Monday, October 24, 2016

Garden of Verse: Leaves Falling, Thoughts Opening, in October's Verse-Virtual

Poets in Verse-Virtual's October 2016 gave us many striking ways of looking at things -- big things, time and the river -- brought on perhaps by a nip in the autumn air.

Robin Dawn Hudechek's "I Was with You When You Slept (For Mary Magdalene)," dedicated to her mother, is written from the point of view of the woman who was not part of that famous Group of 12, and suffers slights from some of the male disciples simply because she is a woman.
Written in a naturally elevated and powerful language such as this memorable, moving image,
"I was with you when you closed your eyes,
when the troubles of the earth
lifted like wrinkles in the sand,"
the poem paints a portrait of someone who knows how to love and endures such slights because of her love.

Penny Harter's "Sister Death" offers an affecting, complex image as well. A mare, who follows her everywhere: "I feel her warm breath on my neck
and dream of bundled hay in a heated stall." What will happen if the poet forgets to toss the mare her lump of sugar?

Love and Death vie for attention in Myra Shapiro's "The Alteration of Love." The poem makes us see the 'alteration' of generations as well, when the lessons of her parents' lives (and deaths) cause the poet's eyes -- another arresting image - to 'haul up the sea.'

Jim Lewis's timely "In Praise of Autumn" compares lives to seasons. The poem's lyrical diction fits its thoughts, especially when the poet imagines a divine collection of -- not leaves, but -- lives:
"I will jump, exuberant
at the touch of his rake and broom
exactly as the autumn leaves
fly before my shepherding strokes"

Thoughts of divinity come from the sky and the mountains in the meteorological phenomenon called "altocumulus lenticularis, lens cloud," in Tricia Knoll's poem "The Flying Saucer." (See her marvelous accompanying photo above.) It causes a change in what the poet calls, in a fine phrase, "the felt unidentified."

All of these poems, these themes, feel autumnal to me. The turn of the season naturally brings thoughts of the seasons in our own human lives. A moment of acceptance, of letting in, is summoned in Tom Montag's "Grey Evening in Oshkosh." Images such as "the sorrow-speckled river" in the early-ending day encourage us to yield up what remains. 
In his poem "Like the River" the sadness remains, but the meaning broadens, offering us the example of a river that flows endlessly and is still before us.
And in a poem called "About Death" the poet finds a still a broader lesson in the stars, producing this amazing revision to received speech: "We think death is somewhere  
 we're going, not something we
already are."

            William Greenfield's poem "The Ever-Shrinking Universe" finds joy in the rituals of a smaller range of outward experience, taking us along to a Hallmark, a JC Penny's, until finally another insightful way of seeing is offered us: 
"So, we shrink
down, our world a snow globe." The poem ends with laughter.