Category Archives: Poems I enjoy

Apologies to an Apple – A review

apologies cover 8-00001In the last couple of months a new poetry website/social network has sprung up called Read Write Poem, and as a member I had the pleasure of being called to participate in the second “Read Write Poem Virtual Book Tour.” This means I have the opportunity to do more than just tell people they should read great poems by unknown poets, I get to tell them why they should read these poems.

Maya Ganesan’s debut Apologies to an Apple is a very competent body of work, with poems ranging from the surrealism of the natural world to foreboding loneliness. The book starts on a really great note with the short “Perhaps.”

Perhaps tomorrow I
will spend the morning in
the woods and catch up
on woodland gossip with
the squirrels.

In fact, the entire first third of the book is dedicated to the poet and her place in the natural world, oftentimes anthropomorphizing in order to create characters that fuel voyages of wonder and discovery. Youthful surrealism; I love it.

In the second section, she explores her connection with others, including her family. I particularly love the piece “Don’t Know Linen,” a somber poem, I’m assuming, about Alzheimer’s.

The sunset du jour throws
Mauve rays like darts.

She said some time ago,
I don’t know linen.

But she sits here, 6 p.m. dusk,
Linen and hospital find her.

Against a closed sky,
Her white wings beat.

She is uninvited.

The calendars will
Remember today’s kind of autumn,

The color of the open air,
The view from half-closed blinds.

She shapes tracks of water
On the table beside her bed:

A leaf, a tree, a cloud.

And finally, in the third section of the book, she explores her connection to herself. As a fellow poet, I definitely could relate to this gem of a poem called “The Art of Knowing.”

no one knows you are coming and going underneath
this big sky and drinking a hundred vowels each

minute, drinking and spitting

you are walking underneath the awning of a petite
French-style café and someone five miles away

doesn’t know

Now, I tried my hardest to not judge the book by what I knew about it going in. You see, Maya Ganesan is only eleven years old. As I said, this book is a very competent collection of poems for anyone, but for an eleven year old, it truly speaks to the talent and bright future ahead of her. I very much look forward to the next several books by this bright and inspiring poet.

Pick up a copy of Apologies to an Apple at Maya Ganesan’s website. Also, read some of the other reviews of her book at the Read Write Poem Book Tour.

Poetry in SLO

It’s been a long time since I’ve spent much time in the public sphere of the local poetry scene. Gosh, it wasn’t that long ago that I was hanging out on Wednesday nights at Linnaea’s, listening to the classical guitarists, the poets, the singer-songwriters, and the occasional senior-citizen white rapper.

Actually, that was probably four or five years ago. You know, that seems like a real long time ago, now that I put it that way. But I still write. Occasionally.

Anyhow, the next couple of weekends is the 24th Annual Poetry Festival here. I’m going to try to go to every event I can. Let me know if you’re interested in joining me.

Here’s a list of the events. Here’s a not as pretty list that also includes the monthly poetry events around the area.

The One Girl at the Boys’ Party

The One Girl at the Boys’ Party
by Sharon Olds

When I take my girl to the swimming party
I set her down among the boys. They tower and
bristle, she stands there smooth and sleek,
her math scores unfolding in the air around her.
They will strip to their suits, her body hard and
indivisible as a prime number,
they’ll plunge in the deep end, she’ll subtract
her height from ten feet, divide it into
hundreds of gallons of water, the numbers
bouncing in her mind like molecules of chlorine
in the bright blue pool. When they climb out,
her ponytail will hang its pencil lead
down her back, her narrow silk suit
with hamburgers and french fries printed on it
will glisten in the brilliant air, and they will
see her sweet face, solemn and
sealed, a factor of one, and she will
see their eyes, two each,
their legs, two each, and the curves of their sexes,
one each, and in her head she’ll be doing her
wild multiplying, as the drops
sparkle and fall to the power of a thousand from her body.

The Cord

The Cord
Leanne O’Sullivan

I used to lie on the floor for hours after
school with the phone cradled between
my shoulder and my ear, a plate of cold
rice to my left, my school books to my right.
Twirling the cord between my fingers
I spoke to friends who recognized the
language of our realm. Throats and lungs
swollen, we talked into the heart of the night,
toying with the idea of hair dye and suicide,
about the boys who didn’t love us,
who we loved too much, the pang
of the nights. Each sentence was
new territory, like a door someone was
rushing into, the glass shattering
with delirium, with knowledge and fear.
My Mother never complained about the phone bill,
what it cost for her daughter to disappear
behind a door, watching the cord
stretching its muscle away from her.
Perhaps she thought it was the only way
she could reach me, sending me away
to speak in the underworld.
As long as I was speaking
she could put my ear to the tenuous earth
and allow me to listen, to decipher.
And these were the elements of my Mother,
the earthed wire, the burning cable,
as if she flowed into the room with
me to somehow say, Stay where I can reach you,
the dim room, the dark earth. Speak of this
and when you feel removed from it
I will pull the cord and take you
back towards me.

Slicing Ginger

Slicing Ginger
by Ralph Black

Not sex. Not sex,
but sexual: the way
the weather hangs
at the edges of sight,
the way the paring knife,
pressed and warm as any
lover to my hand, slides
just under the soaked
brown skin, opening
the earth of it, opening
the undiscovered white-
fleshed seam in the scarred
and sacred earth: the
lemon-sweet, lemon-
sweet ringing of bodies
through the room.
Plumes of longing bleed
in my hand as the small
blade pares into the
mole-blind, uprooted,
incantatory fruit — the
slices hitting the
hot oiled iron with
a singing of fire on
wet wood, and the tiny
suns exploding there:
huge and redolent and
almost human.

For My Son, Noah, Ten Years Old

For My Son, Noah, Ten Years Old
by Robert Bly

Night and day arrive, and day after day goes by,
and what is old remains old, and what is young remains young, and grows old,
and the lumber pile does not grow younger, nor the
weathered two by fours lose their darkness,
but the old tree goes on, the barn stands without help so many years,
the advocate of darkness and night is not lost.

The horse swings around on one leg, steps, and turns,
the chicken flapping claws onto the roost, its wings whelping and whalloping,
but what is primitive is not to be shot out into the night and the dark.
And slowly the kind man comes closer, loses his rage, sits down at table.

So I am proud only of those days that we pass in undivided tenderness,
when you sit drawing, or making books, stapled, with messages to the world…
or coloring a man with fire coming out of his hair.
Or we sit at a table, with small tea carefully poured;
so we pass our time together, calm and delighted.

Song for the Deer and Myself to Return On

Song for the Deer and Myself to Return On
by Joy Harjo

This morning when I looked out the roof window
before dawn and a few stars were still caught
in the fragile weft of ebony night
I was overwhelmed. I sang the song Louis taught me:
a song to call the deer in Creek, when hunting,
and I am certainly hunting something as magic as deer
in this city far from the hammock of my mother’s belly.
It works, of course, and deer came into this room
and wondered at finding themselves
in a house near downtown Denver.
Now the deer and I are trying to figure out a song
to get them back, to get all of us back,
because if it works I’m going with them.
And it’s too early to call Louis
and nearly too late to go home.

Running on Empty

Running on Empty
by Robert Phillips

As a teenager I would drive Father’s
Chevrolet cross-county, given me

reluctantly: “Always keep the tank
half full, boy, half full, ya hear?”

The fuel gauge dipping, dipping
toward Empty, hitting Empty, then

—thrilling!—’way below Empty,
myself driving cross-county

mile after mile, faster and faster,
all night long, this crazy kid driving

the earth’s rolling surface,
against all laws, defying chemistry,

rules, and time, riding on nothing
but fumes, pushing luck harder

that anyone pushed before, the wind
screaming past like the Furies…

I stranded myself only once, a white
night with no gas station open, ninety miles

from nowhere. Panicked for a while,
at standstill, myself stalled.

At dawn the car and I both refilled. But,
Father, I am running on empty still.