Join me and 17 other authors from Connecticut at the Read Local Author Fair. Saturday, March 24 from 11-1:00 at the Riverfront Community Center, 300 Welles Street, Glastonbury, CT 06033. I’ll be there with copies of The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory (in advance of its official release date!) as well as Reconnaissance, Four Blue Eggs, Literary Connecticut, A History of Connecticut Food, and A History of Connecticut Wine. Come out and show your support for local authors. In the meantime, follow my poetry progress with Tupelo Press and support Homebound Publications.
I can’t believe it’s already day 12 with Tupelo Press and my 30/30 project. Have you been keeping up with all 96 poems? That’s 96 poems (8 poets for March x 12 days, so far. . . ) and more to come.
Follow us into spring. Tomorrow promises more snow. Find the poems inspired by these pictures. Sponsorships and donations still welcome! While you’re feeling generous, order a copy of The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory Because writing matters and so does supporting those who bring it to you, get yourself a tee shirt and Stay Wild!
I’m excited to be part of Tupelo Press’s 30/30 project. I will be joining 173 poets who committed to this daily practice of shaping words on the page. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I look forward to pushing myself. I start March 1st.
If you write or read or just want to try to make the world a better place through art, please support my efforts. Fundraising supports Tupelo Press and helps me stay motivated. Writers need readers: make poetry a part of your March.
With A Brief History of Time occupying the top spot of my pile of bedside books, I’ve had space and time on my mind lately. So, four poems (small input, I know) toward a unified theory of the universe.
The Sky’s Version of Truth
So what about the laziness
of light, taking its sweet old time
getting to the eye. The sky
having no reason to be false
teaches memory, a peek
of what old people must have seen:
Cassiopeia learning to dance, Orion
earning his bow, Taurus deciding
to charge. A navigator’s dream.
What the eye catches is an old light.
What we rely on most is thriftiness.
Whatever speed it takes,
the open road is just dotted lines
a tree’s last goodbye to summer,
just lament. It’s a different kind
of blindness—seeing too much
seeing with the heart, light alone
or a blade of grass.
Loving the blindness, the eye sees a pattern:
the round dome of sky,
the traffic of night, ad infinitum.
Connect the dots the sky is saying.
I see a banjo, the spokes of a wheel,
the claw of a crow catching me. Maybe
a duck-billed platypus playing the trumpet.
I can almost hear a star’s last sigh.
Perhaps legacy is spelled out
the way memory returns to you
so many years later: you remember
the leaves, the rain, the sound
of a breath stopping three rooms away.
The summer after the diagnosis
we visited their beach house on the Cape,
taking the route through those warped
highways, drawbridges, and rotaries
made for delirium.
What to talk about with my mother’s friends
but the growth of children and the palace
of sea breeze, while the bug zapper
murdered hordes of bugs. What to say
of radiation treatment? What to say
of closure, that our meeting here
is the beginning of goodbye.
That night I met neighborhood kids,
joined them for bonfire and beers,
and dreamt of snakes.
After the First Kiss
Venus enters the fourth chamber,
meanders like a comet
through the claret landscape.
Finding it pleasantly blood filled,
she maroons and takes in the scope,
settles where the black holes leading
to outer galaxies close and open
mechanically, leaving no light.
Reclining with the boon of ancient history
pulsing like a red giant around her,
it’s no wonder she feels safe here
in the calibrated darkness. It is time,
she thinks, to postulate the theory,
time to introduce a little magic
into this hollow topography.
And with the red shift, she exits
taking with her tales of time travel
and the red fire of oxygen.
Slipping past the mouth’s gate,
she exchanges the good air and leaves
the secrets of human love.
While Constellations Sleep
I press my lips against your cheek,
brush a loose strand from your head,
and fold into midnight blue slumber.
Night watches over its sleepyheads
as a dim light trickles between the slant
of the curtains—perhaps the moon,
perhaps a lonely streetlight peeking in,
searching for companions to embrace.
The kittens tiptoe in, waking me to gaze
silently out the window. But I cannot see
the stars tonight; Orion’s belt brightens
someone’s sky beyond the clouds, beyond
the glossy shell of New Haven’s bubble of light.
The dippers are out of reach, the dragon
has slowed his brutal tail, resting above
the horizon. But I see the constellations
of your face even as you sleep. Wishing
to rescue light from the galaxies you dream,
I trace the pattern of your eyelashes and
telescope into the nebula of your love.
To celebrating the release of the second edition of Reconnaissance, enjoy this poem about first editions. Click the title to order your own first edition at a special discounted price.
I apprenticed well. For a sixth grade project,
Mrs. Montecalvo taught me the worth
of a good forgery when she assigned
the footnoted history of a painter
and encouraged an attempt at imitation.
Seeing Monet’s Westminster Bridge reprinted
in Reader’s Digest, I modeled my own
with schoolgirl brushes and an aptitude
for blending. I typed his biography
on a blue Remington, stenciled a title page,
punched symmetrical holes and glued
the masterpiece into a pocketed folder.
I never got the stink of acrylic off my fingers.
Audacity and small victories: these
are gateways for any scavenger.
Once one is secure in the false flat
of a sloped horizon, transformations
are easy: an open book, so to speak.
I pocketed the Collected Poems
of ee cummings wholesale, tore
the bar code from the last page
and slipped its frayed spine between
loose-leaf sheets of unlined
but perforated notebooks. Long after,
the card catalog entry went away too.
Like other trophies, I just stored it,
held it in a box of pressed flowers
and half memorized poems, among
generous piles of pens and paint brushes,
newspaper clippings and dirty love letters
scribbled on the backs of postcards.
For these corruptions I’ve paid only
in callouses and broken pencil tips.
Despite my best calligraphy,
slippery pens have crossed out
entire lines carefully typeset in Linotype
or Century Schoolbook, my marks bleeding
through pages now unreadable.
In the gray area between homage
and sacrilege, I thieve too much:
red wheelbarrows pile full of leaves and dirt
and burnable logs pressed into the pulp
of scrap paper or woven into stretchable
canvases. Little I see in nature
that is my own. I stole van Gogh’s sadness
and painted it on my shoulder.
Like Olympia, I learned how to stare.
Next time, let me mimic the syntax of bridges
and throw sand over wet, stolen ink.
Let me trust in surveillance. Once the thief
learns to discern original from run of the mill
everything is a first edition; everything
is one of a kind.
My poem, “What I forgot to Ask” was recently selected for the Austin International Poetry Festival Anthology di-verse-city. The poem found its way into the world after I watched a peregrine falcon lunch on a nuthatch in my front lawn. The nuthatch is unconfirmed, and “lawn” is a generous term for the smattering of beeches and oaks in front of the house.
I missed the reading in Austin, but I’ll savor anthology when it arrives–a long list of talented poets. To order a copy click here. Celebrate National Poetry Month with a bird, cat, human, or mouse of your choice.
(photo courtesy of National Geographic)
What I Forgot to Ask
I do it all the time, mistake flight for freedom;
escape for repentance. If only,
like a peregrine, I didn’t have to explain
my silences or defend my stealth. She descends
cliff ledges with confidence under cover
of camouflage. I cannot leave
this nest of caked mud and broken twigs
or cradle the updraft between fingers.
Too much captivity makes a girl tired.
What language do you have
for the barren days when nothing catches your eye,
when speed doesn’t win? Is there ever an hour
when you want no wings? to tuck feathers away
and wobble on talons like a cripple?
Tell me about the wind, the kind
that quiets fear and lengthens your cries
into inaudible whispers. When do you rest?
For more peregrine inspired work, see my essay “Choosing Peregrine” in the Homebound Publications anthology, Wildness: Voices of the Sacred Landscape
Watching the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, I again considered the junction between permanence and artistic expression. The film which is about, among other things, street art, made me wonder about the image (or object), the artist, and about what happens to both when the image is done. Gone or preserved. Momentary, like the croak of a frog or lasting like the croak of a frog through the forest of time.
For a while now, Eric has been encouraging me to see the origami I make as more than just folded paper. I know origami is much more than folded paper; it’s ancient, expressive, precise, colorful, intricate, disciplined, beautiful, worrisome, elegant–both object and idea. My pieces mean a lot to me, and I save them. They’re made, crafted with skill (varying levels in my case). While I’m following a pattern, each piece is built with my choice of paper and pattern, creased by a few sensitive fingers that create mountains or valley folds, which become cranes, boxes, pinwheels, decahedrons, fish, turtles, and flowers. Eric thinks they’re amazing. What to do with them?
First, we thought of photography as a means to document and also preserve them. (I’ve also tried lacquer, but not so good). Then the photos become art too. Or do they? What about creating a new art form? How . . . maybe why? So far, I’ve come up with versigami–combining poems, shapes, and photography. It’s a work in progress. Here are some of my first efforts.
Poems “Accountability” (crane) and “Losing the Summer” (box) took shape when I printed the text onto the paper then folded it. New? Maybe.
As part of the process, I had to figure out how to get the text to anticipate the folds, not as easy as I thought it would be. More to the point, I had to start to see ahead to the folds. Where the words appeared on the paper was important. Without the dexterity of a good design program, this proved more complicated than my four-o’clock self really could handle. After a few print outs (and font fun), I could find a balance between words and no words. My poems are more permanent to me in print–for this project I want typed words, not handwritten ones.
There was also the matter of what the actual poem says. I want the words to mean what they mean as a stand alone poem, but also in this new manifestation of versigami. “Losing the Summer” worked well because it’s about, well, loss–the missing pieces. I liked that as a visual theme as much as a written one.
I would like to experiment more with shape, text, process, and finality.
Amy Nawrocki was on summer break from her freshman year at Sarah Lawrence College in June of 1992 . . . [Read more
Origins. Versigami, transience, permanence, folded and unfolded. “Such a thing is not /
“Such a thing is not / a deformity, but a bud.”
Preparing for tomorrow’s class, I remembered this essay from 2012 posted on Books New Haven:
Why are people so afraid of poetry? That’s a question that’s been plaguing poet Amy Nawrocki, of Hamden. Now, with her new collection, Lune de Miel, being released in August, she talks …
Copies of Lune de Miel, which came out in 2012 can be purchased by clicking the tab: Purchase Signed Copies.
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.
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.