Tuesday (Fighting the good fight) Musings

I am armed with cold medicine and fluids. I will prevail!

I heard back from one of the journals I sent to this weekend. As of now I’ve heard back from three, and the count is one confirmation and two rejections. The second rejection I wasn’t surprised about because it was a bit of a stretch to begin with, but the first one got on my nerves if only for the simple phrasing: Thank you for considering _____. Unfortunately, due to the large number of submissions we’ve received, we are not accepting new work at this time. Sincerely, The Editors at _____.

This is fine. No problem. However, you’d think they’d put that on their website so I didn’t spend money on postage and an SASE only to determine that they were no longer accepting new work. This brings me to my next point. Journals, if you have a website, please be careful with your updates. Web sites are the primary way in which writers collect information. When content isn’t up to date, it’s a bit problematic.

I’m teaching pantoums on Thursday night and I’ve chosen this one as one of the examples:

Reading, Dreaming, Hiding

You were reading. I was dreaming
The color blue. The wind was hiding
In the trees and rain was streaming
Down the windows, full of darkness.
Rain was dreaming in the trees. You
Were full of darkness. The wind was streaming
Down the window, the color blue
I was reading and hiding.
The wind was full of darkness and rain
Was streaming in the trees and down the window
The color blue was full of darkness dreaming
In the winds and trees. I was reading you.

Kelly Cherry

Monday Musings

I took a little break for Labor Day weekend.

Your new fall poem for this week:

Aunt Leaf

Needing one, I invented her –
the great-great-aunt dark as hickory
called Shining-Leaf, or Drifting-Cloud
or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.

Dear aunt, I’d call into the leaves,
and she’d rise up, like an old log in a pool,
and whisper in a language only the two of us knew
the word that meant follow,

and we’d travel
cheerful as birds
out of the dusty town and into the trees
where she would change us both into something quicker –
two foxes with black feet,
two snakes green as ribbons,
two shimmering fish – and all day we’d travel.

At day’s end she’d leave me back at my own door
with the rest of my family,
who were kind, but solid as wood
and rarely wandered. While she,
old twist of feathers and birch bark,
would walk in circles wide as rain and then
float back

scattering the rags of twilight
on fluttering moth wings;

or she’d slouch from the barn like a gray opossum;

or she’d hang in the milky moonlight
burning like a medallion,

this bone dream, this friend I had to have,
this old woman made out of leaves.

~Mary Oliver

You can now read back issues of The Kenyon Review online.

I love this poem (featured on Poetry Daily)

A Farm in Virginia near the North Carolina Boundary

The shadow of a grass blade falls upon the worm.
A blue-tailed skink slips in under the door.
This is life as lived on a southern farm
with fruit trees (apple orchard; fig and pear).
Scarlet tanagers let themselves be seen
from time to time. Rabbits and deer devour
the season’s garden. Bees linger at the screen.
Some days the sky is low and seems to lower,
and others blue, with clouds a rickrack trim,
or black with blowing rain that stills and hushes
the birds while large-mouth bass and turtles swim
in the muddy-bottomed pond; rain rattles bushes.
It’s busy here; a lot is going on
most all the time and now and then scarlet
tanagers, bright baubles in the morning sun,
and shy despite the gaudy garb of harlot,
fly by, a pair; house wrens flock at the feeder.
The bees that fumble at the sill will swarm.
A cardinal relaxes in a cedar.
This is life on a small southeastern farm.
A blue-tailed skink slips out under the door.
The shadow of a grass blade crosses the worm.

~Kelly Cherry

I discovered Kelly Cherry when I read A Formal Feeling Comes (great book). That book is responsible for changing my feelings about form. I used to be much more intimidated by any type of form and I found myself frustrated by certain forms (sestinas, couplets, sonnets) not only because they were difficult but also because I felt they were inaccessible to the reader. But I didn’t want them to be. Forms are beautiful and complicated and worth study but often times they are dismissed as archaic. This book allowed me to finally relate to the subject and the form, and I discovered a lot of poets that I would not have if I had not picked it up.