Sunday, 25 June 2017

Another Morning on Earth

by Meryl Natchez


On the altar in the living room, pictures of my parents,
my brother at 40—one of the last photos—Larry’s parents,
my mother and her sisters on Atlantic City Boardwalk in the 30’s,
and Erwin, my mother’s last love, for the besotted, lively gaze
she turns on him, though I try to keep him
behind the flowers. Perhaps they watch me,
even watch over me. When I fell
and it was just bad enough
to put up railings and walk more slowly,
I felt they had given me a warning.
Or when the baby is here, or when we gather,
turkey or brisket or pot de crème, or an ordinary morning,
open newspaper or book or laptop, the ramekin of salt
on the table—there they are,
watching.

I change the flowers as they wilt,
alstroemerias, anemones, the last sweet peas,
because I want my dead to keep watching out for us,
for the children and grandchildren and beloved friends
in this chancy world where death lurks on the landing
or in the car, or microbes
or snipers or breast
or bone or stomach.

What do they think about the time I waste?
Such an abundance that I throw whole hours
into online Scrabble or Threes with the excuse that they
are a form of meditation,
because it’s hard to be here now,
now being a confused elixir
of sun and fog and email and bird shadow and superstition
and chicken feet and toast and news
and insatiable longing and I have to pee, a fusillade
of random moments that can converge
into a ravishing pattern,
which I have, from time to time and briefly, glimpsed.
But mostly I wander the planet with blinders on,
going somewhere fast.
I like to keep moving.
I like my time full.
And I like to believe that because
their photos look out from their niche
in the living room, they are present, and if
I keep a fresh parade of flowers on the altar
they will keep on keeping me
from harm.


Saturday, 17 June 2017

With today's brilliant poem "The Conservation of Matter" by Meryl Natchez, Writing In A Woman's Voice goes on a week's summer solstice vacation until June 25, 2017. Happy mid-summer days to all!


The Conservation of Matter

by Meryl Natchez


                                    for J. E.

I follow the hump of the whale exhaling
as it heads for the Bering Sea. I want to see it, and see it again,

closer. Or branches in a storm, their exuberant dance
with the wind. Even rain on a New York street,

cigarette butts in the gutter, taxis splattering. I can’t get enough of it.
You say: When we die we cease to exist. Everything else

is illusion. But what about that law of physics:
the conservation of matter? How water changes to

steam or ice—mass plus energy
equal to the first wet splash.

And this hard-won companionship, smelted
in a blaze day after day—surely something endures.

Slowly, light turns the bay slate blue.
Night departs. Morning reappears.

The dead look out from their accustomed photos,
stopped in time, but not altogether silent.

The last whiff of the whale’s breath
transforms into ocean, air.



Friday, 16 June 2017

FINAL FITTING

by Judith Offer

for Toni Locke
[1917-2015]
Stand still;  I am trying to fit this poem around you,
Around your wrinkly smile and your eyes of sky,
Around your recorder waiting on the piano bench;
While you drift to the dining room,
Drawn to the afternoon sun spreading  gold
Over your geraniums and your jig saw puzzle.
If you would come back in here
And listen to what I have so far,
The way you always have,
I’m sure this poem would gather neatly around you.
But I stand here, mouth full of pins,
And you float further away,
Across your spare kitchen, out your porch door,
Over the bird feeder and the bird clothesline.
I basted the pieces of your poem yesterday,
A New England style that will be the real you,
Never blustery, nor braggadocio:
A Boismoitier duet, or a Baton,
Or maybe a folk song from your book.
But on you float, over the wormy apple that made good sauce,
Toward The Food Mill and Farmer Joe’s
And I suppose Laurel Books.
The fine fabric of your new poem
Is the one you wove yourself, Toni:
The warp, things unspoken but judiciously lived:
How you kept your body moving;
How you didn’t own things you couldn’t use;
How you tried to make sure
Everyone’s children knew the songs;
How you collected real friends,
The ones who did something for someone else.
The woof is the things you were moved to say:
How you learned to edit a newspaper,
So the people could hang together on the truth;
How you enjoyed and admired your children,
And their children and their children;
How fast and furious and funny life is,
And how impossible to control.
The poem is almost done;  one fitting won’t take long.
I know you’ll love it; you’ll wear it forever.
If you will only come back over here and stand still. 


* * * * *

Judith Offer has had two daughters, five books of poetry and dozens of plays. (Eighteen of the latter, including six musicals, have been produced.)  She has read her poetry at scores of poetry venues, but is particularly delighted to have been included in the Library of Congress series and on “All Things Considered,” on NPR.  Her writing reflects her childhood in a large Catholic family—with some Jewish roots—her experience as teacher, community organizer, musician, historian, gardener, and all-purpose volunteer, and her special fascination with her roles of wife and mother.  Her most recent book of poetry, called DOUBLE CROSSING, is poems about Oakland, California, where she lives with her husband, Stuart.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

AND THEIRS, THEM

by Judith Offer


We are the women of small histories/
            diaries, journals, letters to our sisters/
whose mothers recited earlier accounts
while mixing turkey stuffing or brownies
in any coffee-flavored kitchen.

We are the keepers of  lesser treasures/
            relish recipes, songs our uncles sang,
            steps to the old dances/
whose children are relentlessly photographed
and ride the years from sharp to fading
in masks of cellophane.

We are the bearers of background memories/
            his last words, her first song,
            Thanksgiving before the war/
whose grandchildren will grow
to remember us
and theirs, them.


* * * * *

 "And Theirs, Them" first appeared in the author's collection The First Apples.

Judith Offer has had two daughters, five books of poetry and dozens of plays. (Eighteen of the latter, including six musicals, have been produced.)  She has read her poetry at scores of poetry venues, but is particularly delighted to have been included in the Library of Congress series and on “All Things Considered,” on NPR.  Her writing reflects her childhood in a large Catholic family—with some Jewish roots—her experience as teacher, community organizer, musician, historian, gardener, and all-purpose volunteer, and her special fascination with her roles of wife and mother.  Her most recent book of poetry, called DOUBLE CROSSING, is poems about Oakland, California, where she lives with her husband, Stuart.
           


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Culture of Rape

by Kathleen Murphey


Nolan Bruder and Brock Turner,
Birds of a feather, flock together,
Drug and Rape, Drug and Rape.

Whether his sister or a stranger,
he’s got a dick, so he’ll stick it in,
screw it if she’s unwilling.
Judges care more about him than the victim;
one brutally raped by a swimmer,
the other, a minor, raped by her brother.

Doesn’t seem like there is much honorable
about judges William Follett and Aaron Perskey
when they condone the abuse of young women
by turning the perpetrators loose.

These cases should be national disgraces,
and yet, the president of the United States
grabs women by the pussy, so why shouldn’t they?

Watch out girls and women,
we live in a culture of rape,
and pretty soon, without insurance coverage
for birth control or access to legal abortion,
we’ll be just like Offred from
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaiden’s Tale.


* * * * *


Kathleen Murphey is an associate professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia.  Recently, she has been writing fiction (both short stories and poetry) on women’s and social justice issues.  To learn more about her work, see www.kathleenmurphey.com

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Cleveland, 1962

I’m glad I went with my father
to see the bridge abutment going nowhere.
He had seen it when he drove by
in his City bus, was curious, told me
with some excitement, and I, fourteen
and usually bored, for some reason
said I’d go. And so we drove down
trashed deserted streets to the dead-end
where a bridge out over the tracks
was gone now, all but the huge orange
metal braces, some cables the size
of my father’s waist, and he told me
how it must have been, showed me
on the street across where it must
have joined, how you must have been
able then to drive right over
to Little Italy, and I smiled and nodded.
I think I did.


* * * * *

Gail Rudd Entrekin is Poetry Editor of Hip Pocket Press and Editor of the online environmental literary magazine, Canary (www.canarylitmag.org).  She is Editor of the poetry anthology Yuba Flows (2007) and the poetry & short fiction anthology Sierra Songs & Descants: Poetry & Prose of the Sierra (2002).

Her poems have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines, including Cimarron Review, Nimrod, New Ohio Review, and Southern Poetry Review, were finalists for the Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry from Nimrod International Journal in 2011, and won the Women’s National Book Association Award in 2016. 

Entrekin taught poetry and English literature at California colleges for 25 years.  Her books of poetry include The Art of Healing (with Charles Entrekin) (Poetic Matrix Press 2016); Rearrangement of the Invisible, (Poetic Matrix Press, 2012); Change (Will Do You Good) (Poetic Matrix Press, 2005), which was nominated for a Northern California Book Award; You Notice the Body (Hip Pocket Press, 1998); and John Danced (Berkeley Poets Workshop & Press, 1983).  She and her husband, poet and novelist Charles Entrekin, live in the hills of San Francisco’s East Bay. 




Monday, 12 June 2017

Brewster Road
Killeen, Texas

by Gail Rudd Entrekin



There you sit in the yellow bean bag
spit shining your black boots till they gleam.
You’ll line them up before you collapse
on the turquoise aquatic sheets, the water bed
rolling slowly toward me, sloshing away.
The lieutenant retires for the day.  Taps.

When you are funny I love you:
when you do your El Medico accent,
appallingly offensive, or when you are Rock,
the punch drunk fighta from the Bronx
to my Esmeralda Robinowitz, which we do
deadpan for hours. Also when we have sex --
an activity we invented together and share
on the secret side of the blue beaded curtain --
there is love.   

                          But Vietnam is coming, my formulaic
letters, your uninformative casual missives. Your hooch maid,
your VD quarantine (which, when I’m finally told,
I will not mind, having myself slept with an old lover.)

You will arrive in uniform, my dad’s welcoming banner
above the porch, and we will not know each other.

Dusty hot days I will sit in front of the window cooler
and cry. You will call me fat, make fun of me
for eating in front of friends, in private
call me Soldier, issue orders and commands
while you lie back smoking pot, plastic cookie
wrap and soda cans around you on the rug.
And it will all unravel, go to dust, come down
to a few photos in a shoe box on a high shelf.

Already we can feel the air changing, feel
how nothing we believe
will turn out to be true.  


* * * * *

Gail Rudd Entrekin is Poetry Editor of Hip Pocket Press and Editor of the online environmental literary magazine, Canary (www.canarylitmag.org).  She is Editor of the poetry anthology Yuba Flows (2007) and the poetry & short fiction anthology Sierra Songs & Descants: Poetry & Prose of the Sierra (2002).

Her poems have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines, including Cimarron Review, Nimrod, New Ohio Review, and Southern Poetry Review, were finalists for the Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry from Nimrod International Journal in 2011, and won the Women’s National Book Association Award in 2016. 

Entrekin taught poetry and English literature at California colleges for 25 years.  Her books of poetry include The Art of Healing (with Charles Entrekin) (Poetic Matrix Press 2016); Rearrangement of the Invisible, (Poetic Matrix Press, 2012); Change (Will Do You Good) (Poetic Matrix Press, 2005), which was nominated for a Northern California Book Award; You Notice the Body (Hip Pocket Press, 1998); and John Danced (Berkeley Poets Workshop & Press, 1983).  She and her husband, poet and novelist Charles Entrekin, live in the hills of San Francisco’s East Bay.