Monday, August 27, 2018

Bone Light — Yasmin Belkhyr (Akashic Books)

Today's book of poetry:
Bone Light.  Yasmin Belkhyr.  New-Generation African Poets.  Akashic Books.  Brooklyn, New York.  2017.

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Yasmin Belkhyr's first poems hit you like a sequence of surrealist dreams — but in these dreams, enough is familiar to the reader that reasonable assumptions can be made.

Bone Light is where hearts get ripped out of your dreams.  Not romantic love-hearts; bloody muscles pulsing red, hot and wet.  Yasmin has seen the chicken clucking shortly before being introduced to the pot, the red meat walking by moments before hitting the grill.  These poems, in themselves, are not metaphor but fact.

Belkhyr's youthful persona is a presence in Bone Light as is a shimmering beginning to the first calls of sensuality.  But Belkhyr has a bigger purpose in mind.  These poems bridge continents and cultures; Morocco is in these poems, Yasmin is from Morocco, but so is America.

In these poems America represents both heaven and hell, escape and misfortune, Mecca and main street.  Bone Light fights against stereotypes but America is always going to be the promised land, always going to be an evil empire.

Interlude with Forgotten Myth, or,
Portrait of Ibrahim's Daughter

I have a recurring dream in which my father breaks the neck of every pigeon
in the park. I help: a good daughter. I snatch them from the air & tear out the
feathers. Bloody. In the stories, there was a king named Ibrahim & he loved
his god. No one calls me foreign but I know that's what they mean. In the
stories, girls like me sweat out the fevers, drop dirty guns in the trash chute.
We rip the rabbit's heart right out of its fucking chest. All the red-soaked
skin under our fingernails. All I do is think about stories. About history, or
his story, or her story, or my story. They're all the same story really. Someone
always ends up holding something mangled.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

"Someone always ends up holding something mangled."- Belkhyr

That's a line Today's book of poetry wants to remember.  Maybe even borrow.

Today's book of poetry loved how these short prose poems performed.  In concise form with a language collected from several shores Belkhyr dropped poetry bomb after poetry bomb until our score card ran out of spaces for check marks.  Yasmin Belkhyr reached blast velocity with the first poem in this splendid collection and never took her hand off of the throttle.

Yasmin Belkhyr has taken some of the titles in Bone Light from the sacred text of the Quran, others from the mouths of Moroccan women of experience.  Today's book of poetry sees no dogmatic pretense behind any of these slick poems.  Belkhyr makes her blind turns with her foot on the gas and a tight grip, fingers splayed, on the hand-brake.

Laylat Al-Qadr

I don't own any mirrors. In sleep, I scrape ticks off the windows. Once, a bird
startled itself into the apartment and I was alone. If I throw a nickel off the
bridge, I'm thinking about my niece. While the city slept, sound dripped slow
down the street. An unnatural thing. The festering mess to suddenly damped
and quiet. None of the wounded dogs moaned. None of the children woke
curled around ghosts. During the day, I wore a loose dress and bought pastries
from a bakery and thought of all the people I'd like to touch. At night, I 
imagined the ways I could sink. My little fears and aches, the stupid rust in
my chest. Define: daughter. Define: obligation. Define: heartless. I swear, I'd
be better if I could. The girl was named Rumisa and I read to her in English
and that's all you need to know.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Today's morning read was a typical early Monday morning fiasco.  Thankfully Yasmin Belkhyr's taught and tender poems brought out the best in each of us.  Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, jumped to the lead and started assigning poems, which was perfect.  Someone has to light the fire.

Yasmin Belkhyr reminds Today's book of poetry how much we really do not know about Africa, Morocco, women.  Belkhyr and the other poets (Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Mary-Alice Daniel, Chekwebe O. Danladi, Len Bezawork Gronlund, Ashley Makue, Momtaza Mehri, Famia Nkansa, Ejiofor Ugwu, chimwemwe Undi) from The New Generation African Poets series are going to clear some of that up for us.

& We Have Never Owned Casablanca

It's hard to find work, a man on the train tells me. He asks if I am married,
if I have a boyfriend. I'm seeing someone, I lie. We are cramped together in
the doorway, late August, the train a bullet streaking to the airport. My
suitcases are between us, his mother sitting beside the door. Miles sweep by,
sea becoming country becoming city becoming sea again. Here, it all leads to
water. They're building a new city. Between Kenitra and Mehdia,he says. Piece
by piece, the cities reach for each other. The train jolts: he grabs my arm, steadies
me, horribly intimate. I could build, he says, but my hands are too soft. Outside
the window, a flash of children chase chickens in a grassless yard. Do you like
strong men? He has a stain on his shirt and moist palms. His mother smiles
at me, squeezes her son's arm. She offers me a warm date, a firm strawberry.
I think you are very beautiful, he says, What is your name? The train slows to a
stop: outside, the waves thrash against the rocks, beating them smooth.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Yasmin Belkhyr can sound like she is treading carefully, walking softly, but that's just the invitation, the ticket in.  Once you are in Belkhyr world she will rattle your cage.  Bone Light is a delight for poetry addicts like Today's book of poetry.  We can't wait to see what she does next.

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Yasmin Belkhyr

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yasmin writes. She was born in SalΓ©, Morocco, grew up in NYC, and now lives and studies in Amherst, Massachusetts. You can read some of her published poems here. Her chapbook Bone Light was published in 2017 by the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books. In 2013, Yasmin founded Winter Tangerine, an independent literary and arts journal. She now acts as the Editor-in-Chief. She is also the founder and EIC of Honeysuckle Press.

BLURBS
"Across dreamscapes, across landscapes of Morocco and America, across layers of memory and emotion, Belkhyr deftly writes through complicated imagery and reflections.... In the compact space of a chapbook, Bone Light demonstrates Belkhyr as a bold and necessary voice."
     — Emily Corwin, Monstering Magazine

"What is delightful is how quickly the poet establishes her sense of layered narrative in the book and the effect it exerts on her poems. Throughout the book, Belkhyr influences through this kind of manipulation, which transforms her poems into vehicles that draw readers in, as water is attracted to travel through every crevice it ultimately passes."
     — Bruce Arlen Wasserman, New York Journal of Books 


Yasmin Belkhyr
2014 National Young Arts Week
Video: Young Arts


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DISCLAIMERS

Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Becoming Trans-Parent - One Family's Journey of Gender Transition — Annette Langlois Grunseth (Finishing Line Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Becoming Trans-Parent - One Family's Journey of Gender Transition.  Annette Langlois Grunseth.  Finishing Line Press. Georgetown, Kentucky.  2017.


Here's the thing; these poems are the written record of Annette Langlois Grunseth coming to terms with the transition of her lovely son Eric into her lovely daughter Anna.

Brave, frank, unencumbered, direct, easy to digest, right out there, true blue, honest, fierce.  Yep, all of those apply to this journey and these poems.  Somehow Grunseth has fashioned Becoming Trans-Parent out of the upset and turmoil of a gender switch in her immediate family.  Grunseth never flinches and clearly some of that has rubbed off on her daughter.

You could, if you wanted, see these poems as an elegant exercise in empathy.  But Today's book of poetry would rather posit that Grunseth was enlightened by the experience of her daughter "coming out."  The experience was life and perception changing for everyone involved.

The Child I Carried

Kicks and turns danced in my belly
I fest certain of a daughter.
Dad and I sang lullabies through my stretched skin,
saw a foot crease along the equator of this miraculous globe.

Waiting, waiting, until that day,
when I labored and pushed you into waiting hands,
thrilled, yet surprised, to hear the doctor say,
You have a son.

You grew up a sensitive soul, asking philosophical questions.
As a teen you chose computers, math, science and sitting with the girls.
The boys teased you for giggling,
yet to us, you seemed more geek that girl.

Your womanhood stunned us,
but when I told you
I thought I had carried a girl
you looked like I had just given you the moon.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Today's book of poetry believes that we recognize true love when we see it and clearly Annette Langlois Grunseth's poems are a loving gesture for her daughter.  But Today's book of poetry would only be interested in taking you into Becoming Trans-Parent if we liked the poems.  Today's book of poetry liked these poems very much.

There is a desperate need for the sort of reason, affirmation and love that Grunseth is pedalling.  Grunseth tells a good story, swings a good punch line.  There is a political agenda on every page of Becoming Trans-Parent and Today's book of poetry is just fine with that.  Today's book of poetry has always wanted to be a positive support to any/all members of the LBGTQIA citizens of the world.  We also realize that as we become more fully aware and informed we are better prepared.  

Today's book of poetry does want to be pro-LBGTQIA and we invited any of our loyal readers from these (or any other) communities to help inform our staff and monitor us if there is something we've missed.  Today's book of poetry wants to be more inclusive.

Annette Grunseth has blazed a trail unfamiliar to most of us and these poems show how she has managed it with grace and candor and love.

When Your Child Comes Out

I often think of the day you were born when
I held my sweet boy for the first time,
marveling where did you come from?
It's a lot to take in, when your child comes out.

As I go upstairs to bed I stare at old photos in the hall,
your short-cropped hair, striped shirt, toddler jeans,
that little-boy smile. I walk past you in a suit and tie for
graduation. At Christmas tears still well up as
my fingers trace the "old" name on the stocking.
It's a lot to take in, when your child comes out.

But now you walk with confidence,
meet new people with ease,
get together with women friends.
Your skin is soft like pink on a peach,
your blue eyes sparkle, your child-like humor has returned
and your familiar expressions are back.
You are the same person
only now that doubting discord is gone.
You live through yourself, instead of beside yourself.

You are the daughter I always wanted.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Our morning read was dedicated to the memory of our old friend Erica Rutherford (1923-2008).  Erica was an accomplished artist.  We weren't close friends, but we shared a few meals.  Erica, when I met her, was quietly blazing trails for transgender folk, and that was almost forty years ago.  That sort of bravery was a rare commodity in rural PEI back in the 80's but Erica pulled it out of her hat like she were both Penn and Teller.

Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, and Maggie, our new intern, took the lead with this morning's read.  Becoming Trans-Parent - One Family's Journey of Gender Transition is a mother's story, a daughter's story and it is all of our stories if we are to continue with reason.

Becoming Trans-Parent calls for simple understanding, simple acceptance, for that most human of feelings; the joy to be who you are.  The freedom to find out.

The First Time I Enter a Ladies Restroom with My Daughter

When you were three years old, I knocked on the men's room door,
and taking your hand, opened the door cautiously.

I'd never been in a men's room before.
Urinal against the wall, a small white cake

of air freshener down in the porcelain,
only one stall with a door,

stainless steel, no pink wallpaper,
no silk flowers in a vase on the vanity.

I felt awkward, while you felt proud to go on your own,
still needing help right there in the men's room.

Thirty years later, you have transformed into a beautiful woman
with long curly hair touching your shoulders,

a hint of blush on high cheek bones, pink lips,
a necklace of crystal beads resting on your collarbones.

After lunch you don't think twice when we head to the ladies room.
I wonder — do you feel tentative like I did long ago in the men's room?

But you look like you know where you are going.
I scan the room to see if other women are looking at you, at us.

Surely, someone will notice. But they don't.
Ladies keep fixing their hair, check their teeth for lipstick,

fumble for lip gloss in their purses.
We wash and dry our hands, fluff our hair,

you tuck in your blouse, we reach for the door,
I re-enter the world with my daughter.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Today's book of poetry looks to poetry like this to help us all see our way in this troubled world.  Becoming Trans-Parent may just show us how to be better people along the way.

Image result for annette langlois grunseth photo

Annette Langlois Grunseth

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Annette L. Grunseth, Green Bay, WI, a graduate of University of Wisconsin - Madison, has been a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets since 1988. She is a retired Marketing and Public Relations professional in the field of healthcare communications and marketing. Her poems have appeared in Wisconsin Academy Review, Midwest Prairie Review, Peninsula Pulse, The Door Voice, Free Verse, Blue Heron Review, SOUNDINGS: Door County in Poetry, Ariel Anthology, Fox Cry Review, The Poetry of Cold, Touchstone, annual calendar books of WFOP. She has won honorable mention awards with Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Triad and Muse Prize contests.

BLURBS
The poems in Annette Grunseth’s chapbook, Becoming Trans-Parent: One Family’s Journey of Gender Transition, are frank, informative, full of feeling and love. From the family’s time-stopped shock to mother and daughter sharing clothes, a mother’s fierce defense of her daughter to those who exclude her, and advocacy for all in her daughter’s situation, Grunseth underscores the need for the family to make the journey too:
Truth is, 41 percent of transgender people lose hope, and attempt to end their lives
unless they get love (the unconditional kind), she says in “Gender Dysphoria.” These are fine poems that every one of us can learn from.
     –Robin Chapman, Professor emerita of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of               Wisconsin-Madison, Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, and poet,         author of Six True Things.

Annette Grunseth’s book of poems, Becoming Trans-Parent, is a guidebook for the heart…at once exquisitely personal and tenderly universal. The questions are clear, the answers are not so transparent, regarding pronouns, restrooms, dress, dignity, health issues and social justice. These poems are about transformation and love and love and transformation. Thank you, Annette, I am a better person for having read Becoming Trans-Parent.
      –Bruce Dethlefsen, Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2011-2012)

Annette Grunseth is an advocate, a poet, and a mother. The advocate in her conveys information: what words mean – words like safety, and dignity. The poet in her asks us to consider the milkweed pod, the Monarch, chrysalis & transformation. As a mother, she wants us to know her daughter is her inspiration, editor and reader. And as human beings, with our own loves & stories & shared bonds, how can we not listen?
Poets name things – it’s what we do. In one of my favorite poems in the collection, Grunseth asks us to consider naming. Her daughter selects her new name, “derived from your mother-roots” and this gift, the power of this choice is palpable in the poem; but the poet doesn’t let the reader off here (or herself). In this poem, titled “Naming My Grief,” the poet admits, “yet the day you told us the court approved your female name, / I cried that night in bed.” Moving from one identity to another, whatever the context, requires some loss, some grief. A loving parent, whatever the context, grieves this moment, and celebrates the child’s casting off of the past self & moving on to the future. Over and over and over in Becoming Trans-Parent we are reminded what it means to love, to learn, to be honest with ourselves, to be human.
     –C.Kubasta, author of Of Covenants and All Beautiful & Useless



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DISCLAIMERS

Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.








Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Stereoblind — Emma Healey (House of Anansi Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Stereoblind.  Emma Healey.  House of Anansi Press.  Toronto, Ontario.  2018.

Stereoblind

"these are the kinds of things you own when you cannot control your own future."

"everywhere in this city of the future, people walk arm in arm, discussing their childhoods."
                                                                                                               — Emma Healey

Everything I am about to tell you is true.

Everything that happens in Emma Healey's diaphanous Stereoblind is true.

Everything that happens in Emma Healey's deuteronomously delightful Stereoblind may be dreamspeak.

Every dream Emma Healey lets you/us in on, in fact, may be a real event and all real events may be dreams.  And so on.

And already Today's book of poetry is misleading you about Stereoblind.  It is not as deliberately complex or confusing as our comments suggest.  In fact, when you are reading Stereoblind, and once you start it is hard to stop, Stereoblind has both it's own gravity and it's own centrifugal force.  You get pull, pulllled, pullllllllled into Healey's stream of unconsciousness, all the while marvelling at how comfortably at home you are in these poems.

There are short poems that flit across your eyes like a swift in flight, skittering across your line of sight just long enough to marvel and then there are longer prose poems that spiral through the air, the connections vaporous and ethereal, the white noise between dreams.  Yet Healey makes it all work as simply as tic tac toe.

Stereoblind works wonderfully well.  The reader doesn't browse these poems, you are compelled forward like a new convert being introduced to a new holy text.  Healey simply pulls you forward and off of your feet before you know what has poetry slapped you.

from Forced Swim

Sometimes the question of what is made inside or outside
the body feels pressing. I'll be out in the world by myself,
among others—at the gym, running on the treadmill, or in
the grocery store, staring up at a punishing multiplicity of
hummus—and all of a sudden I know something endless
and dark wants its way through me, wants to take my
bones out one by one, to swallow and dissolve. In these
moments, the world drops away and I stand there
forever—my face strange, my fists tiny and strange—
sweating under the fluorescents. In these moments, I can
feel the things it's already claimed, aching just outside my
reach, like phantom limbs.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Emma Healey isn't content with re-arranging our understanding of dreamworld, she manages to throw in footnotes, sudden shifts in light, direction and volume, and it works.  These poems move the reader forward with an unsuspected weight, they have a hidden velocity.

All of this happening in poems tenderly disguised as an odyssey in modern living.  Healey plays it all out on a canvas only accessible through Stereoblind.

Our morning read was held in an almost empty office.  The Today's book of poetry minions are all away on holiday or attending to personal issues.  None the less we managed to give Healey's Stereoblind around the office and the results were surprising.  Stereoblind lent an air of cool calm to the office, and in the face of many impediments.  We're usually blasting some sort of jazz through the speakers but Radiohead seemed called for this morning.

Ontario Today

The guy wants to know if he can prune his spruce himself;
he's worried about wind. How big exactly is this tree? asks
Ed, his cadence level, tone bemused. I can't fit my arms
around it, goes the guy. Which, look: kitchen table, chairs,
dog, sink, weak sunlight, radio, your front lawn in the
bruise and split of sunrise, kids and wife asleep. The spruce
predicting shadows in the driveway, how it croons and
keens against the night in the key of future, denting,
vantage, glass outside your bedroom. How insurance is a
prayer misfiring, how deep green makes your tongue taste
rust for weeks. How you can't but gaze into a pool of water,
Ed, without a spray of needles shattering the edges. How
the air can do you violence, speaking skips against the
present, reference fails and fails again. Maybe we have to
do it this way—voice and air and wires and distance. Trust.
Maybe the only metric is attempt: what can be held by you.
What you can stand to hold.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Nothing Today's book of poetry is going to say will do justice to the "in the kitchen" level of comfort you are going to feel when you walk in to Stereoblind.  And as soon as you settle in there, Healey shifts quiet gears and you are in a Joni Mitchell "dreamland, dreamland, dreamland."  These are splendid places to be.

Today's book of poetry enjoyed Emma Healey's Stereoblind the way you enjoy an afternoon matinee during the blistering dog days of August.  A cool calm somewhere just east of dreamland, dreamland, dreamland.

Beautiful Boys

Pink silk jackets. Feathered hair, impeccable skateboards,
liquid jawlines, triplicate. Thin hands gripping thin
forearms, in a pyramid in order the Beautiful Boys
doppling down your street like a snake, or the dream you
had about a snake. Taken together they sing like distant
pavement in a heat wave, colour warbling at the edges like
a melted VHS, craft beer dying in the backs of all their
throats like a bad secret. Eyes like wrenches. Skin like
petals. Wheels that whisper to the pavement as they pass
under your window: please yes please yes please yes please

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Today's book of poetry regrets that we've been sporadic of late, there have been some absences in our office and so on.  But we are terribly happy to present Emma Healey and her splendid Stereoblind.  This is the book of poetry you need to buy today.


Image result for emma healey photo

Emma Healey

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
EMMA HEALEY’s first book of poems, Begin with the End in Mind, was published by ARP Books in 2012. Her poems and essays have been featured in places like the Los Angeles Review of Books, the FADER, the Hairpin, Real Life, the National Post, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Walrus, Toronto Life, and Canadian Art. She was poetry critic at the Globe and Mail (2014–2016) and is a regular contributor to the music blog Said the Gramophone. She was the recipient of the Irving Layton Award for Creative Writing in both 2010 and 2013, a National Magazine Award nominee in 2015, and a finalist for the K.M. Hunter award in 2016.

BLURBS

PRAISE FOR BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND: 
“Who needs a tightrope to stroll across Niagara Falls when you have the prose poem — pliable, surreal, infinitely hackable. These poems from Emma Healey signal the arrival of an exciting, nimble, new voice.” 
     — Sina Queyras

“Healey’s work operates close to the edges of contemporary poetic discourse — and sometimes beyond them . . . but [it] is also concerned with the experience of life lived in the personal present. A poet well-versed in critical and theoretical discourse but who also has a keen eye for the everyday and the real.” 
     — Philip Coleman, Penny Dreadful (Ireland)

“A bit confessional, a bit surrealist, a bit Miranda July, and very New Sincerity . . . These poems dance and ramble, propelled by an earnestness that can’t help but charm.” 
     — Nico Mara McKay, Broken Pencil


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Monday, August 13, 2018

Blackbird Song — Randy Lundy (University of Regina Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Blackbird Song.  Randy Lundy.  University of Regina Press.  Oskana Poetry & Poetics.  Regina,  Saskatchewan.  2018.


What Today's book of poetry sees most, when we rumble through the pages of Randy Lundy's sublime Blackbird Song, is optimism.  These poems have a knowing bigger than our puny understanding, an entire belief system fueling kindness.  What Randy Lundy does in Blackbird Song is nothing less than reconciliation with the earth, directed by heartsong.

Randy Lundy is a Cree poet so why do I keep thinking of Li Po, the Poet Knight-Errant?  Randy Lundy's poetry makes me think of Robert Bly because these poems are based in the natural world.  Lundy doesn't write like Li Po or Robert Bly but he writes with the same certainty, the knowledge is real.

Happiness

          after Jane Kenyon

It's true what the dying woman said,
there's no accounting for happiness.

No matter the good will you have spent
trying the patience of family and friends,
some of whom have died. Never mind
that every time you dig deep in your pockets
you find those cold, bright coins
of anger and regret.

Sparrows gather daily at the feeder
you have hung in the elm tree in the backyard
and at the earthen bowl you will fill with water
for their raucous bathing.

Sleek, bright wings glisten in the sun.
They have no shame.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

In Randy Lundy world there is time for contemplation and consideration, these aren't meditations, yet.  But in some future world where reasonable people reside, Today's book of poetry could see Blackbird Song as a cornerstone text.

Today's book of poetry is a city boy.  Not a New York City boy, but I grew up with asphalt under my feet.  Lundy, almost instantly, convinces the reader that they inhabit a world only understandable by being in step with nature.

Come to think of it, other than the short mention of a train in one of his poems, the inclusion of an axe and a cigarette in another, Lundy gives us no evidence of civilizations marring of his resplendent nature.  Lundy's world begins and ends in the natural world beyond roofs and ceilings.

Cypress Hills

Here the trees hold the stars
in their spheres. This neither a metaphor,
nor a clever trick. It is simply what to fear
from wind when the cliffs step forward
fall into emptiness.

There is no need for you
to quiet your mind, to shrink your soul
like a drought-dormant root to fit
the coulee's begging bowl.
The coyote and buffalo rubbing stone
pay no heed. The restless dead
wander through pine shadows muttering,
unable to hear your desperate invocations.

Even if they could, they would not pause
but simply vanish into the moon-soaked night
like the white-tailed deer on gleaming hooves
stepping into the mist and darkness, leaving
opposing crescent glyphs in wet earth.

Constellation after constellation turning
on the spears of the trees.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Today's book of poetry believes that Blackbird Song is a celebration and that's how we played it with this morning's reading.  We didn't want to appropriate any one's anything but we did give thanks to the maker of all things with a little tobacco smoke before starting in.

Tomas and Frieda dropped by again this morning so we were sure to get them in the reading line-up.

Randy Lundy's poems read more like good prayers, mantra's for future progress, songs for souls deeply attached to the earth under foot.  These poems feel the liturgy, a guide to new rituals, new empowerment.  Most importantly to Today's book of poetry; they embrace the earth and come back future hopeful.

Another Season

Buds on the mountain ash this spring,
a green paler than you have ever seen.

Sunlight, blackbird singing.
What more could you ask, friend?

Pilgrim, what more?

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Blackbird Song is a book of poetry you will always treasure.  These poems are as ageless as the blue, blue sky we hope to see every morning.

Image result for randy lundy photo

Randy Lundy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Randy Lundy is a member of the Barren Lands (Cree) First Nation. He has published two previous collections of poetry, Under the Night Sun and Gift of the Hawk. His work has been widely anthologized. He lives in Pense, Saskatchewan.

BLURBS
“Lundy has entered the place where the masters reside. His poems join the shades that walk among them. There aren’t many people who get to that place and sometimes it can feel very lonely there, but the masters are saved by the brilliant and humble work they have done, their poems the crevices in our lives where the light shines through." 
     – Patrick Lane, author of Washita

“Randy Lundy’s poems bring forward the spirit of his Cree ancestry, and place our species humbly among the creatures of Earth—who are all observed with deep reverence and perceptive care.” 
     – Don McKay, author of Strike/Slip

“This is the book of poems I’ve been waiting for … His poems burn us, feed us, and make us feel beloved even if we have been broken. Language, as he uses it, holds us and leads us to a place where we can mourn and pray and wonder.” 
     – Lorna Crozier, author of What the Soul Doesn’t Want

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Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern — Kristofer Collins (Hyacinth Girl Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern.  Kristofer Collins.  Hyacinth Girl Press.  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  2017.

Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern, Kristofer Collins

Today's book of poetry can flatter himself by thinking that perhaps it is because Kristofer Collins hits so close to our own poetry senses, but Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern comes roaring out of the gate fully formed and shooting from both hips.  If these poems were dancers they'd be killers and the rest of us would have to clear the floor.

Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern runs a little warmer than most.  Whatever the cause, we were some pleased.

Our friend Pistol dropped by early this morning and I had to leave him untended in my office for a few moments.  Instead of having him ransack my desk, as he does, given half a chance, I left him with Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern and told him I'd want a book report.  Pistol still isn't house-broken but he does have skills and I respect his judgment in some areas.  He doesn't write poetry but he is a fine painter and when he gives an opinion it is a considered one.

All of that to say that Today's book of poetry think we got the Pistol seal of approval for Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern.  Collins is much like our associate Pistol, good sense of humour, good sense of timing and not much concerned with propriety.  

Can't say anything about Mr. Collins because we've never met but when we say Pistol has a sense of timing we mean he knows when to throw a pass.  As far as clocks go, and being on time, Pistol is from another planet.  He showed up at the office this morning for a meeting we were to have yesterday.  

Today's book of poetry is quite sure Kristofer Collins can burn.

This Is Work

Like chipping away at the world's first
glacier with your tiny black ax; or
collecting canines from all the mouths
of all the beasts who chased their meat
across the dusty African veldt; or stacking
plate after dirty plate in your family's
first apartment until the ceiling buckles
and the stars finally take notice; or harder
still, writing one true thing.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Pistol's assessment was that he thought Collins wrote somewhat like Today's book of poetry.  I don't see it, this kid is quicker, cleaner, tighter, leaner.  But I do like the way he swaggers down a page.

These poems are simple but not simplistic.  They brim with real life just the way we live it, real love just the way we lose it, a real world.  Kristofer Collins has his eyes open.

A Belated PΕ“m For My Wife's 30th Birthday

O Christ how I want to write a poem without sputtering
in defeat only eight lines deep like some asthmatic jackhammer.
Surely it's lovely somewhere still
and isn't that remarkable enough?
Are these days unworthy of mention simply because they feel so similar?
When I say last Monday it's clear I could also mean Tuesday three months ago.
If I didn't have to pay the water bill I wouldn't know the 25th had come and gone.
But we will always have your birthday to set our watches by.
And I know Five Easy Pieces is 98 minutes long
and The 400 Blows is 99.
And somewhere in all that time unspooling a life can be lived.
That last time we sat together and talked in a movie theater,
as couples came and went around us,
you said you would come to where I worked just to look at me,
to watch me move and talk to people I appeared to know,
and sometimes act stand-offish or cruel.
You thought you could love a man like that.
And never before have you wanted to call a stranger sweetheart more.
But time passes and here we are.
And what's strange is we used to sleep in different beds in different houses.
And isn't this worth the effort of commemoration?
Isn't this worth all the time we have remaining?
Here in the dark quietly together.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Our morning read was a dam-buster of a thing.  Everyone on our staff caught the Collins vibe and we ripped through Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern as though we were evangelists who had just seen the light.  These poems roll off of the tongue so easily because they feel so read and true.  

Just like Banjo Patterson had his hero say, Mr. Collins, "you're welcome at my fire anytime."

Today's book of poetry loved the tempo and loved the feeling every time Kristofer Collins stepped on the gas and revved Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern up.

Pimlico

At the track
the serious gamblers
lug fat binders
full of stats
& equine genealogies,
grumble confidently
over spiked coffee
about sires & photo finishes
now distant in time
while I'm equipped
with a half-eaten bag of Cheetos,
the nub of a pencil
liberated from the public library,
and the absolute certainty
any horse named
after Elvis Presley
is a sure thing.

πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«

Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern is the first chapbook Today's book of poetry has seen from Pittsburgh's Hyacinth Girl Press.  Today's book of poetry is here to tell you that Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern is the best thing to come out of Pittsburgh since Sid last raised the cup.

It's also worth nothing that Salsa Night at Hilo Town Tavern is a very snappy dresser, Today's book of poetry loved the design, the funky end papers and snazzy cover, and the orange pinking-sheared ribbon binding.  It is all an over-the-top success.

Image result for kristofer collins photo

Kristofer Collins

(and if this is not Mr. Collins, Today's book of poetry
apologizes.  A conversation will be held with our
research department.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristofer Collins lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife Dr. Anna Johnson and their three cats.