Saturday, December 28, 2013
"The world on paper..." - I first encountered Morris's poetry in the Gay & Lesbian Review. It featured her poem "Cliffside" and I wanted to read more of her poetry. While that poem is not in this colle
ction - this collection is filled to the brim with very personal and trusting moments that I enjoyed. Morris's directness and honesty in her style is what hooked me. Right from the opener: "Desire became a country where I lived," Morris invited me in to her journey. Sparks of individuality are paired with shared experiences: "for everything is almost about to happen", "I left the ocean for you", "The list is the affliction / My foremothers brought out of Egypt" and -
"Don't toy with it/
It is the work of decades
In a bowl."
I have re-read this chapbook several times over the last two weeks. I want to pass this along to a friend - so another is going in today's cart for order.
come the backyard
across its spanse
come the wood
and in the back
of my mind
was the knowing
that I should
get my coat, my scarf, my gloves
and walk there,
this above –
for this may be the last time –
it’s been that way before…
where first Gina & I ran,
and took it all so fast
when stung back by the nettles
we wandered into by accident,
that was among the last.
And where in a later Summer
we went wild
and in the wood went deep
took to hunt its very spirit,
all the magic we could keep
and worked well
and worked true
what Gina & I couldn’t do –
that was among the last.
And when Grandma Fenner passed away –
we wouldn’t go
so at Grandma Betty’s we stayed –
and ran out into the woods
to find the right trees
and loose our dreams again.
Where once I saw a deer or two
and heard dogs and other noises,
here now I see the snow
and wait –
when next I came it was
mom & I alone…
and Great Grandma Detty’s funeral…
I wandered through the
wood for hours and
kicked up leaves
and cried for all the silly things
in my silly life
that had died
and all the stupid confusion
I sometimes feel inside…
that still sometimes comes to pass,
that I have not felt for the last –
for as I stand here staring,
through the back window
comes the backyard
across its whiteness –
the wood stares back.
It looks so tiny
No reason to ride on uncle’s shoulders
above the nettles & vines…
no need to run with sisters
in case one gets lost
though I feel it’s true
these things would be nice.
I stare out at the wood
and it’s been put up for sale:
the wood, the yard, the house –
that I should
grab my coat and fly there
and let those lonely limbs
take me in again
but I make excuses
too tired, too cold, the wind –
that was among the last…
so lost, so cold, confused –
I press against the glass –
the weeping wood
what I won’t forget…
their names –
I whisper them softly,
“…Mother Tree, Fallen Bridge, and
I wave to them weakly –
for this may be the last time.
12.25.93 / eaf
Thursday, November 28, 2013
"Grow up. I'll see you at midnight." This book won me over - but I was well-near 1/3 in when it happened. The stream of conscious angst of a teenager - swinging from highs to lows and back - was neatly done, but almost drowned out any compassion for young Elio. Elio vibrates with constant need offset by awkward uncertainty. It is so raw and so real, to me, it was painful to read and struck close to home.
The author's writing at all times is sharp and fantastic. It calls up some great lines and fantastic images: "youth has no shame, shame comes with age"; "I was circling wagons around my life"; "unreal joy, joy with a noose tied around it"; "I'm tied up in so many knots that I need the Gordian treatment"; "all that remains is dreammaking and strange rememberance".
What made this story a keeper - was it's Narnia moments: "It never occurred to me that I had brought him here not just to show him my little world, but to ask my little world to let him in." - "where I dreamed of you before you came into life." The truth in the notion that in opening up to anyone - there's that fear of having what is mine rejected or having what is mine doing the rejecting. The heart versus the brain versus the spirit. And the award of acceptance: "two nights ago you added an annual ring to my soul." The story holds strong with that effect - and its counterpoint: "time is always borrowed, and that the lending agency exacts its premium precisely when we are least prepared to pay and need to borrow more."
The growth of Elio through his opening - in heart and in spirit - is great to follow as he ages and progresses through his love and his understanding of his love for Oliver.
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Renowned champions of consensuality,
Monday, September 23, 2013
This is the final day of years of sweetness.
You have been gone a year.
The taste of you has stayed with me
these twelve months, your honeyed warmth
lingering on my limbs.
Today, I sit on a floating dock by the river,
listening to the faint hum of insects as I enter
a rippling that flows from a center
I have yet to find.
For your last meal, you wanted sweetness—
lemon sorbet in a paper cup— and I watched
the nurse spoon it into your waiting mouth
as if you were an infant, watched you savor
a sweetness that would carry you out.
It is autumn again, and the trees have begun
their fierce burning. Remember how we
walked through scarlet and gold, stooping
to pick up the best of the fallen? How I sent
some to my mother just weeks before she died,
sealing them in an envelope with the kiss
of my saliva?
Today, I give our sweetness to this river,
send it out on floating yellow leaves
that flicker on the water like candles
for the dead.
© Penny Harter
From Recycling Starlight, in-press with Mountains & Rivers Press, 2010.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Middle-aged life is merry, and I love to lead it,
But there comes a day when your eyes are all right but your
arm long enough to hold the telephone book where you can read it,
And your friends get jocular, so you go to the oculist,
And of all your friends he is the joculist,
So over his facetiousness let us skim,
Only noting that he has been waiting for you ever since you
said Good evening to his grandfather clock under the
impression that it was him,
And you look at his chart and it says SHRDLU QWERTYOP,
and you say Well, why SHRDNTLU QWERTYOP? and
he says one set of glasses won't do.
You need two.
One for reading Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason and
Keats's "Endymion" with,
And the other for walking around without saying Hello to
strange wymion with.
So you spend your time taking off your seeing glasses to put
on your reading glasses, and then remembering that your
reading glasses are upstairs or in the car,
And then you can't find your seeing glasses again because
without them on you can't see where they are.
Enough of such misshaps, they would try the patience of an
I prefer to forget both pairs of glasses and pass my declining
years saluting strange women and grandfather clocks.
Copyright © by Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt.