Check out another fascinating interview on Nutmeg Chatter. Host J. Timothy Quirk chats with author (and my handsome husband) Eric D. Lehman about his new book.
Find Connecticut Vanguards at your local bookstore or order here!
History of a Table
The bar where Henry Miller drank
tenders a thin table beneath a mirrored wall
scoping author’s portraits and patrons who filter
into booths and pout with espresso mouths.
I am only apprenticing Paris. We’ve scrapbooked
ourselves here to dip into the ink of artists like us
who came to loot and ransack the city, to hunt
amid gray, cobbled streets, take the surly and brooding
pelt of phenomenon and deposit a littered alphabet
of new and debaucherous talismans. My pen
trembles, and I ache to write myself into a version
of original sin, revel in the profanity of life,
and spit into my inkwell. Beneath Hemingway
my new husband scribbles in his moleskin.
I fix my eyes toward the ring on his hand.
By the time my cocktail abandons me
I have taken custody of the deserted chronicles
left long ago on tap handles and between floorboards.
My husband closes his book; we leave on the table
a handprint of coins and a pocket of space.
The apprenticeship ends with the looted winter air
sweeping us into the amulet of the Paris night.
A wintery poem from Lune de Miel, Paris honeymoon, marriage, aging, and how the past maps itself out in pieces to be collected when you get there.
At the Café Select
Rue Montparnasse bustles outside the café window. It seems that there are very few hours of daylight in the Paris winter, though perhaps when something is condensed we can find the best part of it, like the pulp of a nut. As I watch passers-by folly onward, I listen to the voice of an American man talk about his life to a companion. I’m surprised when I turn my head to see that she is a younger woman. With my back turned to him, I imagined him telling his story to an old Navy buddy or a colleague he’s met for business. She is my age and this reminds me that I’m a week away from my thirty-fifth birthday. I hear him tell her about success, and he uses words like celebrate and thrive. But then his voice dims and I wonder if perhaps he’s slipped into French; perhaps I am just lost in the gloomy sidewalk, the gray pavement only a few shades deeper than the sky.
Later I catch him say that he doesn’t feel like a success; he pauses and continues with “in some ways more than a success.” “I have survived,” he notes. I guess his age to be seventy, perhaps, a few years younger than my father when he died, a few years younger than the ash-haired woman with a cane who passes by the window. The woman wears a tweed coat that falls just past her knees; her pale stockinged legs move slowly, even with the aid of a third. Her success is quieter, though both journeys have fought off the closing of many hours. I doubt that this as an adequate measure of success, though I like the simplicity of such an idea, as if all we had to do was float like tree branch down a long river.
The café-crème is cold by the time I turn my attention back to it, and having to strain now to hear their conversation, I lose interest in the man and his companion. Instead, I glance up to see my new husband writing a story about a little Danish boy whose mother dies. I think of my father and mother who both missed our wedding, and I wonder about the river’s end. As my thirty-fifth year comes to its end, I may be halfway there, to the moment when I recount my hours and ponder the scope of my successes. For now, I put on my own tweed coat, reach for my husband’s hand, and trace another’s steps down the boulevard.
Click on “a story about a little Danish boy. . . ” for the current issue of The Passed Note, a journal which features “The Wind Barrons of the Pharo Islands” by Eric D. Lehman, the very story described.
October 8, 2016
November 29, 2016
I’ll be reading at the Connecticut Forest and Park offices in Middlefield, CT at 7:00 p.m. This is the kick-off event and the inauguration of the trail’s new Poet Laureate David K. Leff. Joining David will be Connecticut Poet Laureate Rennie McQuilkin.
To celebrate the forthcoming publication of my husband Eric D. Lehman‘s novella Shadows of Paris, I’m posting this poem, not of Paris exactly, but when you read Shadows, you’ll know why this poem makes sense. The characters in his beautifully crafted story also “know something of transformation,” but that’s all I’ll say. You should discover it for yourself. Make your pilgrimage to Homebound Publications and buy your copy. Click again to get Lune de Miel, where this poem first appeared.
Pilgrim at Auvers
The pigeons at L’eglise Notre Dame know something
of transformation. White broods in a sky that has forgotten
color and the silhouette of clouds. A quiet stroll
through narrow, charcoal streets led me here,
up ancient stone steps to the church where Vincent
van Gogh saw blue-black sky churn in flight around
the toasted edifice. The flock perches until the hint
of something migratory and innate calls them to stir;
in hues of gray they erupt in a smooth arc, returning
to roost on the slants of the high, tilted steeple.
Winter weighs endurance and transition as stone erodes
to dust, leaves compost to mud, and summer flowers
that steadily surveyed August afternoons convert
to dried stalks in frozen dirt. Pilgrims, too, know of shifts
and I walk into the warm and lonely church to wait
for language to come again to my cold lips.
Fifteen hundred hours toll from the bell tower,
a grave listens at the top of the hill, and a downcast sun
aches to paint maize onto the bare winter scroll.
Here’s a poem that appeared in Reconnaissance, published by Homebound Publications in 2015.
A good snapshot stops a moment from running away. ~Eudora Welty
The dilemma is not
about choosing between
architecture or faces,
panorama or close-up,
indirect light or flash
the print’s future frame
and the quiet immobility
of reflection—of just sitting
and being, not worrying
about whether any of this
will be preserved digitally
and remembered in twelve
or thirteen years. Chances are,
tomorrow I will struggle
with recreating the bird
swaggering near my feet. Maybe
in some somnambulant day dream,
I’ll re-see these tiny
daisy-like weeds and hear
the passersby crunch gravel
under lazy sneakers. I might
be able to gather pieces
of foil and flattened cigarettes
from a mind cluttered
with fading poppies
and the leaves of a tree
I cannot name
blowing in a breeze.
It would be easier
if I didn’t love
every single pigeon, this one
with his spooky eyes and orange beak—
a single brushstroke
of white and teal beneath his neck,
and if the fence’s shadow
wasn’t so dappled and transient,
if acorns would stop falling
mid-distance between dawn
and dusk, long enough
to preserve their posts
in my mind. If forgoing
the shot and closing my eyes
would be enough to argue against
some future self
who will be too old or sad
or something worse
to remember this.
Check out these other great titles from Homebound Publications including new fiction by L.M. Browning and Eric D. Lehman, poetry by Andrew Jarvis and James Scott Smith, illustrated children’s literature by Elizabeth Slayton, and nonfiction by David K. Leff. Add Four Blue Eggs and Wildness: Voices of the Sacred Landscape to your book bag and you’ll be set (for a while)! Support independent publishers and writers who want to make a difference in the world. Save 20% and receive free shipping on orders over $35.00 with coupon code: SUMMERREADING20.
Check out this great new anthology. In celebration of the 5th anniversary of its founding, Homebound Publications is pleased to announce the publication of Wildness: Voices of the Sacred Landscape, featuring 19 authors including David K. Leff, L.M. Browning, Gunilla Norris, Theodore Richards, Gary Whited, Eric D. Lehman, and me.
Here’s a teaser from my essay “Choosing Peregrine.”
This peregrine is not too much bigger than a crow or mourning dove, but unmistakable, once I finally find her in my assisted gaze. We piece together the story.
Support Homebound, an independent, socially and environmentally conscious publisher. Purchase your copy today. Celebrate beauty; choose love. Be kind.
What to say of tomorrow’s
slow steps? The peaks that rise
from Glencoe carry weathered echoes
and gorges sliver slowly without
sympathy. The only way
to plea away erosion
is to chart the heart’s geology
and listen to the bagpiper’s
ageless song. The only way
to get up the mountain
is hand in hand.
I wrote “Hunger” as the introductory poem for A History of Connecticut Food: A Proud Tradition of Puddings, Clambakes, and Steamed Cheeseburgers, which I co-wrote with Eric D. Lehman and me. Pick up a copy today–a perfect complement for cookouts, farmers’ markets and the pick-your-own summer bounty.
What if the egg
never cracked or the slick moon
of a spoon never borrowed broth
from the blackened kettle
to meet our lips?
What if the apple tree
never shook in a spring storm
or a mantle of snow
never foretold future greens
and silky yellows?
If the cook never tested the pie
or the famished traveler
never asked for seconds,
whose heart would break
with meringue’s collapse
or the steak’s charred crust
folding toward a knife edge?
How would we nourish
our labors if not with
the earth’s capacity to feed us
and the tongue’s aptitude
How would we find
our true selves, spice and all,
without plunging hands
into a mound of dough
or stealing a lick with sloppy fingers?
Who will butter our bread
if not the crepuscular calls
of hunger from which we have
happily never escaped?