Celebrate National Poetry Month with the West End Poetry Society, recorded April 15 and featuring Sonya Huber, Amy Nawrocki, Joan Seliger Sidney, Elizabeth Thomas and Faith Vicinanza. The reading was also a fundraiser for the St. Francis Hospital Mandell Center for Multiple Sclerosis.
West End Poetry Festival
Our class activity today in my Contemporary Poetry class was to create a blackout poem. I used Howard Nemerov’s poem “On Being Asked for a Peace Poem” (1973) from The 20th Century in Poetry. Happy National Poetry Month.
April is the month long celebration of poetry. Join me and other poets at these events:
Sunday, April 10, 1 p.m. at the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery, 7 Canal Street, Westerly, Rhode Island
Friday, April 15, 7 p.m. at Byrd’s Books, 126 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, Connecticut
Saturday, April 23, 2 p.m. at the Minor Memorial Library, 23 South Street, Roxbury, Connecticut
Support the arts and poetry in your community. Participate in other events and activities.
For the last day of National Poetry Month, pick up a poem and put it in your pocket, then share it. It’s not a bad idea to do this every day. A poem a day keeps the doctor away.
Here are two poems I kept in my pocket for years.
since feeling is first
By e.e. cummings
since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves,
and kisses are better fate
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says
we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis
Dream Song 14
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no
Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,
who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.
My poem, “What Jodie Taught Me about Tattoos” is featured on Homebound Publication’s website, promoting the release of Reconnaissance and celebrating National Poetry Month.
Jodie had a beautiful spirit, and though she had gone through a lot in her life, she made laugh and smile, and made an otherwise uncomfortable freshman year of college tolerable. Her family continues her memory and honors her with the Jodie S. Lane Public Safety Foundation. Please read about their work and the mission to improve public safety and and education about stray power lines.
What Jodie Taught Me about Tattoos
—for Jodie Lane
She could not be buried,
her father told her,
with ink scalpelled into skin,
defacement of the body
prohibited by Jewish law.
With spider legs painted
around skull’s demon visage,
she wore hers without apology
under stringy tank tops
and the ripped sarcasm
of baggy sweats around
a petite frame. She confided
obsessions over cigarettes
blurred into the falling leaves
of freshman year laughing,
never telling stories
of spiders or skulls, not minding
the sunflower I chose
for my own mark. We wanted
to ink into the eternal, forge
the intransient specter
of adulthood with scars
of our own making.
The last time I saw her
we sat for coffee between
darkened booths at the local
diner. A postcard sent
from Texas came a few years
later and then abbreviated
obituary lines stapled
between the alumni magazine,
accident walking dogs,
voltage engraving her body
with ungrounded shrieks
through a Manhattan sidewalk.
East 11th street is pocketed
with sewer drains and manholes,
and a street sign marks
the site where she fell.
I stare up into the permanence
of the story, one I kept hidden
in the flower on my shoulder,
the rumor of loss now etched
in visible lettering across
an overcast sky, persisting
beyond a combustible
and porous layer of skin.
Head over to Homebound Publications for all you need for National Poetry Month, and get ready for Poem in Your Pocket Day. Here’s a selection from Reconnaissance and my little son, Django, who inspired the poem:
Look for Reconnaissance in paperback and ebook, on Amazon, Kindle, and Nook or ask for it in your local indie bookstore.
Justifying the Ways of Animals to God
Having little or no knowledge
about the fall of man,
the boy approaches the ringneck
with the zeal of a crusader
without pausing, as there is
nothing eternal to consider.
The confession had been shed already:
flaky, transparent skin hidden
beneath a rug in the unheated summer room—
the yellow necklace collaring
a brand-new black form.
The saga unfolds quietly
unaided by the dramatic pauses
of scripture nor capped off
with sermons on forgiveness.
The bite is swift, but not final:
there must be suffering.
Rebellion, pride, seduction—
these do not enter the minds of snakes
and a cat cannot tell a fallen angel
from a demon dancing
in the living room’s haloed light.
To get a jump start on National Poetry Month in April, and to celebrate the upcoming release of Reconnaissance, check out
After Making Love to Lord Byron
on the Morning of My Thirty-seventh Birthday
He left me once the broken blue
of dawn came through the window, . . .
* * *
Click here for the full poem. Order the full collection today and get it shipped two weeks early.
The poem was first published in issue 2 of Garbanzo Literary Journal
Press release from the University of Bridgeport.