Saturday, May 16, 2015

Today's poem: "Notes from a Salt Flat Prisoner" by Noel Crook

The following poem is my final selection from Noel Crook's gorgeous collection, Salt Moon (SIU Press, 2015).

On this island, love, there is nothing but black
and white—the sea’s flat back that keeps us,
bleak shards of coral honed sharp as knives
by tireless wavelets. And the salt—vast,
blinding pans for us to rake. It galls
our wrists and shins like manacles.

Read the rest of the poem here. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Today's poem: "The Secret Lives of Animals" by Noel Crook

This stunning poem is by Noel Crook from her collection Salt Moon (SIU Press, 2015).

The Secret Lives of Animals

One chicken I have loved, bought with my own nickel
at the Feed and Grain when I was nine, taken from my arms
when he outgrew the wire cage beside my bed, stood tiptoe,
and opened the red flower of his throat
to the sun.

Three children I have raised to their season of breast-bud
and first shaves, and in the hothouse darkness of their rooms
their desires tendril into places
I cannot nurture.

Seven dogs I have loved, including the rescue with a taste
for his own shit, not least the childhood spaniel mix
who made quick work of my best hamster. And now this
small white terrier, bred to please, who shimmies with joy
when she greets me mornings, whose best friend is the gray
cat, half prince of sofa-shadow, half Jeffrey Dahmer,
that-- if the dog were smaller and the timing right--
might lick her heart.

And who am I to unlove the terrier for her descents
into the cat's basement workshop-- uncollared dark
from which she returns, tail wagging, bearing a crenulated,
meat-tipped wing or garnet-throated chipmunk head? Once,
at my oldest's age, I brought home to my mother
a necklace of hickeys, crimson as suns, each mouth-shaped
mark a talisman of want's slow burn, secreted in my mind
the look of the boy with freckles and red hair,
his lip pulled back to ugly snarl when I undid
the buttons on my dress.

At night, the young dog shimmers like a moth across the grass,
and, though invisible in shadow, I know the cat flits
in tandem, lets her flat-back him in the mulch, purrs ecstatic

when she mock-mauls his upturned gullet-- wild pantomime
of hungers I can and cannot fathom, while Here sweetling,
I call her. Here wilding. Come to mama. 


Noel Crook is the author of Salt Moon (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry first book award, and the chapbook, Canyon (Red Dragonfly Press). Crook’s poems have appeared in Best New Poets, New Letters, Shenandoah and other journals. She is the poetry editor for Sun Editions and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Today's poem: "Crows" by Noel Crook

This week, I'm reading Noel Crook's collection Salt Moon, winner of the 2014 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. I'm haunted by her poem "Crows" that first appeared in Southeast Review

What is it the crows know this first real day of fall
when the sky's gone vacuous and the air thins?
They bark on the lawn in their raucous code,

plumage blue-black smoke of a city

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A new review of Come To Me and Drink

I am grateful to Tawnysha Greene for her lovely review of my chapbook, Come To Me and Drink, which appears in the May 2015 issue of Stirring: A Literary Collection. Click here to read the review.

Today's Poem: "Ars Poetica" by Linda Pastan

One of the joys of subscribing to literary journals is reading new work by a favorite poet. When I opened the Summer 2015 issue of The Gettysburg Review today, I was delighted to see three poems by Linda Pastan included. I've posted the full text of one of her poems below, but you'll have to buy a copy of this journal to read the others. Pastan's next collection, Insomnia, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton this fall.

Ars Poetica
for Billy Collins

As I sit reading your book of poems,
page after page
of ordinary things
but with a twist-- the kind of flavor
a twist of lime can give
a gin and tonic,

I wonder why I can't
write poems like that, melancholy
but not sad exactly,
instead of writing the way
I always do
under a darkening cloud.

And so I take pencil to paper
and try to describe your book,
why it makes me happy.
But here comes that cloud again,
no larger at the moment
than a man's hand.  

-Linda Pastan
from The Gettysburg Review, Summer 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Today's poem: "Antiphony" by Patty Paine

I've been a fan of Patty Paine's work for a while now. Her first full-length collection, The Sounding Machine, is a beautiful book, and I'm looking forward to the release of her next collection, Grief & Other Animals. Until then, I'll have to be patient, and after reading one of Paine's new poems, "Antiphony," in the May 2015 issue of Thrush, I know her new collection will be worth the wait.

Go back to that stream, touch
your lips to the cold, clear quivering,
draw into yourself a time when it was simple
as this to be quenched, to draw in what was

Read the rest of the poem. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What I'm Reading: The Alchemy of My Mortal Form by Sandy Longhorn

This week, I'm savoring Sandy Longhorn's new collection, The Alchemy of My Mortal Form, winner of the 2014 Louise Bogan Award and published by Trio House Press. Following are the first two stanzas of a poem from the collection, "That Which Blooms Beyond Where It Is Planted." You can read the rest of the poem at the link provided.

This new blood has taken root,
my donor replete & replicate.
I felt it first as a flutter in the womb,

then a surge of cells thickening,
an added weight drawing me back
to my own body.

Read the rest of the poem.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Today's poem: "Pigeons at Dawn" by Charles Simic

Extraordinary efforts are being made
To hide things from us, my friend.
Some stay up into the wee hours
To search their souls. 
Read the rest of the poem.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Poet of the Week: Charles Simic

This week's poet is Charles Simic. Click here to read the poet's bio.

We have a lifetime to read but will not be able to read everything by everyone. Hopefully, by offering this feature, you and I might share a little space together where we read as much poetry as we can. 

Simic's work has always fascinated me. I'm delighted to share his poetry with you this week.

Today's poem is "On this Very Street in Belgrade."

Your mother carried you
Out of the smoking ruins of a building
And set you down on this sidewalk

Read the rest of this poem. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Today's poem: "Louisiana Line" by Betty Adcock

The wooden scent of wagons,   
the sweat of animals—these places   
keep everything—breath of the cotton gin,   
black damp floors of the icehouse.   

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Today's poem: "Found" by Betty Adcock

Half buried in gravel and winter on
a dawn-damp Colorado trail,
the elk antler trembled as I dug it out.

Read the rest of the poem. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Poet of the Week: Betty Adcock

The poet for this week is Betty Adcock. Click here to read the poet's bio.

As a native North Carolinian, I'm always looking for poets to revisit from my home state. Adcock was one of the first poets I clung to when I moved away and I'm delighted to revisit her work this week with you. 

Today's poem is "January." 
Dusk and snow this hour 
in argument have settled 
nothing. Light persists, 
and darkness. 

Read the rest of the poem. 


Monday, April 6, 2015

Poet of the Week

Due to a very busy week of events, there will be no posts for this feature. However, do spend some time reading the previous poems by Margaret Atwood and Lynda Hull. The feature will return next week. Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Today's poem: "In Another Country" by Lynda Hull

If Baroque were more than a manner
of music, it would be this last afternoon.
Sun, disciplined by hours, moves slowly
across the floor. 

Read the rest of the poem.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Today's poem: "The Window" by Lynda Hull

Streak of world blurred charcoal & scarlet, the El slows,
brakes near the platform, Little Chinatown,
& there’s that window, peeling frame, screen split

to rippling raingusts.

Read the rest of the poem. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Poet of the Week: Lynda Hull

The poet for this week is Lynda Hull. Poems will be posted on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Click here to read the poet's bio.

Hull is one of those poets many of my friends love and admire, and a writer whose work I've wanted to know for some time. Here's my chance and yours, if this is a poet with whom you're not familiar.

Today's poem is "Black Mare."

It snakes behind me, this invisible chain gang—
the aliases, your many faces peopling

that vast hotel, the past. What did we learn?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Today's poem: "February" by Margaret Atwood

Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,   
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries   
to get onto my head.

Read the rest of the poem.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Today's poem: "They are hostile nations" by Margaret Atwood

In view of the fading animals
the proliferation of sewers and fears   
the sea clogging, the air
nearing extinction 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Poet of the Week

Each week, I will choose one poet to feature on my blog. This week's poet is Margaret Atwood and today's poem is "Variation on the Word Sleep." Click here to read the poem.