Yesterday was a dreary day. I had a headache for most of the day. The Cleveland Indians did not advance to the World Series. Josh Beckett's tight curveball jumped over the Cleveland bats as if they were under some sort of ball-repelling spell. I missed most of the game because I went out to a poetry reading at Monkey See, Monkey Read to celebrate the publication of the Northfield Women Poets' new collection, Penchant. NWP was started in the late 1960s by Riki Kölbl Nelson and Karen Herseth Wee, and both of them were there to read last night, along with Beverly Voldseth, Andrea Een, Karen Sandberg, Susan Thurston Hamerski, and Marie Vogl Gery. Their beautiful book is available at Monkey See for $15.98 (tax included). The audience for the reading was mostly women, with a small handful of men—including Jerry Bilek, who hosted the event, and Scott King, who designed the book and wrote the foreword. I felt we were more united by poetry than we were divided by gender.
I enjoy poetry readings because I always leave them feeling inspired to return to my own poetry. Sometimes I need to hear the words of others to prime my own creative pump. After the reading, Scott and I figured we both average about three new poems a year. But after last night's reading, I was able to sit down and write. This poem is in memory of David Kjerland, who died on Monday. I didn't know him well. We occasionally stopped on the sidewalk along Fifth Street to talk, almost always about writing. But I never knew he had written about his work as a literacy volunteer in Alabama in 1965. I knew he was an artist who created beautiful works of art in stained glass. I knew he was a devoted father. I knew he loved poetry. I feel a deep sense of loss because I have lost the chance to know him better.
The world going golden under a leaded sky—
the dark leading of the branches, the leaves
like panes of colored glass shattering from the trees.
Soon neighbors will draw indoors,
the light of windows banked against the cold.
We will pass less often on the street, then not at all.
The last words will fall from our mouths.
We will start to forget.
What remains will be fragile and luminous.
The world will be glazed with ice, the trees will reach up
with bare arms, like children wanting to be held.
My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .
The frontispiece from Countee Cullen's The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929). Illustration by Charles Cullen. Click to enlarge. On...
Here's the poem I wrote and read for the student-organized International Day of Peace gathering in Bridge Square on Wednesday, Septembe...
In early August, the director of the Northfield Public Library, Teresa Jensen, asked me to write a poem to be displayed prominently in the...