Thursday, June 23, 2016

Poetry Month Day 23, Selections from _Swidden Fields_

So, a million years ago, when I was doing my first degree (BA English/History), I took a class on poetry writing, which was amazing. It was a once a week seminar, where 15 of us met, shared new poems (at least one a week, that was the rule), critiqued each others work, and generally dug deeply and drank fully of each others passion and such. Often, we met off campus, with food and sometimes alcohol. Occasionally, we would leave class (it was an evening class) and go to a bar. It was very very good, exactly the sort of thing everyone tells you college is going to be (except it mostly isn't. Except when it is, and when it is, it sort of makes the rest of it worth the effort). At the end of the semester, we printed a short chapbook to which each of us contributed a poem or two (it's got an ISBN, it counts as a publication credit!). Here are three or four selections from the chap book (not my offerings, other peoples.)

Des Davidge (Des was an older gentleman, somewhat of an anomaly in the class, which was mostly female and mostly younger - college seniors, not senior citizens. His poetry has a lot of nature imagery, and tends towards the narrative or descriptive, which is great.)

Harvest Journey

We climb to the top of the last load of the day
         swaying on that rutted road.

Our bodies mold a bed in rich fresh scent,
the sound of horses' hoofs and metal wheels
               muffled by the evening
you measure the soft white of your hand
          against my callused fingers.

     Seeded heads tickle along my spine
the smell of you mingling with the aroma of hay
                         soft and quiet
        I am full - only my eyes can speak.

Catherine Glass

More than Sex

The salty taste of your skin
Keeps me buoyant
Like a swimmer in the Dead Sea

(We were young, 18, 19, 20. Lots and lots of poems about sex, more or less)

Dianna Graham

wilderness notes

the skin of still-blind mice in winter
the eyelid's gloss

the freshborn flesh of tadpoles
irises flicking

a fiddlehead  cupped gently in my palm
     your body   naked
          furled upon my bed

(See? Also, we did a lot of playing with the position of text on the page; odd line breaks and spacing - and some of us thought we were e.e. cummings, you know?)

M (don't mock - my poems were published under the name Michael Delphinius - we were young and soooo pretentious! But the poetry was pretty good.)

Let us come to some conclusion

Let us come to some conclusion
something to cancel the crease of time
Let us seize the distance between cities
the dept separating silence and slumber
Let us carve the ceiling   paint it blue

              (let us create the sky anew).

Sarah Mayes (I seem to remember Sarah as the youngest of the group?)


my strand
    of hair
on your collar
    is a snake
           to strike

Carolyn Tilley (Carolyn is the only one of the group I've stayed in touch with - I knew her before the class. Carolyn was always a little crazy; I met her because she posted posters with a rant about Miss Piggy all over campus [she was a strong supporter of Miss Piggy, I seem to recall] and included her e-mail address. This was back when e-mail was still kinda new and exciting. A poet all the way down to her combat boots)


A hand on my shoulder
and one on my back...
I wish you wouldn't
but you seem earnest,
so I'll let it pass.

A lean, a whisper, a wink...
You say I have the eyes of an actress,
I say, it takes one to know one.
You tell nice lies,
so I'll let it pass.

Has practice made you convincing?
Or is it thinking that you're the best -
the confidence of an artist?

I wonder at the years that brought you to me,
are you watching this or ... directing?


Ahhhh, the fruits of a mis-spent (or properly spent?) youth.