on a whim and a whisper, a poem

over the woman’s left shoulder
your breath hummed
a background dirge…
for the echo of her lonely feet
plodding the snow-covered streets
to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital,
dripping shame with her broken water
while you wed another in the Byzantine manner
No used-goods for you though you were the user
The child born saw the mote in your eye
growing like Pinocchio’s nose
when, as kin to a secret vice,
you kept her in your dresser drawer
to be pulled out on a whim and a whisper
Is anyone looking?
You missed the wedding
and the short tortured marriage …
You were never there
to teach her how to be with men…
and you weren’t there
when the sweet boy was born
Then, one year,
in honor of Father’s Day,
they dug up your casket
popped the lid open
and set themselves free at last

© 2017, poem, Jamie Dedes; Phoenix Rising photograph courtesy of morgueFile


Jamie’s THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

the hawk has flown, a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

black and white
“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.”
― George Carlin


white
a ghostly memory
of damask roses
night-booming jasmine
olive trees, heavy with fruit

black
reimagined into white and
gone the fear of bombs
gone the crumbled buildings and crushed hearts
the abandoned cities, the empty streets
now the children play, they study
the houses stand and the gardens grow
hope towers, a moral high-ground
the ghost is the dove
and the hawk has flown

© 2016, poem and Illustration, Jamie Dedes; All rights reserved; the Bleeding Heart Dove photo below is courtesy of morgueFile.


WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Times and places of peace leave no scars to jog our memories and stoke the fires of our hope. Remember peace or imagine it: What would a world at peace look like?

If you feel comfortable, leave your poetry or prose or a link to it in the comments section below.  All work shared in response to this prompt will be published in a post here next Tuesday.


Jamie’s THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

abridged. and other poems in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt


“I think that were beginning to remember that the first poets didn’t come out of a classroom, that poetry began when somebody walked off of a savanna or out of a cave and looked up at the sky with wonder and said, ‘Ahhh.’ That was the first poem.” Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

Celebrating American She-Poet (8) Lucille Clifton, homage to my hips


LAST WEDNESDAY’S WRITING PROMPT June 14, 2017 What are you’re thoughts on soulmates? Tells us in prose or poem.

Thanks to Sonja Benskin Mesher and Paul Brookes who came out to play and to all who read a thank you too!


The To And Fro

to and fro the iron
over bedsheets, his shirts,
as she stands three hours

hot poker of pain
in the small of her back,
lists what else to do,

take down window nets,
wash and iron,
vax front room,
lug it upstairs for bedroom,
carpets,
hoover front room,
lug it upstairs for bedroom
carpets,
clean windows inside
to and fro,
to and fro
polish beneath knick knacks
bought on holiday,
to and fro
strip and remake beds,
make his tea,
always meat and two veg

He arrives home and says,
“What have you ever done for me?”

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Womwell Rainbow)

Fishman

She loves him
though he is water.

Her mam says “When I gift you
a fishes tail it will hurt
every time you use it
to and fro like a wave.

It’ll seem to him
a beckoning.

I’ll give you a tongue.
Every time you sing to him
you’ll drown a little more.

You’ll have each other,
but I’ll lose you.”

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Womwell Rainbow)


abridged .

she said they were soul mates, with a yorkshire accent.

both much the same. it lasted a while with ups & downs.

the usual.

then it ended.

this is the shorter version.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA)


© 2017, photograph, Jamie Dedes


Jamie’s THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

Celebrating American She-Poets (31): Tracy K. Smith, “Like a woman journeying for water …”

Tracy K. Smith (b. 1977), Pulitzer Prize winning poet and new U.S. Poet Laureate

“When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.”  Tracy K. Smith, Life on Mars


On Wednesday Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced the appointment of Tracy K. Smith as the Library’s 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2017-2018. Smith will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season in September with a reading of her work in the Coolidge Auditorium.

Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and a professor at Princeton University, succeeds Juan Felipe Herrera as Poet Laureate.

“It gives me great pleasure to appoint Tracy K. Smith, a poet of searching,” Hayden said.

“Her work travels the world and takes on its voices; brings history and memory to life; calls on the power of literature as well as science, religion and pop culture. With directness and deftness, she contends with the heavens or plumbs our inner depths—all to better understand what makes us most human.”

“I am profoundly honored,” Smith said. “As someone who has been sustained by poems and poets, I understand the powerful and necessary role poetry can play in sustaining a rich inner life and fostering a mindful, empathic and resourceful culture. I am eager to share the good news of poetry with readers and future readers across this marvelously diverse country.”

Smith joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Juan Felipe Herrera, Charles Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass and Rita Dove.

The new Poet Laureate is the author of three books of poetry, including Life on Mars (2011), winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; “Duende” (2007), winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award and the 2008 Essence Literary Award; and The Body’s Question (2003), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is also the author of a memoir, Ordinary Light (2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in nonfiction and selected as a notable book by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

For her poetry, Smith has received a Rona Jaffe Writers Award and a Whiting Award. In 2014, the Academy of American Poets awarded her with the Academy Fellowship, given to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. In 2016, she won the 16th annual Robert Creeley Award and was awarded Columbia University’s Medal for Excellence.

In the Pulitzer Prize citation for Life on Mars, judges lauded its “bold, skillful poems, taking readers into the universe and moving them to an authentic mix of joy and pain.” Toi Derricotte, poet and Academy of American Poets chancellor, said “the surfaces of a Tracy K. Smith poem are beautiful and serene, but underneath, there is always a sense of an unknown vastness. Her poems take the risk of inviting us to imagine, as the poet does, what it is to travel in another person’s shoes.”

Born in Falmouth, Massachusetts in 1972, and raised in Fairfield, California, Tracy K. Smith earned a B.A. in English and American literature and Afro-American studies from Harvard University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. From 1997 to 1999, she was a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University. Smith has taught at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, at the University of Pittsburgh and at Columbia University. She is currently the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities and director of the creative writing program at Princeton University.


Background of the Laureateship

The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1937, when Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library. Since then, many of the nation’s most eminent poets have served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 (Dec. 20, 1985), as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry—a position which the law states “is equivalent to that of Poet Laureate of the United States.”

During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. The Library keeps to a minimum the specific duties required of the Poet Laureate, who opens the literary season in the fall and closes it in the spring. In recent years, Laureates have initiated poetry projects that broaden the audiences for poetry.


The Great Hall of the U.S. Library of Congress. Public domain photo.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


This feature courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress; photo credit slowking4 under GNU Free Documentaton License 2.0