…you can hear me read my recent work and chat with host Dr .Michael Anthony Ingram about the poems and my writing, here. Among the poems I read are some from Baltimore Girls (“Engineer,” “Salad Days” ) and several newer ones, some in progress and unpublished.
Friends and poetry aficianados all over the globe, please tune in to Blogtalk Radio: Quintessential Poetry, this Monday, September 10, 7 PM EDT, to hear Dr. Michael Anthony Ingram interview me. I’ll be reading some of my recent poetry, and taking questions from callers–hopefully some of you! Call in! Around 6:55 PM EDT this Monday (adjust for your part of the world: 10:55 PM Friday, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) go to: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/…/quintessential-listening-poe…
or call 646-787-1631 to hear –and if you are so inclined, to participate in–the show.
The mission of Quintessential Listening: Poetry is to provide a forum to examine current events and contemporary issues through the power of poetry.
Four years ago, Tree Guy came out to give us an estimate for gypsy moth spraying. As long as you’re here, I said, take a look at these apple trees and tell me what you think.
The two small trees were decades old. The summer cottage’s previous owners who planted them had passed on years ago, and a series of residents and renters neglected the property. …
Read the rest here, in today’s Baltimore Sun online.
I encourage you to take a look at Jackie’s poem, published on her website, Baltimore Black Woman.
Anyone who has cared for an aging parent until death will recognize the combination of grief and relief as the adult child reclaims her own life after the parent’s passing.
I commend to all of you reading my blog today, the Boston Globe editorial, “Journalists are Not the Enemy.”
I write today in solidarity with American journalists who’ve been under a mounting attack by President Donald Trump, in his campaign against all those media outlets–and their writers–who criticize any aspect of his speechifying, social media claims and comments, programs, positions, behavior, or philosophy.
I support the Boston Globe and 300 other newspapers and media outlets of every political stripe, that today, August 16, have joined together to push back against the President’s claim that journalism is nothing more than “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.”
Freedom of the press is enshrined in our foundational document, the U.S. Constitution.
That is a fact.
Freedom of the press extends to all media outlets, no matter the editorial affiliation with political party.
That is a fact.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Bill of Rights:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Explain to me how the sea
puts parentheses around the years
since my father held my waist.
We jumped the waves,
and he sang off key to me.
So much time has stacked up
but I walk along at low tide,
the water here dotted with bits of red seaweed,
feel only the water and the sand,
walk over shells of small crabs, or parts of their legs,
till the water laps up again and I see only
foam at the water’s edges.
Show me why the sea is so like
old words on the page,
why I can read and reread a poem
its meaning constant
text embedded deep in my neurons
though life whirls me
from single to married
childless to primagravida
to mother of two
to mother of two grown, off in the world.
Originally published in Poetry Pacific literary magazine
God sees me carry the stones from the seashore, smooth
gray rocks I cradle two at a time, pulling them close
to my belly, carrying them like the physical therapist said to.
If it’s against the law to carry these rocks home
to my garden, well then, I’m God’s thief.
God sees me snap off the forsythia branches, try
to speed up spring, make sunlight and water
push out small green leaves, butter-yellow blooms.
They brighten my Spartan workroom.
God sees me out among the weeds and the damp spring soil
when I should be writing.
God knows the faces of our friends are drawn tight
in those last days before their bodies give out, their souls
still burning hard and bright in our memories.
If only God weren’t so silent, so distant with us,
if only God would pull up a chair, act like
a parent imparting advice, say, When I was your age,
Rome wasn’t built in a day, keep your friends close—
I’ve gathered so many rocks now, each time wondering
when God will show God’s self, or give me a sign—
not a miracle exactly, but a perfect rose, then another,
a summer of roses, safe behind a wall of sea-smoothed rocks.
To purchase a copy of this, my most recent poetry collection, at a cost of $12.99 , postage included, email me at email@example.com
Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Mercy High School, Baltimore scholarship funds.
See the full article here.
This small village at the foot of the Connemara National Park was established by Quakers in 1949, the last year of the Great Hunger. James and Mary Ellis came here from England, as part of post-famine relief programs in Connemara. They Ellises set up workshops for the denizens of this area, hoping to give people skills by which to earn a decent living. At the main crossroads of the town sits the site of the benighted St. Joseph’s Industrial School, where the ghosts of children seem to hover around the cemetery. The young boys of Letterfrack are commemorated by the poems of the Poetry Trail, carved into wooden plaques affixed to the town’s buildings, to stands along the walk, and to trees. St. Joseph’s Industrial School, in operation from 1887-1974, was a site where hundreds if not thousands of Irish boys suffered harsh conditions, beaten and in some cases, sexually abused by the their teachers and wardens, the Irish Christian Brothers.
The building that warehoused these boys has been repurposed as a school for teenagers who have little interest in an academic secondary education, desiring instead to become skilled woodworkers. We wander through the National Centre of Excellence for Furniture Design and Wood Technology, on a quiet morning after the end of term. Finely hewn chairs, bookshelves, intricate coffee tables, side tables, chess boards and storage boxes sit ready for an exhibition and auction next week.
Nearby, atop a woods of trees with moss covered trunks, winding vines, and wild garlic, sits the small graveyard. Whether from disease–pneumonia, tuberculosis, whopping cough, diphtheria, rheumatic fever–or from malnourishment, or from severe beatings and exposure–the deaths of these young boys marked this ground. Exhaustive reports by the Irish national government relying on interviews, document analysis and forensic evidence, legal proceedings, the dismantling and closure of the old school, formal apologies issued by the Catholic Church and the Irish government under whose watch these things occurred–all these have been intended to achieve truth and reconciliation.
But it is the poets and artists who come closest to the truth about the suffering and loss of these children. Walking the Letterfrack Poetry Trail is more than a literary exercise–and reading the poems aloud in turn, as we did today, makes the past immediate. The heart-shaped grave markers atop old gravestones recite boys’ names, their birth and death date, their age on the day they passed from this life. Age 9, age 11, age 13. Born 1912, 1915, died 1922, 1925.
The poets record the tiniest, most poignant details: the boy who when they knew “there were in for it,” cried Mammy, Mammy, Mammy” in a low murmur like a prayer. The boy who carried a cardboard suitcase when he came up from Dublin after getting in trouble with the law, perhaps for stealing a bicycle. The dead child whose comrades mourned his broken back and his empty hands.
We walked the poetry trail, swatting away persistent Connemara midges and taking turns reading the poems aloud. The cloud cover gave way in the late afternoon to sun. We wandered into the tables outside the Park’s tearoom, where we sipped tea and talked about Irish poets who lately had died in old age. We talked about our host’s son, a mortgage broker Chicago, and about mackerel fishing in Clifden, nearby. We did not speak about the graves, or even of the poems on wooden plaques that dot the poetry trail. This was the fourth day in a row that the sun was shining brightly in Connemara, and we liked to think we’d brought the fine weather with us from Northern America.
As we neared St Joseph’s Church on our way back down the road, Joe pointed out one last poem—not part of the poetry trail collection per se, but nonetheless an important testimony: “Graveyard,” by the late Irish poet Richard Murphy, who died last January after a long and illustrious career. Murphy’s words, inscribed in white painted script on a black background, call to mind chalk on a school blackboard, what in other contexts would be a benign symbol of the classrooms in past days.
Murphy’s words are chilling, and they’ve stuck with me long after we have moved on from Letterfrack up the coast to Achill Island, then double back to Louisburgh, where the good sunny weather of the past ten days turns, and we hear the high wind and steady rain rattling the cottage windows. Safe and dry in our cottage, we watch the last of the peat fire burn into embers, and call it a night.
Letterfrack Industrial School
Bog-brown glens, mica schist rocks, waterfalls
Gulching down screes, a rain-logged mountain slope
With scrawny pine trees twisted by mad gales,
They see from my ball-yard, and abandon hope.
Wild boys my workshops chasten and subdue
Learn here the force of craft. Few can escape
My rack of metal, wood, thread, hide: my screw
Of brotherhood: the penny stitched in a strap.
Podded in varnished pews, stunted in beds
Of cruciform iron, they bruise with sad, hurt shame
Orphans with felons, bastards at loggerheads
With waifs, branded for life by a bad name.
One, almost hanged in my boot-room, has run free
Dressed as a girl, saved by a thieving gipsy.
The collection is available from me–at a slightly reduced cost of $11.99 plus first class postage. Profits from books purchased from me directly will go to scholarship funds at Mercy High School, Baltimore, my beloved alma mater.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Or, order from amazon.com barnesandnoble.com, or from the publisher, Finishing Line Press.
I’ll be reading from this collection and new poems as well, at the Wellfleet Public Library, June 18, 7 PM. The event is free and open to the public.