Featured Poet: Charlie Scott

This has been a wonderful month of poems. I’ve enjoyed all the work people have shared with me, and sharing it with you. As I’ve said before, I received so many wonderful pieces that I just couldn’t fit in for lack of days. If you had fun reading this series, I hope you’ll check out the rest of the works by these poets. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet of all the good stuff out there by these talented writers.

I’m going to end this year’s National Poetry Month series with one by Charlie Scott, my colleague and friend — and one of my poetry mentors from college. Speaking of college, news broke this week that the dorm complex where I lived when I attended there is going to be torn down. This news rallied literally hundreds of people who lived in those dorms within roughly the same decade and change to join together on Facebook and — reconnect.

Yes, many of us were already friends on Facebook. But prompted to share this news in a viral fashion, we found more than just each other. We found those we hadn’t kept in touch with. Friends of friends who were once friends of ours, like ripples in a pond, stretched in widening concentric circles until, within forty-eight hours, we had our own new Facebook group with (so far) 615 members (and counting — in fact, two more joined just since I started writing this blog post). People have been posting memories, anecdotes, photos.

I admit the volume of FB notifications has been overwhelming.

We’re planning a reunion before they raze the buildings. But honestly we’re having the reunion already, and it’s wonderful, and I cannot wait to be at that party and see so many people after the decades we’ve been apart. We’ll have to plan it far enough in advance for everyone to come back from the four corners of the country, from the outer bands of the planet. People are talking about doing this, and I hope they’re serious.

Bittersweet in all of this, of course, is that not all of us are still around. People have died. Our classmates, our friends. They died young and tragically and left so many behind. Some of them still have active Facebook accounts, and on the anniversaries of their births, Facebook reminds is to wish them a happy birthday and offers us a chance to send them a gift.

And we remember them, with love and fondness and occasionally the temptation to get, as Tim O’Brien cautioned against, sentimental about the dead. But we do not forget; we cling. And the fact that we can? That in itself is a gift.

 

***

 

ELEGY: TO BOB

 

Funny thing. When I sign up
for an on-line account
of some kind and am asked
to answer one of those
“security questions,” that question
has on occasion been, “What
was the last name of your first
childhood friend?” More
often than not (and I guess here
I’m handing all you hackers
out there a freebee), my answer
to this query has been
“Jordan.” The good thing is that
that answer will be always
the correct and, shall we say, perfect
one. Those memories do not
vanish. They persist. But people do
vanish and they don’t
persist, and when they do and do
not, my goodness, that’s bad.

 

***

 

Charlie Scott has published one full-length collection of poetry, So Much for Borders, and two chapbooks, The River Is Laughter and Methodoglia1. His poetry has appeared in several journals, including The New RepublicThe Antioch Review, Western Humanities Review, and Zocalo Public Square.

 

 

 

Featured Poet: Cindy Clayton

Tonight’s poem is from another not-a-poet-for-her-day-job, Cindy Clayton. She is a good friend of mine, and she always loves to participate in whatever call for poetry I have her on my blog, and I love it when she does, because her poems are so much fun. I especially like the way her poem just strolls around, all natural-like, and then — bazinga! — really gets you at the end.

 

***

 

What I learned from mythology:

 

Never direct insults at those with terrible powers
and vengeful natures.

 

If you wish to be deathless,
you must also wish to be ageless.

 

Lie low, pretty young women,
lest someone from the pantheon claim you
and proceed with all manner of indignities.

 

If you need to do something that’s impossible,
get a god to sponsor your endeavor
and you may just have a chance.

 

No defensive mechanism exists which can’t be beaten
with a little ingenuity.

 

Should you happen to spot a goddess in the altogether,
turn quickly away
and just keep walking.

 

Metamorphosis is forever, so think twice—
unless you’re a god,
in which case the sky’s the limit.

 

But usually, a simple disguise will serve
when you’re in a tight spot.

 

And if your story is utterly tragic, or impressively heroic,
or you manage to please the right deity,

 

You could end up among the stars.

Featured Poet: Harlan Howe

So if I must be brutally honest, Harlan Howe is not usually (to the best of my knowledge), regularly, a poet. He’s awesome at computers and tech and teaching, but poetry isn’t his main line of work.

We had a Book Spine Poetry at school this month, though, and his entry was really good, and so I wanted to share it with you. Remember, Book Spine Poetry is a relatively easy game that takes very little time to play. If you do it, I really want to know! Send me a .jpg of yours to my email address: forest [dot] of [dot] diamonds [at] gmail [dot] com. Put “Books Spine Poem” in the title, and I’ll feature it on my blog.

Here’s Harlan’s:

 

Harlan's BSP

 

 

And here’s the text of it, in case the picture isn’t clear:

 

the world’s strongest librarian
found
a case of exploding mangoes
in the stacks
No! I don’t want to join a book club

 

 

Featured Poet: Mike Alexander

I received so many wonderful poetry submissions this year for this Poet-A-Day series, and while I couldn’t use every poem I was sent, I really enjoyed reading them all and curating this series again this year. Thank you to everyone who participated!

I wanted to share one more of Mike Alexander’s oems with you before this series ran out. This poem appeared in an online zine called Worm and then also in his book Retrograde.

***

The Great Year

We wake up the same
as any other day,
blind, naked, hurrying
to put the bathroom door
between us. We know
the day, set
in motion, spins us
out of our shared orbit.

Plato might try to console
the parted lovers with a story
about caves & philosophic
light, but then Freud
would be quick to explain
the darker overtones,
hysteria, birth trauma,
fantasies of sexual
adequacy.

.             No wonder
the working world steers
clear of either pole
as fast as it can spin.
We wake, & it’s
too late for aubades,
refusals, leaving that door
open.

.        Plato says
all cycles come full circle,
somewhere in his dialogues,
I don’t care where.
Only that we still hope
for moving bodies parted
in individual circles
to approach, to recognize
each other, returning
to warm sheets.

***

Mike Alexander ran the Mausoleum weekly poetry open mic for six years of its ten-year run. His book Retrograde came out in 2013, & his most recent chapbook was We Internet in Different Voices.

Featured Poet: Christa M. Forster

A few weeks ago, physicist Brian Greene visited the high school where I teach and gave an assembly about string theory and other exciting scientific matters, and then he worked with individual science classes on specialized topics. His visit was, in a word, fascinating, but if I tried to explain the highlights of his presentation, I would fail miserably. Greene is such an accessible speaker, which is in part what he’s known for, that I had no difficulty understanding any of what he said, but I could not hope to duplicate his explanations without at least an outline, and I was listening and enjoying his talk too much to take notes. I suppose this qualifies as a “you had to be there” moment?

Some of my colleagues did take notes, though, and it was interesting to chat with them after the assembly to find out what resonated most with them. One of my fellow English teachers, also a fiction writer, focused on the disparities between micro and macro in the theory of relativity and the metaphor of how big things and little things meshing don’t always make for successful communication.

Christa M. Forster, whose review of Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars showed up here this month as the Women Writers Wednesday series intersected with National Poetry Month, wrote this poem after the assembly.

***

For Brian Greene, a Poem
.
 

You don’t know what matter is
but you know how to stick it
into the cast-iron meat grinder
your sister once convinced you
to put your pinky finger in.

You did it even though
your mother warned you
against doing it.

Your sister with her scrambled
egg curls and Mediterranean eyes
smiled at you and commenced
to grind away your little finger, which,
once she started, was stuck, and you

(only three and no knowledge
of the pink and white fragility
of flesh) saw what it really was:

meat.


***

Christa Forster: Writer, Teacher, Performer whose goal is to make life more meaningful for herself and others through Education and Art. Follow her on Twitter @xtaforster.

Featured Poet: Sharon Robinson

Today was Arbor Day, so I thought I’d share this gem from Sharon Lia Robinson.

 

***

 

Skagit Valley Forest

 

tonight
light and silent
the tree seemed to say
come close

the tree saying be,
be together in your soul
your center yourself

newly planted and old
the trees sing and say
we see you
feel yourself
know you

we are here too
in the breath of our earth
we hear you
we know you too, your reaching
we know you too, your reaching.

 

***

 

Sharon Lia Robinson is a visual artist, documentary film producer, poet and writer. Her creative mission reflects the desire to inspire others through her artistic vision. Early life challenges and the desire for tikkun olam (healing and restoration in the world) are also reflected in her creative projects. More of Sharon’s art, poetry and films may be seen at www.sharonrobinson.org.

 

 

Featured Poet: The Bard

It’s Shakespeare’s birthday (observed), and I ran across one of his sonnets today that I didn’t remember having read before (though maybe I did in college).

 

***

 

Sonnet 73

 

That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

 

***

 

Do I really need to give you biographical information about William Shakespeare? How about this: he wasn’t Francis Bacon.