then it is a job well-done.

writing about flowers

It has been months since I posted here, for reasons far too numerous to mention. In any case,  today’s Poem-a-Day from Academy of American Poets spoke to me so deeply that I decided to break my silence by sharing it here.

This question of writing about flowers is in fact very near and dear to my heart. The need arises in all of us who live close to the earth, to the heart, to what pulses through and connects all of life. As a poet, I love the idea of writing a bouquet of poems arising from a common seed. I also love the sublte metaphor and its shift through the poem. It draws me into multiple layers of meaning. [Clearly, my weeklong poetry workshop wtih Marge Piercy is still with me!] And, of course, I love how a simple experience can evoke such a powerful poetic response.

How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This,
by Hanif Abruddaqub

dear reader, with our heels digging into the good
mud at a swamp’s edge, you might tell me something
about the dandelion & how it is not a flower itself
but a plant made up of several small flowers at its crown
& lord knows I have been called by what I look like
more than I have been called by what I actually am &
I wish to return the favor for the purpose of this
exercise, which, too, is an attempt at fashioning
something pretty out of seeds refusing to make anytning
worthwhile of their burial. size me up & skip whatever semantics
arrive to the tongue first, say: that boy he look like a hollowed-out grandfather
clock, he look like a million-dollar god with a two-cent
heaven. like all it takes is one kiss & before morning,
you could scatter his whole mind across a field.

The poet writes of this poem:

I was at a reading shortly after the election, and the poet (who was black) was reading gorgeous poems, which had some consistent and exciting flower imagery. A woman (who was white) behind me—who thought she was whispering to her neighbor—said ‘How can black people write about flowers at a time like this?’ I thought it was so absurd in a way that didn’t make me angry but made me curious. What is the black poet to be writing about ‘at a time like this’ if not to dissect the attractiveness of a flower—that which can arrive beautiful and then slowly die right before our eyes? I thought flowers were the exact thing to write about at a time like this, so I began this series of poems, all with the same title. I thought it was much better to grasp a handful of different flowers, put them in a glass box, and see how many angles I could find in our shared eventual demise.

Does it speak to you in some way?

 

women’s review of books

The current issue just arrived from Wellesley Centers for Women on my computer screen. An impressive collection of serious writing about thought-provoking issues, from academia, tenure and feminism to historical and current events, criminal justice,  sex museums, marriage equality, and so much more. Including poetry. And on the last page (32), two poems of mine.

When I first received the invitation to submit poetry to Wellesley College’s Women’s Review of Books, the call was for pairs of related poems. The challenge intrigued me, as I was just assembling a new collection about my sister. Of the three or five poem pairs I submitted, they accepted “Late Spring” and “Early Spring.” You can read them here.

The Wellesley Centers for Women, according to their website, “is a premier women- and gender-focused, social-change oriented research-and-action institute at Wellesley College. Our mission is to advance gender equality, social justice, and human wellbeing through high quality research, theory, and action programs.”

The Women’s Review of Books is one of their significant publications, and I am beyond honored to have been published by them twice now. (see my author’s note for HEAR ME, SEE ME).

profuse gratitude

gratitude - williamarthurwardI have resisted my impulse to combine several days’ worth of one-word WP Daily Prompts into a single post, opting instead to focus my profuse gratitude for an ER physician into this single post.

Dr. Singh is an Emergency Room physician in a hospital south of Boston. It happened that my youngest had been having a remarkably rough sequence of events following an innocent cat bite…

Well, revise that: if you know about cat bites, you know they are anything but innocent. The string of unfortunate events is a shaggy dog story of its own. What brought her to the ER was the result of treatment, and plenty scary. Here, I want to focus on the extreme professionalism, compassion, and cut-to-the-chase sensitivity of this particular physician. He observed the late hour – the distraught parents – the millennial putting on her brave face – the boyfriend with overnight bag in tow – the month-long medical record of interventions and their impact – and, avoiding platitudes, unnecessary overviews or demeaning talking-down, simply addressed us as the concerned and aware people we are.

In turn, I was feeling especially vulnerable on his behalf. Although this was Boston, well-known for its cultural diversity, tolerance and inclusion – all my growing-up years I knew Boston as the ‘melting pot of the nation’ – it was also the first-year anniversary of this country’s most divisive, uninclusive, intolerant period in our modern history. All I could think, as I watched and listened to this soft-spoken man with extreme expertise and learning, as he looked at each of us with searching dark brown eyes between his black turban and thick black beard, was how grateful I was for him. It was only later I realized how grateful I was on his behalf that he is in Boston; and simultaneously, how outraged I felt at the daily confrontations with uncertainty and bias he must face as he goes about his work. After 30 years of dedicated medical practice and doubtless thousands of well-treated patients, he deserves better.

I want to acknowledge his presence at my daughter’s bedside the other evening; and thank him for giving us information, confidence and a caring experience that I will never forget.