April isn’t necessarily the cruellest month, as T.S. Eliot so famously said. After all, April is National Poetry month, the start of baseball and the NHL playoffs, and the month when the trails finally clear for riding and hiking–though you can still go skiing, if you’re that sort.
It’s a month of transition and hope. So why not celebrate with two issues of poetry? (Yes, why not.)
I hope you enjoy this first, early-in-the-month collection, written by some very fine poets. And if there’s a theme to be found here, it’s perhaps that springtime is an ideal time for words of affection and dedication. Like most poems, these serve as odes–songs of fierce love and humble presence. Just as we’re digging out from the wilds of winter and beginning to embrace that most powerful of natural forces: renewal.
Single flower, fingers
curled and knuckled a deep purple,
you release your grasp––
yellow fairy dust drops
in a pile beneath you, last effort
to pollinate the green
paint of my windowsill.
Sunlight still sparking
your dried crown of pistils––
coneflower or daisy or
whatever you once were––
the dust of you is more lovely.
ALTAR OF THE UNCIVILIZED
He tends to bring home
trinkets of life. A leaf in full death
color. A cricket in the launching pad
of his hand. Slices of mica,
such flattened fragile opal, and
pyrite’s chiseled mirrors with their lifey illusions,
once volcanic, hardened in time.
He is my young lover, one who still
wanders and discovers
lichen between sidewalks,
a lush universe in the crack of cement.
Or a yucca seed pod, maraca, worth saving.
He is my partner in such things,
by choice childless as we are.
My older brother
has rediscovered lightning bugs
with his own children.
He had forgotten
how we used to light up lantern jars
of them, after a successful July’s eve.
Their bodies glowing like saints.
Today, my lover gifts me
with a sunflower trinity, one,
a dried saucer husk, petals long dropped,
one in full sun bloom, its brown eye surprised,
and one with petals tucked,
a hand of prayers
full of hope.
On a gorgeous morning
robins and crows color
a clear turquoise sky
and greet the new day
in a ceremonious way,
jackrabbits pop like popcorn
from the bushes and flee
near Castle Air Force Base
where B-52’s lumber low over us
chop our ears and
rumble the earth,
the sun rises like a
big orange beach ball
over an ancient barn
already the air swelters
already the sun declares:
Tomato time again
men and strain.
even little kids pick-pick-pick
old men pick-pick-pick
red tomatoes dropped
into plastic buckets
reverberate like drum rolls:
No time to waste, time is money
across the rows
across the plants
across slippery sand
across the Garcias thirteen of them
We race back and forth to big gondolas
waiting for us to hurry and fill them
dumping our buckets and
counting our pennies piling-up
while all day the sun declares:
Tomato time again
men and strain.
He said, the letters of the alphabet
keep getting bigger. He said
his cup looked like a tank.
He was scared, he cried,
he threw up everywhere.
The next morning he didn’t remember.
He felt fine. He got dressed,
played, ate a huge breakfast,
ran to school.
Meanwhile I’m still not recovered.
I can’t recover from anything he does.
I still haven’t recovered from just
LOVE POEM FOR MY DAUGHTER
The I way I love her is
completely crazy. It’s unrequited.
Oh, I know she loves me –
but she doesn’t love me this way,
the way I love her, which is
that I’m already angry,
F U R I O U S,
with people in the future
who don’t love her enough.
Like I want to actually murder
these future people, commit violent,
bloody murder, with weapons,
or, if necessary, my bare hands.
IN THE WOODS
In the woods,
lift the edge of a hollow log.
Roll it upward
at the slightest angle,
then peer beneath.
Feel the crumble
of its crust
while its shocked
at its underbelly.
of its decay.
Then look up.
All the way.
Nothing less than a miracle
nothing less returns majesty
to what you hold
in your hands.
Rippling span of sky.
Everyone is small out West.
Skin and raindrops—
sounds strengthen silence.
An unwashed moon;
somewhere a fire is burning.
One grain of sand held
in my palm, as well my hand
against this mountain.
reaches out of my tea-spoon
to wrestle the air;
breath in the morning.
The thing she missed most about being
home was the sound of doors closing.
TAKING refuge in the dried-up corner coffee shop;
the pavement outside is hot like a guitar case.
The man reminisces as he bends wire
into things he imagines;
They hang from his belt,
His beard, from his face.
WALKING out at night,
Bitter gusts rake through to prey on faces.
Halting ragtime descends from a high window onto my head;
In the morning, it is snow.
HERDS graze the tarmac, steel wings folded;
Weightless daydreams are written on their clear dull eyes.
At the towering window pane,
A monarch butterfly is glittering.
—after Charles Reznikoff
Yesterday, a woman crouched
on volcanic headlands at La Perouse
inside the Pacific Ring of Fire:
a High Plains woman, almost blown away
by trade winds that snatch the breath
as it leaves the lungs
in that lava landscape,
the newest earth on Earth.
Today she’s back where she belongs,
facing a snow-skimmed cordillera,
shaking Kihei sand from a canvas bag.
Back to watch the muted prairie spring begin.
Give her a minute.
She doesn’t know
how dull we are before we hear
what we don’t want to learn.
She can’t see it from where she stands,
but a steep trail climbs a far pass, disappears
in a field of scree.
Crooked peaks gleam.
The grass is dry.
The grass is tall,
the path marked
with red crumbs
of ancestral peaks.
the sun calls
to new leaves
in fat buds
lining the limbs
of awakening trees.
With this child
in my arms,
strapped in a pack,
I climb the sky listening
A Colorado native, Henry Bradford has written with the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver since the start of its youth program, and was a founding member of its youth council. He is currently in his third year pursuing a double major in Linguistics and English at Haverford College in Pennsylvania.
A native of Syracuse, New York and a graduate of Syracuse University, Karen DeGroot Carter has had her writings published in a variety of publications and websites. She is the author of the novel One Sister’s Song. Her blog, BEYOND Understanding, highlights resources that promote tolerance and celebrate diversity. Karen lives with her family in Lone Tree Colorado, where she works as a freelance copy editor.
Ginny Hoyle is a Denver writer who traded the Atlantic Ocean for the Rocky Mountains long ago and only regrets it on that rare summer day–when you stop in your tracks and close your eyes with pleasure, because you’d know a sea breeze anywhere.
Manny Moreno is from the San Joaquin Valley. Visit his website to learn more about him: http://monolinmannymoreno.yolasite.com.
Anna Napp is a poet who currently resides in Denver, Colorado. She has a MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her work has appeared in Lumina, Snowline Poetry Journal, In Other Words and The Painted Moon Review.
Marie Ostarello received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College. Her poems, stories and essays have appeared in The Southeast Review, Hunger Mountain and Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, the last of which nominated her work for a Pushcart Prize. She currently directs BOOM!, a student literary magazine at Manual High School in Denver.
Jessy Randall’s most recent book is Injecting Dreams into Cows (Red Hen Press, 2012). She is a librarian at Colorado College and her website is http://personalwebs.coloradocollege.edu/~jrandall/.