“Sugar Pumpkins”

Happy that my poem, “Sugar Pumpkins,” is included in the South Florida Poetry Journal’s new anthology, ” Voices From the Fierce Intangible. In great company–including Denise Duhamel, Lyn Lifshin, Julie Marie Wade,Andrew Glaze, Blaise Allen and so many more!

You can order a copy from SoFloPoJo here: https://www.southfloridapoetryjournal.com/—

Sugar Pumpkins

We grew them in raised beds, their vines profuse,

the orange fruit scant. Hard to grow Cucurbita pepo

In a drought season. Still, the six we found shading themselves

under their companion leaves made us think we might grow

enough to feed ourselves all autumn long. The orange globes

sat on the mantel for months, past Thanksgiving,

when we exiled them to the foyer to make room

for Christmas rosemary and holly branches.

Tonight, we choose the largest sugar pumpkin,

Carve a hole in the top, scrape out the seeds and strings.

In goes the mixture—rice, grapes, walnuts, onion, celery,

enough cumin to give it some heat.

When it’s baked to a turn, we slice it from the center,

So slender arcs of pumpkin fall into a circle, looking

more like a flower than a squash.  It tastes of pie

and of curry, redolent of the summer earth.

Models

Coreopsis

rudbekia

tradescantia

monarda
— unstoppable, reliable, upstanding citizens of the garden.
No rain? no problem.
They husband their power,
call a halt to blooming,
get into the business of making seeds.

They remind me of our late neighbor

a tall thin fellow in his ninth decade

who rummaged through trash cans

to pluck out a wearable shirt.

He wasted nothing.

~My poem, originally published in *82 Review, now part of the *82 Review Special Pocket Poems issue. Download it for free at http://star82review.com/2019-pocket/contents.html?fbclid=IwAR38aZTAtqHTCiG8ymrgdUbbMR-SGGL7NrGkraYFrsYjKPP8djTPLfaM77Q

“The end of an era – and a baseball card collection”

… My father-in-law left us two years ago, at age 97. My husband led his siblings in the division of the parental furniture and the disposition of his father’s ashes. He also began weeding our bookshelves and donating many long-unread volumes to the local library book sale.

And then he turned to his baseball card collection….

Read my full essay in today’s online Baltimore Sun.

Putnam Avenue in Spring

Happy to be in good poetic company in the Spring 2019 issue of Nixes Mates Review. My poem, “Putnam Avenue in Spring” appears here.

Excerpt:

Overnight, melting snow gave way to waves of daffodils
smothering the hill near the Protestant church.
But churches hung in our peripheral vision,
an annoyance, a reminder of what we rejected.
The public library was our church, the holy source where…

“Charlie on the MTA”…updated?

You may remember this old ditty, popularized by the Kingston Trio back in  1959 and based on a Boston mayoral  campaign song from even earlier, 1949.

The trolleys and buses of Boston are now called the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), and I’m delighted that next month, which is National Poetry Month, my poem will be among other works by Massachusetts poets displayed on placards on MBTA cars.  Here’s a sneak preview:

 

actor_poem2

If you happen to be riding the MBTA next month, remember your Charlie card, and snap a photo of my poem and I’ll post it here.

Did he ever return?
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn’d
He may ride forever
‘neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man who never returned.

 

 

 

The Good Father

This poem was the first one I wrote for Sam Cornish’s poetry workshop at the Boston Public Library several years ago. The following fall, Sam called me up to the front of the room after class had ended  and told me he had submitted “The Good Father” to a juried contest and that it had been chosen for a month-long exhibit at Boston City Hall.

This is the kind of teacher Sam was–generous, encouraging, and always pushing his students to publish and share their work. The poem was later accepted for publication in Grey Sparrow Journal in 2015.

The Good Father

The good father fell asleep on Saturdays
stretched out long on the couch.
Or he hoisted me onto his shoulders
or carried me into the ocean,
keeping a firm grip on me

The good father took me to church
let me play with my white prayer book
with the gold cross hidden in a place inside the cover.

He pointed to the altar in front
when the three bells rang
and the priest held the white circle bread high.

The good father slept in the big bed
on the white sheets with dark blue lines at the edges.
He lay next to my mother, slender, dark-eyed, pale.
Laughter came from their room at night,
and whispers that lulled me to sleep.

He drove us to Florida in the car with three pedals on the floor.
I tried to stand up in the back all the way to Virginia.
Dirty water came out of the hotel’s faucet in Charleston.
We heard the train whistle all night.

He brought me a Charlie McCarthy doll
so I could talk to everyone and not be so shy.
He smelled of aftershave and orange bath soap.
I traced the scar on his forehead with my small hand.

And later, the sad father came to be in our house.
He wore a heavy brace on his leg.
A black steel bar ran up the side of the boot.
He walked with a wooden cane.
Bottles of pills filled the medicine chest.

He was early to bed.
We had to be quiet then.

 

A Tribute to Baltimore-born poet, the late Sam Cornish

Sam Cornish (1935-2018), Poet Laureate of Boston from 2008-2015, was born and raised in Baltimore, but spent most of his later life in Boston.   Through his teaching at Emerson College, his poetry workshops at the Boston Public Library and other venues, and his ability to be seemingly everywhere where poetry of the people was shared and heard and spoken, Sam was a force of poetry. He encouraged novice writers and journeymenandwomen alike to write and to speak their truth through poetry.

Last Sunday, many of his former colleagues, students and poetry mentees gathered  at New England Mobile Book Fair.  Sam had spent much of his time at the bookstore’s old location helping generations of patrons locate just the books they were on a quest for–often in the vast remainder book section of that book  warehouse of yore.  Six months after his death, we  celebrated his life and work, and the profound influence he had on all of us.

Enormous gratitude to Somerville poet and editor Doug Holder for publishing my poem on  his blog and next week, in the print edition of The Somerville News, whose tagline is “Somerville’s Most Widely read Newspaper!”

You can read my Sam Cornish tribute poem here.

Sam C