Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Garden of Verse: Every Month New Blossoms

            Everything is completely different and yet somehow the same in Verse-Virtual. Like the weather: Every month a new shower of words. This year's mild winter leaves plenty of headroom for strong poems.

          Joan Colby provides a handful with a week of "good ideas." In a poem titled "ON THE THIRD DAY OF GOOD IDEAS" we learn about trees: 

"Consider the trees. How they gift/
The world with the oxygen of being." 

          Speaking as someone who considers trees a very good idea, I love the way this poem marshals its evidence without waste or sentimentality: an economy of apt phrases. What can be more important than "the oxygen of being"?              
          Another good idea, "Delight," hits the nail on the head: "Delight is spontaneous." 
          The poem fills us with happy recognitions: "On the morning of delight" -- yes, we think, delight comes in the morning and demands (as the poem tells us) a tango where "a pause/ Can fill the heart with sequins." 
           Books are also a good idea, even the last of these: 

"The book of farewells signed
By all the people come to witness."

          Barbara Crooker's tightly crafted poem "Surface" is an object lesson in turning an anecdote into poetry. All the imagery hangs together, so a poem on the meaning of surfaces, and our need to clothe them, becomes itself a wardrobe, an outfit: 

"I can’t remember her name, just how straight her hair was,/
how it hung down her back like a bolt of cloth. /
In the untidy closet of my heart, I think about what we put on..."

          A short month has neither world nor time to wander off before getting to the point. Firestone Feinberg's three wise poems amount to a kind of critical aesthetic: 

"Experience itself cannot be told, but/
it can be hinted at in some incarnations of art," 

he writes in "A Poem Perhaps." The lines illustrate their meaning: 
"This is one./ Consider it./ Be fair."
          Robert Wexelblatt's "Diva" uses another strategy of concision to hit the 'nail' on the head. Displeased by a newspaper review of her latest concert that singled out her performing while praising the entire troupe, the diva tears the offending page apart: 

She rends the newsprint with a long, red nail:
“My triumph’s hollow—unless others fail.”

With its zinger of a final couplet the poem resembles a satire by Alexander Pope, both apropos and inevitably a little comic. You can also read Diva-country as the opposite of the community carved out by Verse-Virtual. Triumphs everywhere, and a cultivated regard for the beauty found in the achievements of others.

            Sonia Greenfield offers a simply excellent gathering of poems under the heading of "Science Poems." The poems are filled with a brainy and beautiful metaphysics such as the notion weighed in "The Science of Poetry the Poetry of Science": 

Quantum theory posits parallel worlds
we sometimes press against
where we make different choices
and interact with our mirror selves, 

          I admit I'm prejudiced since I've been seduced by this speculation before. Is it a premise for a postmodern novel, or mere sci-fi, or an ethical injunction since our "mirror selves" may pop up anywhere, but in a guise we don't recognize? Greenfield's poem carries its thesis through a series of alert, wittily expressed transformation. We end up paying quick visits both to the now-proverbial two roads diverging in a wood and to "miles to go before we sleep." This is a poem that gives us both the road less traveled and, as she says, "the road well worn." A poem that illustrates its thesis by taking both choices.  
          In her poem "Fukushima Daisies," the notion of singularity, of variations in nature and humanity is celebrated. The accompanying photo of the post-nuclear daisy is indescribably apt. I would say the meaning of  this flower is indescribable too, but Greeinfield does it: 

... those radio-
active flowers, clustered
into misfit bouquets."

            These and many other fine poems are available at Click on 'current poetry.' Than click on a poet's name.