Tuesday, October 15, 2013

You Can't Shut Down Poetry!

So on Day 14 of working for no pay, I could go on another tirade about the three-ring circus in Washington, but I won’t – I got most of it off my chest last time.  All I will say is that you know your government has gone off the rails when the liberal commentators on MSNBC wax nostalgic for the days of Ronald Reagan.

On to poetry: I have been largely unproductive lately, but I did participate in a fun annual event – The Collingswood Book Festival.  Held in early October, this well-attended, daylong street fair in Collingswood, NJ celebrates the printed and spoken word.  There are nationally and regionally well-known authors as well as local and self-published ones, small press publishers and journals, new and used booksellers, and a poetry tent with events throughout the day, as well as a variety of activities for kids including live music.  I was involved with the poetry events (of course), co-hosting a haiku workshop with my poet friend BJ Swartz, and co-hosting an open mic with another friend, Dave Worrell. My friends Anna Evans (who also judged a children’s poetry contest for the festival) and BJ Ward were also featured readers there – both were excellent, as usual. Also featured was Msgr. Michael Doyle, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Camden.  He is a former anti-war activist and a well-respected and loved man in the area, with an Irish brogue you can cut with a knife.  You could hear a pin drop as he read his often moving and lyrical poetry.  There were other featured poets too, like spoken-word favorite Lamont Dixon.  Though the weather was a little too warm for early October, it was a near-perfect day under the poetry tent.  Thanks to Tammy Paolino, Walt Howat, and all the organizers for another fine festival.

The other event I will be attending is the Poets Forum in New York City later this month.  It’s an annual three-day symposium sponsored by the Academy of America Poets, with an A-list lineup of poets, including one of my favorites, Jane Hirshfield.  The all-events pass was a birthday present courtesy of my two sons who live in NYC. Also, the day before the Poets Forum (Wed. October 23) I have a featured reading with the South Jersey Poets at Dante Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.

As I said, however, my creative output has been minimal lately.  I guess it’s just a phase, and I’m trying to work through it by being more active with poetry events and trying to get back into submitting.  I did recently submit to an online haiku journal called Tiny Words, and I’m still waiting for the results of the narrative poetry contest from Naugutuck River Review.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot!  I was recently nominated for a Best of the Net award by Chantarelle’s Notebook for my poem, “Mercurochrome Summer”.  Thanks to the editors, Kendall and Christinia Bell, for your continuing support of my work.

Poem of the Blog: Since I’m not coming up with much new stuff lately, I thought I’d start posting some “greatest hits” – poems that have had some significance in my current writing career.  Some may have appeared on my prior blogs, so please pardon any repetition. The logical place to start would be the poem for which this whole blog is named.  It was also my first journal publication in this iteration of my poetic life, appearing in the online journal Stirring: A Literary Collection in April 2000. It also became a bit of a “signature piece” and an audience favorite at readings.

How to Peel an Orange

Hold it loosely, like a yellow baseball.
Rub the leathery hide.

Punch a fingernail through the nippled top.
Push through to the hollow below.

Rip, pull out and down gently.
Watch the spray of oil in the air.
Inhale the pungent citrus.

Disregard the orange-white meat beneath your nails.
Disrobe this fruit completely.

Pick off the gangly strings of useless pulp.
Regard the naked segments, and with both thumbs,
separate the hemispheres.

Tear through the meridian.
See the droplets weep through the membranes.

Strip the translucent skin.
Reveal the clustered buds of juice like teardrops.

Peel off one tender crescent.
Bring it to your lover’s lips, so as to
suck it, nibble it, bite it

bursting the tiny juice pockets,
licking your fingertips.


1 comment:

Nancy said...

We all need to turn on our poetry modes, don't we? It's good to hear from you here. I keep trying to think how we could get some of our virtual poetry friends together for an event. I'd love to host in NC. I'd also love an excuse to go somewhere for some poetry. I'm ready to read some more of your writing.