SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: F. E. CLARK

“Daily Painting, 12th June 2017” by F. E. Clark


By F. E. Clark:


MYOPIA

We lost the far away from our eyes
peering at our precious tiny screens.
Addicted to the chatter in the blue light
we spat and growled at the slam, slam, slam,
of constant crisis, constant cries.
We marched figuratively through our newsfeeds,
wound tighter and tighter—blinded,
to that which was not inside our screens.
And all the while the earth was turning,
away, away, away.
Until we could see her
no more, and we were gone.


TO BRING THE SKY DOWN

A scared flame of violet – burnt from a found bone,

The indigo of your first lover’s jeans,

High sky blue of a day in spring when the larks sung,

Green fired algae from the dead pond’s ditch

Yellow of the belly of the one who cowers,

Orange from the fungi that grows under the dead fox,

The red of a berry that poisons.

Plait the rainbow – red over orange, yellow over green, blue over indigo,

Tie with violet at the deepest hour of black,

Make sure you bind the rainbow’s ends tight,

When required, cast from a clifftop on a dark moon night.



“Myopia” previously appeared in Burning House Review, and “To Bring the Sky Down” previously appeared in Luna Luna Magazine. These poems appear here today with permission from the poet.



F. E. Clark lives in Scotland. She writes, paints, and takes photographs—inspired by nature in all its forms. A Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions nominee, her poetry, flash-fiction, and short stories can be found in anthologies and literary magazines.

Contributing Editor’s Note: In “Myopia,” F. E. Clark takes an existential view of what has become second nature to all of us: looking at our phones while ignoring the world around us. The poem is written in the past tense and reveals the sad outcome of having lived our lives through a few inches of screen. She exposes the profound sadness when, “We lose the far away from our eyes” and are exposed to “constant crisis, constant cries” as we respond and read social media and news feeds, while the world continues its routing rotating When we “away, away, away.” And at the same time turning its back on us. Her dystopic conclusion is that the less we participate in the world, the less we ourselves exists.

Clark regains her vision of what life can be in her poem, “To Bring the Sky Down.” Her remedy for the blindness she encountered in “Myopia” is keen observation reinforced by incantatory rhythms. What she sees when she looks closely at the world around her is remarkable. Clark finds antidotes in vivid technicolor, among the discarded, “The indigo from your first lover’s jeans”; the decayed, “Orange from the fungi that grows under the dead fox”; and the dead, “Green fired algae from the dead pond’s pitch”. She collects strands of color, plaiting them into a rainbow for eventual use in the darkest times.

Want to read more by F. E. Clark?
F. E. Clark’s Official Website
Twitter: @feclarkart
Umbel & Panicle
Mojave Heart Review
Luna Luna Magazine



Contributing Editor Alan Toltzis is the author of The Last Commandment. Recent work has appeared in print and online publications including Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and Cold Noon. Find him online at alantoltzis.com.



A NOTE FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:

After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of contributing editors, including the one featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan Butler-Rotholz, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB

 

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: AMY WATKINS

MURMURATION
By Amy Watkins

An osprey beats the wind with bowed wings,
steady till it drops and shakes in flight.
The wind catches and it rises again.
I watch from the porch where I’ve come early
to stop avoiding our father’s call. Last night,
I turned the ringer off then on then off again,
swiped down to ignore but texted back.
There are two birds in the tree across the street
and a third circling and circling, rising and falling
in the wind from a distant hurricane.
The phone rings. He wants to talk about you.

They say each bird attends to just seven others, and,
in this way, a thousand starlings turn together
like one creature. I’ll try not to make this a metaphor.
Once, you and I climbed the hills outside
Florence, Italy. Our dearest ones climbed with us
and, because we were few and each one loved
by all the others, I thought we made a kind of net
that might hold the breaking world together.
A murmuration of starlings unfurled like the aurora
borealis, a sheer curtain caught in wind,
twisting, tracing a path through twilight.

A hawk swoops low over the osprey nest.
I think it might land, but it doesn’t. You ask to meet
for coffee. Our father calls, and I don’t answer.



Today’s poem previously appeared in SWWIM and appears here today with permission from the poet.


Amy Watkins grew up in central Florida surrounded by saw palmetto and sugar sand and a big, close-knit, religious family: the kind of upbringing that’s produced generations of southern writers. She married her high school sweetheart, had a baby girl, and earned her MFA in writing from Spalding University. She is the author of two chapbooks forthcoming in 2019: Wolf Daughter (Sundress Publications) and Lucky (Bottlecap Press). Follow her on Twitter @amykwatkins.

Contributing Editor’s Note: Amy Watkin’s poem, “Murmuration,” is a coming together of worlds. First, there’s the easy mixture of nature and the modern digital world. She closely watches ospreys, how one “drops and shakes in flight. / The wind catches and it rises again.” and then “two birds in a tree across the street / and a third circling, rising and falling.” These innate animal behaviors echo her own modern-day habits with her cell phone—“I turned the ringer on then off again, / swiped down to ignore but texted back.”

She also employs the world of the sacred and the secular, which she hints at through controlled and purposeful ambiguity in word choice. For instance, Watkins selects the homonym “bowed” for the angle of the osprey’s wings in flight. When she decides to finally take a phone call from her dad, it becomes a holy act when she arrives “early / to stop avoiding our father’s call.” Her level of her control and precision is astonishing when, for a moment, she takes herself out of the poem and cautions the reader “I’ll try not to make this a metaphor.” Of course, this line has just the opposite effect and we focus more intensely on the rich metaphors throughout the poem.

Watkins pays pays off the title of the poem in grand style describing “A murmuration of starlings unfurled like the aurura / borealis,”—a startling and beautiful image that ties everything gracefully together. “Murmuration” is an emotional and beautifully crafted poem that works on many levels. The poem rewards deeply upon close reading.

Want to read more by and about Amy Watkins?
Red Lion Sq.
Burrow Press
Glass: A Journal of Poetry
Drunk Monkeys
Emrys Journal



Contributing Editor Alan Toltzis is the author of The Last Commandment. Recent work has appeared in print and online publications including Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and Cold Noon. Find him online at alantoltzis.com.



A NOTE FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:

After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of contributing editors, including the one featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan Butler-Rotholz, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB

 

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: CL BLEDSOE

DREAMCATCHER
By CL Bledsoe

Her hair is a tangled field of sweet straw
knocked crooked in heavy winds, catching
any light that stumbles nearby. Maybe this
is why she radiates heat, when I’m trying
to nap, sick, on the couch and she perches high
on my side watching screaming cartoons. Dazzled
strangers stop us on sidewalks to remind us
in case we’ve forgotten: life isn’t always gray. It’s not.
Bees follow us to get at the pollen they can smell
trapped in the mess. I thump them away
when they get too close and scare her. If I had time,
I’d learn to collect their honey, walk her through
the sweetest fields, open a boutique to pay
for college. But I can barely remember to stop smiling
long enough to thank the policeman for the speeding
ticket most mornings. Brushes are an enemy to her,
the confining toil of hair ties lead to tears. Stickers lost
are found. Twigs. Fuzz. All of it down the drain with
the bath water. It won’t last.



Today’s poem previously appeared in Mockingheart Review and appears here today with permission from the poet.


CL Bledsoe‘s most recent books are the poetry collections Trashcans in Love and King of Loneliness and the novel The Funny Thing About… He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter and blogs (with Michael Gushue) at How To Even…

Guest Editor’s Note: There are not many poems full of unabashed joy and magic, but CL Bledsoe’s “Dreamcatcher” is one of them. The language continually surprises as it turns a little girl’s head of blonde hair into a dreamcatcher, full of wonderment and mystery. Bledsoe moves with alacrity and agility from the initial simile that describes his daughter’s hair “as a tangled field of sweet straw / knocked crooked in heavy winds, catching / any light that stumbles nearby.” Nothing in this poem feels forced, even though he never lets an opportunity go by without pushing the language and imagery as hard as he can, to capture the girl’s spirit as she “radiates heat” or “perches high” when “watching screaming cartoons” to reveal the joy he experiences simply by being open to the wonders of his daughter’s essence. This is a poem that truly shows us that “life isn’t always gray” and the wonder that occurs as “Bees follow us to get at the pollen they can smell / trapped in the mess.” Read it, smile, and bask in the sunlight that Bledsoe has captured.

Want to read more by and about CL Bledsoe?
Amazon Author Page
How To Even blog
Not Another TV Dad blog
Not Another TV Dad column





Guest Editor Alan Toltzis is the author of The Last Commandment. Recent work has appeared in print and online publications including Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and Cold Noon. Find him online at alantoltzis.com.



A NOTE FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:

After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of guest editors, including the editor featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan Butler-Rotholz, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB

 

“Creatures of Our Better Nature” By John Dorsey

 

Creatures of Our Better Nature

as i stop to watch the gossip of a bluebird
through a dirty glass window
i think it is november
& i’m sipping champagne
on a half built deck
in the woods
that may never get finished

just me & some lonely bluebird
fluttering our wings
like crazed teenagers
mauling each other
in front of some steamy glass sunset
on some makeout mountain
that even time
can’t look away from  

for a few seconds i am that bird
& that bird is me

& we are both beautiful here

when all at once
the sun wraps its fingers
around our throats
& begins to sing.

.

About the Author: John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Press, 2017). He is the current Poet Laureate of Belle, MO. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com

 

Image Credit: “Peacocks” by Melchior d’ Hondecoeter

“Robbie the Owl” By Ryan Quinn Flanagan

 

Robbie the Owl

My wife and I watch this show about this owl
who is not fit for the wild
and has imprinted on humans.

His name is Robbie the Owl.
He sits on their arms and eats handouts
because he doesn’t know how
to hunt for himself.

And they take him out to the forest each day.
Beat the ridges of leaves with sticks
to make the rabbits and squirrels run out
into the open.

Hoping Robbie will forget that he is a human
and remember he is a Great Horned Owl.

That his genetics will kick in.

Training him each night in the barn
to fly through impediments.
To learn to locate, manoeuver
and kill.

And Robbie does not disappoint.
When he kills his first rabbit and they
try to approach his kill, he throws
out his wings in dominance.

They step away
and could not be
prouder.

I tell my wife that I am proud of Robbie too.
That he is resurrecting the good name
of Robbie after that douchebag from Dirty Dancing
ruined it for everyone.

He’s bringing sexy back,
I say.

I think you really like Robbie,
she says.

I tell her I do
and show her my teeth
because it has been
awhile.

.

About the Author: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many mounds of snow.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

 

Image Credit: from A Book of Cheerful Cats and Other Animated Animals By JG Francis

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: IRIS JAMAHL DUNKLE

DAPHNE’S BROKEN SONNET
By Iris Jamahl Dunkle


Apples are imagining themselves
onto hillsides – pink petals stick out their
tongues from the dark mouths of branches 
and the forest canopy ripens overnight
until it pulses like a green heart. Spring
frankensteins us all—softens our cyborg
brains (Admit it:  you were thinking about what
mysteries your phone will sing out!
) While your
body turns like a tree toward the light. Reader,
somedays it’s just too much: powder blue sky,
light wind stirring the leaves as if they are
waving, no, beckoning me to root 
and join in. How could I not give in? Trying
to find the song that’s buried in the soil.



Today’s poem first appeared in SWWIM Every Day and is reprinted here today with permission from the poet.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle was the 2017-2018 Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, CA. Interrupted Geographies, published by Trio House Press, is her third collection of poetry. It was featured as the Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection for July 2017. Her debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, was selected by Ross Gay to win the 2012 Trio Award. Her second collection, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air was published in 2015. Her work has been published in numerous publications including San Francisco Chronicle, Fence, Calyx, Catamaran, Poet’s Market 2013, Women’s Studies and Chicago Quarterly Review. Dunkle teaches at Napa Valley College and is the Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. 

Guest Editor’s Note: The octave from the beginning of this beautifully imperfect sonnet presents pastoral images that set a mood disrupted by the use of frankensteins as a verb, an abruptly delightful and unexpected choice by the poet, reminding us of what humans have done to the natural world to which we are aching to return and how it has affected us. And yet, “It’s just too much” for the speaker who in answer to a final question becomes a tree, as the mythical Daphne did to escape Apollo just before he caught up to her. Escaping into the natural world is an appealing idea when faced with how things have turned out or how things are headed for disaster.

This melding of sonnet forms—traditional, modern, old, and new—offers two voltas, significant turns in meaning, and the first happens at the beginning of the sestet with a simile that compares the body to a tree as it turns toward light. This is where the sonnet leaves its mark on the reader, who is then addressed directly with an anguish of images that lure the speaker to dig deep “to find the song that’s buried in the soil.” The second turn is the speaker’s response to the leaves and their beckoning. Once the speaker has taken root, this “broken sonnet” ends in a line of perfect iambic pentameter, repairing itself.

Want to read more by and about Iris Jamahl Dunkle?
Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s Official Website


Guest Editor Anne Graue is the author of Fig Tree in Winter (Dancing Girl Press), and has published poems in literary journals and anthologies, including The Book of Donuts (Terrapin Books), Blood and Roses: A Devotional for Aphrodite and Venus (Bibliotheca Alexandrina), Gluttony (Pure Slush Books), The Plath Poetry Project, One Sentence Poems, Random Sample Review, Into the Void Magazine, Allegro Poetry Magazine, and Rivet Journal.

A NOTE FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:

After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of guest editors, including the editor featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB


SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: LYNN POWELL


By Lynn Powell:


THE MOON RISING

Sly old guru, Rorschach moon,
you’re calling me again with your round riddle,
your paradox of Ohm and moan.
All day the sun was up on its soapbox, a Pollyanna
casting out the darkness in everybody else.
Now we’re back at the window where we started—
me with my midnight weakness, and you
with your sleight-of-silver ministry
to anyone unguarded and alone.

Slow moon, you’ve lingered near the cloister and the dance hall,
laid your soft law down on wide and narrow beds.
You’ve faced yourself in ponds, thrown yourself
on the mercy of a moody sea. You’ve been the slick
Houdini of horizons, sliding out of each tight spot
the night has tried to trap you in.
What’s left for me to misconstrue?

I’m tired of my mind and its whitewash,
tired of your low-light revelations.
And how will I find the dark forest if you keep
murmuring silky nothings to the trees?

Cold moon, unmake me
in your image. Pare me down
to the bleak beatitude, the black sum
of all you know for sure.



AT THE EQUINOX

             Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew?
                                                                         —Job 38:28

From the car window, after the fog lifts,
the autumn fields flash with sudden flowers—

              like filigrees of mirror, like alloys of lace and light.

A weird miracle? Some brilliant, manic manna?
Until, of course, it’s only spiders—ten thousand

              that have worked the dark with rigs of silk

to snag a fly and then, surprising themselves,
have step-fathered the dew.

              And so, for an odd hour, hunger

glistens in galaxies, sieved
from passing thoughts of lake and air.



Today’s poems are from the collection Season of the Second Thought (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017), copyright Lynn Powell, and appear here today with permission from the poet.

Lynn Powell has published three books of poetry: Season of the Second Thought (winner of the 2017 Felix Pollak Prize), The Zones of Paradise, and Old & New Testaments. Her nonfiction book Framing Innocence won the Studs & Ida Terkel Award from The New Press in 2010. A native of East Tennessee, Powell teaches in the Creative Writing Program of Oberlin College.

Guest Editor’s Note: Lynn Powell’s work is reminiscent of “The Parable of the Sunfish” in Ezra Pound’s ABC of Reading. Powell is a poet who gains deep understanding and insight into her subjects, examining them over and over from unique angles until she has observed their essence. In “The Moon Rising,” for instance, the moon is a “Sly, old guru” a “Rorschach,” a “slick/Houdini of the horizons.” It possesses a “slight of hand ministry” or can lay its “soft law down on wide and narrow beds.”

Throughout her collection Seasons of the Second Thought, line by line Powell examines, prods, and dissects until she has mastered her subject, rewarding her readers with an intimacy and understanding that is both profound and revealing. In “At the Equinox,” she observes the world with such intensity that she is able to see the creators of the miracle she is viewing not as their mundane selves — “only spiders—ten thousand” — but as creatures that “have step-fathered the dew.” Powell’s work is an enlightenment that allows the reader to see the world for what it can be when observed fully.

Want to read more by and about Lynn Powell?
Buy Seasons of the Second Thought from University of Wisconsin Press
POETRY Magazine
Bellingham Review
Shenandoah
American Literary Review


Guest Editor Alan Toltzis is the author of The Last Commandment. Recent work has appeared in print and online publications including Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and Cold Noon. Find him online at alantoltzis.com.

A NOTE FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:

After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of guest editors, including the editor featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB