New Poems Up at Bellingham Review and Pontoon

I’m honored to have two poems published this month! “Amanda Bubble Crafts a New Creation Story” appears in Issue 71 of Bellingham Review; my thanks to former Editor-in-Chief Brenda Miller, current Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Paola Antonetta, former Managing Editor Ellie A. Rogers, and current Managing Editor Louis McLaughlin for including my poem. When you visit, please check out the gorgeous essay “He Worked as an Electrician. He Enjoyed Television. (His Obituary Was Plain.)” by Spokane poet Maya Jewell Zeller!

In addition, my poem “What Was Good about Going to Church” has been selected for this year’s issue of Pontoon, the journal of poems by Washington-state poets who submitted chapbook manuscripts to Floating Bridge Press. My thanks to everyone on the editorial committee at FBP! For the first time, Pontoon is now online, allowing wider access to readers. Here’s my poem, and here’s the first page of the Table of Contents (be sure to click through all four pages to read the whole issue). I hope you enjoy!

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A Little Story Involving Some Blasphemies in the Garden

Pulling weeds from the raised beds, I was feeling smug and virtuous for choosing to foodscape. We’ll eat lower on the food chain: more veggies, less meat. And the second week of June is never too early to put in your vegetables, right? I was further congratulating myself on allowing the tiny wild pea vines I was ripping out in handfuls to have served as a cover crop all these months. It had proliferated all through the spring: sweet little legume, enriching the soil with its nitrogen-fixing roots.

When I stood to look at the space I’d cleared, I saw about a billion displaced aphids squirming on the soil. Tiny green sugarbodies, suddenly exposed to the sun. They scuttled for the lifeboats, anything moist—grass blades, fir cones, pulled-up pea roots. I picked these up between gloved finger and thumb and dropped them into my wheelbarrow.

Disgusted, sorrowful, I returned two hours later. Toughen up, I told myself: the food chain never was for the faint of stomach. I spaded in compost and manure and the aphids’ billion sun-shriveled bodies. Mixed it all well. Planted my veg.

O goddess of solstice, O patron saint of sciatica, O receiver of insect souls: please bless my goddamn tomatoes.

 

Even though I’ve been negligent about posting lately, I have been catching up on my blog reading. During this week of holy days, one poem I keep going back to is my Chicago poet-friend Marilyn Cavicchia’s “Maybe the Rosemary.” In this piece, she sneaks up on the sacred in the shoes of her young children. She used that quietly brilliant stealth last week, too, in her magnificent poem “In the Beginning, There Was”–so please click back to her home page to enjoy that one, as well (I’m looking at *you*, Mr. Abu).
Happy Passover, Happy Easter, peace to you, peace to all, “cage free.”

Marilyn Rauch Cavicchia

Time to write about religion now,
after buying bananas and escarole,
after passing up a rosemary plant
that was blooming, which I have
never seen, which sent me on a
whole series of associations
(gardens, my mother, whose name
was Rosemary; she was a pilgrim
in the garden, always a transplant
and always seeking something—
blooming vigor, a pleasant surprise
brought about by her own two hands:
Oops! Look at that—this thing I have
tended, not even knowing for sure what
it was, is now exploding in splendor.)
But anyway, I was buying onions
and carrots, basil and bread,
showing Betty, my daughter,
how the eggs we buy are cage free,
certified humane. I was cringing
at my ostentatiousness, how I
justify myself out loud, and my
children were fighting, mainly
Joseph, my son, relentlessly
needling Betty because he is
smaller and knows he is smaller.
They both…

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NaPoWriMo Day 18 (Day 25 for Everyone Else)

This poem has been simmering for a couple of weeks now, ever since I used the persona-poem prompt to write about Abraham. Today, seeing a magnificent poem in the voice of Hagar, by Catherine Pritchard Childress at Vince Gotera’s blog, sent me back to work on the new poem, this time from Sarah’s point of view:

SARAH BREAKS HER SILENCE

Some time later I tested Abraham
by bidding him to lie with my servant-woman, Hagar.
It had been many years since The Speaking
granting us a land for our descendants–
and my husband was feeling keenly his dearth
of descendants. I suspected that his trust
in The Speaker was growing shaky (imperceptibly
to all but me), like both of our wrinkling hands.

I myself had never doubted
that the promised child was far off.
I knew that for a time, The Speaker was just keeping
His word to Himself. And often,
in the hot afternoons when the tent grew quiet
and the livestock slept, faintly I could hear
the approaching child’s laughter fluttering
around my body like a gossamer cloak.

Besides, I remembered clearly
my own Speaking vision, given when my father
gave me in marriage to his brother:
I half heard, half saw, fully knew my husband’s destiny
would be to try to carve a blade into our future son’s lean neck
the way his own father had sliced and gouged
temple idols out of oak. In this way I knew
my husband, in consenting to turn upon our son,
would turn away from me and from every deity of trees.

Thus at Mamre, it was not just my laughter
but my own cracking bark I heard
upon the visitors’ Speech announcing
our next-year baby. That, and the chopping fall
of all the oak Asherah poles outside His future temples–
and my betrayal by a Deity without roots.

NaPoWriMo, Day 2 (Day 7 for Everybody Else)

Today’s prompt is to choose a color and then to “dye” the poem with that color.

Also, not uncoincidentally, Happy Easter.

Red

Easter week, post-mastectomy,
my mother asks me to check
the bandage over her incision.
Below her ribs I see the tube
draining fluid and blood
from higher up, where
her left breast used to be.
I hesitate because this is her body,
broken for R.J. Reynolds. This is
her blood, shed for Philip Morris.
Fifty years they pierced her inside.
Fifty more it will take me
to forgive them. Still,
she is up and around again,
just three days after
her surgery. Surgeon says
when the flow of blood
and fluid drops, he will pull
the drainage tube and she
will be free and whole, ready
for the rest of her life.