POEM: Visitors

Don’t tell me stories about screaming trees.
I’ve heard them in the forest after dark.

Strange boats landed on the shore from vast seas,
carrying saws to make a proper park
of old growth lands that lay beyond the known
and sweep up the sun-dappled leaf litter,
sowing where they’d reaped & reaping what they’d sown,
silencing the chitter of bird and critter.

Rearranging, like bedroom furnishings,
the space of nature’s grand, endless chaos.
Building fences, trapping, and clipping wings.
They spay and spray and pray, and scrape the moss.

The boats, long since rotted, landed near here
between that Taco Bell and the concrete pier.

POEM: No Rage Left, Mr. Thomas

Some rage against the dying of the light.
Some rage at the neon glow through their window,
catching them in the eye after midnight,
slowing time’s movement to a viscous flow.

Some rage about the sassy, sloppy youth.
Others rage that the old can’t understand.
Some rage when strangers sit down in their booth.
Others rage when things don’t go as planned.

Some rage about how time moves too quickly.
Others rage that we’re all stuck in the past.
Some rage until they’re tired and sickly.
Some rage they missed out by saving best for last.

You wonder why the lack of deathbed rage?
Let’s call it the wisdom of the end-stage.

BOOK REVIEW: Classic Poems to Read Aloud Sel. by James Berry

Classic Poems to Read AloudClassic Poems to Read Aloud by James Berry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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This anthology consists of about 160 poems arranged in eleven thematic chapters. As the title suggests, the theme of the collection is poems that have a beauty of sound about them. As one might expect, this means there are a lot of metered and rhymed poems. However, one would be wrong to think that no free verse works were included. One might also assume that “classic poems” means that none of them were written by poets living from the latter half of the 20th century onwards. But, in addition to the pieces by the anthologist, Berry, there are a number of such authors, including: Shel Silverstein, Kit Wright, and Sylvia Plath. Most of the poems are short form poems that range from less than a page to two pages. Of the the longer poems, those that are more than a few pages are excerpted.

This is a great collection to introduce children to poetry, though it was clearly meant for all ages. It has a number of poems that have the requisite silliness to appeal to youngsters written by poets such as Ogden Nash, Lewis Carroll, A.A. Milne, Hilaire Belloc, and others. And, of course, the selected poems are pleasing to the ear for reading aloud. Furthermore, it has line drawn illustrations, though not linked to every poem.

Some of my favorites that are included in this collection are: Blake’s “The Tiger,” Lord Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty,” Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan,” Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Kipling’s “If,” Carroll’s “The Mad Gardener’s Song” and “Jabberwocky,” Shakespeare’s “St. Crispin’s Day Speech” [from “Henry V,”] and Whitman’s “Oh Captain! My Captain!” However, it was also pleasing to find many poems that I hadn’t read a hundred times (or even once) before in the anthology as well.

I highly recommend this book for poetry readers, especially those who are interested in the sound quality of poems or those who are looking to introduce a child to poetry.

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POEM: Tesseract Rest

I had a patio into 4th dimensional space.

It was in a shape I couldn’t imagine,

&

I painted it a color that doesn’t exist.

Sometimes it warped into a torus,

&,

inconveniently,

it popped in & out of existence without warning

on more than one occasion.

But it was a fine place to watch the sun come in at the end of a long eternity.

POEM: Ode to Cheese

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” — G.K. Chesterton



Ah, Mister Chesterton, I must concur.
The Camembert love is lacking, Monsieur!
If there’s a way to make bacon better,
surely it’s smothering it in Cheddar.

On bread and water prisoners endure,
but brie with bread is the height of grandeur.
What, say you, is more addictive than crack?
Just a cracker topped with Monterey Jack.

Yes, poets obsess on love and death,
but you can smell the Roquefort on their breath.
[OK, there’s no budget for Roquefort,
truth is, it’s a canned cheese of some sort.]

BOOK REVIEW: It’s Not Magic by Jon Sands

It's Not MagicIt’s Not Magic by Jon Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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This is a collection of (mostly) prose and free verse poetry. The content is largely autobiographical in nature. Sands was one of five winners of the 2018 National Poetry Series award, winning with this title.

My own impression of “It’s Not Magic,” is that it started stronger than it finished. I can’t say whether that was because it’s truly more brilliant up front, or whether I just tired of its approach and tone. If you’re accustomed to poetry which shows you the universe larger and louder than life, and in which one has to strain to glimpse the poet, that’s not what you’ll find here. This is a kid jotting about things that happened in his life and insights he’s had. I credit the work that it’s not so angsty that it takes one out on the ledge. It’s cleverly cynical in places, and in places it’s reminiscent of Beat poetry.

I don’t know how useful recommendations are for this type of work. I think some will love it, and for others it will be just, “meh!” Hopefully, I’ve given some insight into which category you are likely to fall, but – if not – I understand.

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