Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Garden of Verse: Celebrating the Freedom to Create in This Month's Verse-Virtual

The new month's issue (May 2017) of Verse-Virtual proclaims the freedom of the imagination. An umbrella becomes the Eiffel Tower, a map flies out of a car like an origami bird, angels make emergency calls, a memory turns a man into a shadow.
             In Sylvia Cavanaugh's dancing-in-the-rain recreation of childhood's imagination, "There Was This Original Me," that early version of "me" discovers the charms of the umbrella:

A thin silver stem
rose from the hooked handle
to unfold into a complicated
metal frame, delicate

and elegant as an Eiffel Tower
I could hold in one hand.

         In Catherine Wolf's "Ode to All Birds," the poet performs an emergency wildlife rescue in cruel weather --"You know black capped chickadees are hours away from death in icy blizzards" -- dashing outdoors to fill a bird feeder, and her poem turns the birds "into refugees at sea." The poem then catalogues eight different birds swarming the feeding station (I wish I could be that certain of what I'm seeing at our feeder), and ultimately extends the comparison, pointing out the diversity of winged creatures "all eating from the same table."

       In Donna Hilbert's poem "Angels," we learn that angels are people too. They lounge about until needed, "watching the world like mid-season TV," but leap into action when emergency calls:

Occasionally one is requested

to stop a train in its tracks,
pull a child from a river,
or lie down with a hiker
lost days in the snow—
the angel equivalent
of a triple A call.
It’s the rare angel who’s asked
to stop a war.

Rescue accomplished, the hero then returns to the clubhouse "insufferable with accomplishment" to proclaim "over bingo,
'You should have been there, seen/ the way I put my shoulder to the train.'"

          All I can add is we so want that rare angel on our side. 

          Joan Colby deploys her imagination with painful accuracy in "Podiatry." After the doctor removes a disablingly damaged toenail, we are asked to picture this brilliant, if painful, image:  

Your toe, page of erasure,
A fat white grub. Underneath
It’s all gore like the untold stories
Of the podiatrist’s mother and father. 

          It turns out the podiatrist's tale is tougher than the poet's description of her surgery. His parents, the poem tells us, were

Holocaust survivors. The day they walked
Out of the abandoned barracks.
Living skeletons, their feet
Wrapped in rags,
what a day that was!

          The imagination of size impresses us in  Michael Minassian's poem "A Family of Giants." The poet is treated by an older relative to"an Armenian/ folktale about a family/ of giants who lived in caves..." The point of this story? Jack, the older relative, answers with a question:

What do we call the world?”
he asks, “When the giants
no longer reveal themselves?”

"Diminished," we think, providing an answer of our own. The comparison is implicit when the Armenian immigrant Jack speaks of shaving his mustache and trimming his eyebrows to fit in to America, but is unable to hide his accent. But perhaps the 'giants' do reveal themselves, in time, when Jack and the poet head for home. Read the poem's last lines containing the words "long shadows" and decide for yourself.  

         Final credit for the subject of Ryan Warren's poem "By the Wind Sailors" belongs to nature. But the poet gets a strong assist here. The poem's strong rhythms, short lines and exotically Latinate scientific terms produce an incantation. Or a praise song.

We have named you

Velella velella.

We have named you


We have named you





Velella. We have named

your blue jellied bodies

your sea-worthy sails,

rigged on ridged backs.
There's a lot more to this poem worthy of reflection, including its depiction of how plants communicate (a subject, personally, I can't get enough of). The act of imagination lives in the science, the natural fact, the thing in itself and transcends it as well. 
          The poem entire, and lots more magic, can be found in this month's Verse-Virtual: