Sunday, January 3, 2016

Poetry's Garden Blooms Anew: Guns, Mammograms and a Million True and Timeless Things

I have a political poem on the gun violence issue in the current edition of Verse-Virtual (January 2016, I'm practicing writing this date). There's a notion spread widely by gun advocates that "a good guy with a gun" is the best answer to the epidemic of domestic shooting massacres that our politically benighted country has fallen victim to in recent years. The notion that armed citizens will effectively intervene and "take out" would be-killers, thereby saving lives, has spread on social media (where else?). The lesson: Be armed and ready whenever you're out in public. Some 'stories' supporting this legend are bespoken by believers. When investigated by neutral sources these fables turn out to be exaggerations, elaborations, or mere fabrications. Real life is not a computer game. Real life is not an action-hero vehicle.
            In pursuing the theme of "newness" in the January issue of VV, that traditional month for 'new' starts and fresh perspectives, I took an approach entirely new for me in confronting this legend of the well-armed vigilante stepping between the 'bad guys' and their victims... and wrote a Country & Western pop song lyric titled From the Mythical Annals of 'Good Guy with a Gun.'
            Here's the beginning:

I will stand my ground
You can't push me around
If I meet a nutjob gunning for my crew
I am ready to do what I must do
Bang, Mr. Nutty, that's the end of you...

            I'm kind of hoping that some members of the gun-rights crowd may miss the irony here and  spread this lyric around where it may be seen by eyes that will not miss the irony.
            My two other poems in this issue deal with other aspects of "newness."
            A poem titled "Always a First Time" treats what happens when a man goes to the X-ray department for a mammogram. (Folks, they they tell me it's not a first time for them.)   
            My third poem, this month's formal venture, addresses a new state of affairs in global politics in which an enemy striking terror in everyone's hearts (ISIS) is being confronted primarily by a people without a country, the Syrian Kurds. 

            Altogether, January's Verse-Virtual features work by 77 poets. Among the many, many topics of mind and matter nimbly and insightfully addressed are these reflections on subjects both new and old:
            The power of memory in poet Herb Guggenheim's tender sonnet about an early meeting, “What I Remember.”
            The memory of place in Karen Paul Holmes's “Seagull Morning, Lake Chatuge,” inviting us to join the birds in "their ancestral reel through crisp Appalachian air."
            The persistence of remembered loss and pain in Sydney Lea's "Fathomless."
            The shelf-life of "Newness" itself is addressed by Robert Wexelblatt's rhymed lyric, a poem that asks when a year is no longer new and answers, "Oh, months and months before its end."
            The truth that love is not in a hurry in Tom Montag's "Woman with her Sister at the Clinic," as the poet observes the woman unloading "the wheelchair from the trunk of the car."
            A world still whole (or more whole?) even in the absence of human presence in Penny Harter’s "Mid-January Dream of the World Without Us." 
            A deep, perhaps eternal contest between love and fear in Laurie Kolp's "Outside the Holy Fortress."
            These poems and many other weighings of time and place, here today and gone tomorrow, can be found at It's not only a new year at Verse-Virtual, it's a new month.