Today I”m going to jot a poem down without a lot of thinking. I’m going to choose one word (probably something nature but for sure a noun) and use it as much as seems prudent in the poem. Then I’m going to the dictionary like Harryette Mullen and look up my noun. When I find out, I’m going to count 7-10 nouns away in either direction and find a substitute for the chosen noun. I’ll go back to my poem, substitute it and see if there are any interesting lines or phrases that work. Perhaps it changes everything for the better. Perhaps it’s stupid. You won’t know til you try.
Formed in the cauldron of life
out of limestone, soda, and sand,
at our best, we are pieces of glass.
Far more useful than diamonds
which flash in the light, are the windows
and lenses that clarify sight.
While mirrors are attractive, and at first
glance us please, they can distort
and may often deceive.
There’s no higher calling, than, when held
in good hands, you brighten the vision
and help understand.
So if you open a wall, magnify small, bring
something far up closer, you make good use
of the time you possess,
And so does the person who finds you,
who chooses to leave this world wiser,
and thus might forever be blessed.
Steve Williams / Munith, Michigan
If you have a poem written from one of Elizabeth Kerlikowske’s posts on this website or on Facebook that you would like to read at this meeting, please let Elizabeth know in advance. Her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shattering winter’s biting chill
is the songbird’s sonorous trill.
Piercing through it’s white landfill
is the ruby tulip, ready to kill.
Ransacking its icy rill
is the graceful swan’s orange bill.
Infecting its very spill
is the sun ray’s most treasured skill.
Niggling at its dreary shill
is the eternal hope’s cheery pill.
Generating a brand new will
is nature’s way to March uphill.
Radhika Iyer / Northville, Michigan
Her fine long legs, careful step by step
cross marsh and bog in slow dance
feeding on sweet morsels that rise
to greet sun and their demise.
A sound, she listens – one leg poised midair
towering above, still art – a comma,
a question mark buried in mud, messages
etched into the inner flesh of birchbark
still held by the curve of riverbanks
still layered with our relatives’
dust and their tarpaper shacks
still remembered by Ajijaak.
Nina I. Graig / Kalamazoo, Michigan
Michigan poets who have been appreciated internationally will be highlighted by having their poems enlarged in freestanding frames in downtown South Lyon and Paul Baker Park for the month of April, National Poetry Month, sponsored by the Cultural Arts Commission of South Lyon. Among the featured poets are MPS Honorary Chancellor, Eric Torgersen.
The free-standing frames, in which the enlarged poems will be housed, were provided by the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs as part of a previous Art and Commerce Grant for holding artworks.
Poets whose work will be displayed are: Terry Blackhawk (Detroit; Mexico), Melba Boyd, (Detroit; China), Linda Nemec Foster (Grand Rapids; Poland), Tom Lynch (Milford; Ireland), Christine Rhein (Brighton; Italy), Jack Ridl (Saugatuck; Germany), Alison Swan (Ann Arbor, Ireland), Eric Torgerson (Mount Pleasant; Italy) and Melba Boyd (Detroit; China).
With In Which We See Our Selves, Eric Torgersen begins with the formal structure of the ghazal as popularized by Agha Shahid Ali and unapologetically makes a more American thing of it, arguing in his Afterword that this transformation is as inevitable as what happens when the children of immigrant parents pass through an American junior high school: not everyone is pleased with the result. “I’ve tried to avoid faux-Eastern themes and tones,” he writes. Fluently metrical and effortlessly rhymed, at times in short, hard-hitting lines with refrains as brief as a single word, these poems leap off the page with speech as American as this:
My gang all quit when I didn’t split the take right.
We crashed and burned when I didn’t hit the brake right.
(Click the cover photo to order from Mayapple Press)
Eric Torgersen was born in Melville, New York. He has a BA in German Literature from Cornell University; after two years in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, he earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa. He retired in the spring of 2008 after 38 years of teaching writing at Central Michigan University. He lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan with his wife, the quilt artist Ann Kowaleski. Since retiring, Eric has volunteered for the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy. He enjoys fishing and foraging for wild mushrooms. He is available for workshops and readings.
Mr. Torgersen is presently serving a two-year term as Honorary Chancellor of the Poetry Society of Michigan.
Spindrift suggests stuff blown onto beaches, beaches of discovery in one’s mind. When these poems show a squirrel, a fish, birds, a beggar, an Irish pub, or a dish we see these as metaphors which conjure up ideas or feelings from our own familiarity with them. A poem that begins as an abstraction, like an enemy or peace or patience, becomes objectified. Spindrift is comprised of whatever little gems might be found along the shore, examined closely to become part of the reader’s experience. These jottings of spindrift take off from that experience like going to an airport when you want to be someplace else – or like poems which say one thing when they mean another.
Laurence W. Thomas is the founding editor of Third Wednesday Magazine. He has been around long enough to know the sting of rejection and the salve of acceptance. His shelves are lined with his own publications as well as the works of many other poets. He Chancelor Emertus of the Poetry Society of Michigan.
I HEAR HAWKS
before I see them
scree scree at regular intervals,
doppler waves sounding the distance
flattened wings circle thermals overhead,
or the chorus of shrilly scolding bird flocks
chasing until it drops its young prey,
or squawking chickens when they see a shadow
of this predator too late to flee,
or the soft unexpected thwup on fence
when it lands, as stunned as I am,
a heart leaping arm’s length away,
eyes devouring me where I stand.
Nancy Shattuck / Farmington Hills, Michigan