Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June 2 -- Your Parents or Ancestors

Check out The Mojave River Review


  1. Under Grandpa’s Skin

    the video
    shows Grandpa

    bare chest

    point to
    each of his
    prized cacti

    sixty years pass

    in the mirror
    I see

    and wonder if
    there is more
    of Grandpa

    under the
    naked skin

  2. That is a really fantastic poem Tom. I love how you've used the device.

    1. thanks. It's been a while since I payed attention to meter consciously, so that was fun. I love the different challenges in style.

    2. I like it too!

      (Stephanie on a public computer)

  3. y dad
    everywhere --
    once we strolled
    through a
    new York
    central park became
    OUR park:
    he said "see?
    nature rules even
    in the middle
    of the urban."
    we kept walking
    arm in arm in that
    frosty but not frozen

    Stephanie Hammer

    1. nice. I like the:

      nature rules even
      in the middle
      of the urban."

    2. Yeah, I love that line too. Your father sounds amazing.

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  4. My Grandma’s Garden

    I used to see her bend low
    to pick vegetables
    in her garden
    dressed in her
    long flowery housedress,
    her gray hair tied up
    and back in a bun.
    Since my grandma
    spoke only Italian,
    we never talked,
    yet, whenever she rested
    on the stone bench,
    I’d sit on her lap,
    and listen to her heartbeat.

    1. very nice Barbara. I love your poems. I just read the one about your brother in Chiron Review.

    2. Barbara, this poem is fantastic!

  5. i love how this poem -- a work of words -- is about communicating w/o them.

  6. The Micro-ballad of Bonnie & Clyde
    forbidden love forged;
    Gallanly yet gently
    he woos
    shyly and slyly
    she coo's
    with passion and pressure
    they love
    to hope and happiness
    they cling

    Dark hearts bond;
    Fast and feverishly
    they steal
    blasting and blazing
    they kill
    dusty and dirty
    they play

    Forbidden love crushed
    panting and pulsing
    they run
    speeding and spiraling
    they die

    Dark hearts eternal
    in music and movies
    they live
    through myth and legend
    they ride
    my Bonnie & Clyde

    1. That's good and I love how you played with form too. Not only are you doing single stressed line, but you've got a high sense of end stop as well. That's great.

  7. The Red-Whiskered Tomato Man

    Todd dug in the Arizona dirt,
    Broke the clods with his fingers,
    Sweat fell from his red beard:
    A hard-scrabble guy
    Pulling vegetables from the desert floor.

    Fort Huachuca's men
    Needed beans, tomatoes, lettuce,
    Because meat isn't enough.
    Todd had married Elizabeth
    And her five children.

    Todd got the commander
    To let him do this. What a relief!
    A way to make money for the kids.
    But the hills loomed behind him as he farmed,
    And an arrow might find him any moment.

    He took refuge in the greens of lettuce,
    The pale shades of cauliflower,
    The rich reds of tomatoes,
    The verdant summer beans
    And the squash trailing heavily across the dirt.

    1. Todd's a tough guy! What a tribute to him. How are you related to him?

    2. "because meat isn't enough." love it.

    3. I like how much you pack into this narrative with a few well placed details. The last stanza is wonderful.

  8. Rio Rico

    Shortly after they were married
    my parents bought a piece
    of Arizona desert
    just north of the border
    in a place called Rio Rico.

    They’ve never seen it
    but they pay the taxes every year.

    Imagine it now
    biding its time
    sun washed and sage scrubbed
    a distant rumor
    one acre square.

    1. That's great. I love the imagine natural world here!

    2. I love the symetry of ideas ---the parents buying the land's solitude and the land holding their dream. It's compact, yet creates a sense of place and hope. Lovely.

    3. great control of language. i like the way this closes down and opens up at the end.

  9. Okie

    It was desperation
    To find work
    And food to eat
    Back when the
    Wind blew the
    Dirt in our eyes
    Without end
    Until we packed
    the old
    Ford truck
    And headed for

  10. Daryl, that's fantastic. All of Steinbeck right there in the poem.

  11. Failed to make what was coming work with single beat lines. It went the other way on me and I ended up with alternating heavy beats except for the final line which was passive. Thanks for doing this. I haven't written poetry for a long time.


    That weekend he shouldered his task:
    Extract by axe and muscle eighty pounds of citrus root,
    Clinging stubborn, veins of earth,
    Sinews stretching, pulling blindly against time
    As we laughed.

    1. I found single beat lines to be a pain.
      But I like this!

  12. I remember
    my father's folks,
    and the rest
    they were not there.
    No photos
    graced the walls.
    No portraits.
    I wondered why
    but felt
    afraid to ask,
    I heard them
    behind locked doors.

  13. That's great. I love your use of "fancied"

  14. Thanks. But the meter? Not so much.

    1. The reason to play with it is just to try something out and let your imagination take over a little, but you never have to be a slave to it.

  15. He taught me
    the ocean
    by throwing
    me into
    the breakers.

    He relished
    my running
    against that
    brutal yawn.

    Inhaled with
    sand and shell
    into it’s
    gaping mouth.

    Not that I
    but that is
    how he likes
    to tell it.


    1. Lynne poem is great especially that last stanza. That's beautiful!

  16. Couldn't quite do the unstressed line. I always have a hard time with that. Here's what I got:

    And After That, He Said Nothing

    My father’s rough hands point
    the truck deeper into the desert.
    His stories of Muhammad, Abraham,
    and Jonas slip through my mind
    like the handfuls of fine caramel sand
    that pass through my fingers
    while he makes this delivery,
    casts an order with that farmer.

    We drive boxes of tender dates
    in a crisscross below the stars.
    My father uses the sky to take us east.
    He tries to teach me how to deduce
    direction and the time of day from the
    sun’s position overhead. I am 7 and reply,
    “when am I ever going to use that? I’ll
    just take a compass.”

    1. That's really beautiful, Shaymaa!

    2. That's really beautiful, Shaymaa!

    3. So rereading it now makes me feel like I should have titled it "Filicide". What do you think? It's sort of a different but disturbingly (and pretty unconsciously) workable angle on this.

    4. Yeah, I think that gives it a new dimension when you're reflecting on the poem after you read it.

  17. My Mom's Ex, Terry
    (I didnt do the one stress thing)
    Wait until you see this Ker-rina,
    Terry boasted before he led me and my mom through the back door of his huge, brown mobile home.
    I never expected to see what I did,
    It was as if I'd entered a level of Hell I'd always known I'd one day see.
    A black envelope closed me into this bright wicked place.
    Inside I laughed and cried and wondered and prayed.
    There were dozens of dogs before me,
    Each tied to its own pole with a chain.
    They barked and cried and taunted even pleaded or exclaimed, a canine purgatory maybe.
    They dont mind be tied up like that, Terry? I asked.
    "Oh no, they're taken care of real good. They're just excited to see me" he replied. I didnt dare look at my mom.
    I prayed then we moved on to the next part of the tour.

    1. Oh man, that's is a good and creepy poem. The discomfort of the moment really comes through

    2. Cool, thanks. It was a very eerie moment.

  18. Lynda Smith HogganJune 16, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    My great grandfather Frank
    Scotch-Irish Canadian.
    I never met him
    But he was so imposing in his photographs.
    The look of a rogue:
    Tall, with a fancy moustache
    But an honest man
    Even better.
    He gave his wife 13 children
    Or maybe she gave him.
    With so many mouths to feed
    A jack of all trades -
    Yet a master of one:
    Wilderness river guide.
    His skills so well known
    That even the King of England
    Hired him for a trip.
    I’ve seen the newspaper article
    About how Frank expounded on
    The superiority of the birch bark canoe
    And then proved it.
    I picture that trip
    A group of men
    Big boots stepping carefully
    Into the center of the delicate-seeming vessel
    That flowed effortlessly between air and water
    Passing deer, eagles, bear.
    Putting out at night
    On the riverbank
    Gathering wood,
    Stoking fire
    Sharing jerky and whiskey
    And men’s bawdy laughter.
    Does the King have one attendant
    Or maybe many?
    Does the king shit in the woods
    Or bring a gilded chamberpot?
    Do they shake hands
    Or does my great grandfather kneel?
    I cannot picture Frank kneeling before any man.
    But I hope he knelt before his wife
    When he gave her a kingly gift:
    An 18 karat gold pin, its filigree
    Lit by one perfect diamond as its sun.

    1. That's fantastic. All of that emotion comes through the physicality of the poem!

    2. Lynda Smith HogganJune 20, 2015 at 8:42 AM

      Thank you John! Not sure I got the stress thing right.