Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Garden of Verse: Verse-Virtual's Decembrist Poets Contemplate the Holidays and Other Eternal Verities

            We are all Paris, at least some of time.
            But what we really are in the hate-and-loathing days of the tediously prolonged pre-Presidential campaign season is fear.
            Your know what I mean. You know who we're supposed to be afraid of... Actually, there's quite a list, and I have no intention of adding to it by my indulging my own hysteria about gun nuts. (Whoops, what did I just say?)
            So perhaps that's why Joyce Brown's poem about different era in the December issue of Verse-Virtual got to me. Entitled "Fifties Christmas," the poem recalls a time when the mailman delivered three times a day and "snowmen wore woolly hats," and then turns a Christmas card greeting into a message that is still relevant, especially these days, in its formidable last line:
            "Fear Not."

            (Novelist Marilynne Robinson, who writes about theological questions and the people who live them, raised this very point in a recent essay in The New York Review of Books entitled "Fear." She write that "contemporary America is full of fear," and that fear is not an appropriate state of mind for those who call themselves Christians and celebrate Christmas. You can read her essay at

           Dick Allen's poem "A Winter Morning" takes on the enduring characteristics of a fiercely dreamlike winter landscape and finds in these images a correspondence to our thoughts: 
"And our headlong dreams spun into other dreams, or tiny breaks between the clouds. What we tried to mean is not what we became or could forsake."

         Robert Wexelblatt's "In December," connects the everyday wintry pictures to the big questions (and little ones) people ask this month, as both holidays and meteorological stresses roll in like the Polar Express:
"Once more the night will have worked its
lustration, as though every branch were fashioned
anew one second before dawn. Here’s your
world. We make no claim that it is other
than absurd, but here it is."

Karen Holmes' "How to Make Lemonade" provides these marvelously apt ingredients:
"Balance your glass on the window sill between past
and future, fill with sparrow song, gardenias,
stones from an icy stream."

Sonia Greenfield's "Cricket Chirping In a Scarecrow’s Belly" lets us into a world we'd otherwise never know. I have no trouble believing she's got it exactly right:
"Here’s the dickering: He’d empty his pockets for a train ticket
north, but the foal’s a pretty filly, his Dusty Rose. And the work
is never done. He re-stuffs the scarecrow when the horizon
halves the sun, after September’s heat combs the corn silk."

           You can find the rest of these poems, and many, many more in the December The full link is