Archive for July, 2014

As usual, the latest Nimrod is jam-packed with notable poems. Let’s start with the first poem in the mag, “Sequel,” by Joan Roberta Ryan, which has an argument for also being the best. “Dear Husband and King…” it starts. “Lately, your mother has been…eyeing / the kids rather strangely, / and knowing her ogreish / lineage…” I suppose this is the time to say the theme for this issue was reimagining faerie tales and such. Anyway, it’s a fun poem, dire warning ending and all. I admire the line breaks in this as well.

Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda has a clever folded poem (by which I mean she’s taken two poems and folded them together) called “Painting In An Enclosed Field At Saint-Paul Hospital.” A Van Gogh poem. “Like the painting of a peasant /Devout/ I long to haul wheat / we rise / in the fertile field.” Interesting things can happen with such poems, if done correctly. I like this one.

“She Gives Me The Watch Off Her Arm” is a sweet portrait by Marge Saiser of the relationship between mother and daughter at the moment the daughter is going off to college. “the closest she has ever been / is this / the dorm // her father had needed her / to dig the potatoes…” We see the daughter aware of how much this means to the mother.

“Burning House” is an insightful look by Diane Cadena Deulen into the midset of little boys, and how they are affected by a nearby house burning down. “Because the place was long abandoned, rumored / haunted…it was cause more for celebration / than alarm.” Great twist at the end as well.

The final poem I’ll mention is “Scheherazade,” by Patricia Hawley. “They were raised / as if feral by nuns, fed at the back door.” What a great beginning. This is about girls, however, not cats, and there is a stream of sadness running underneath. “Gen, / an artist, jumped from a tenement fire — her child stopped breathing / in her arms.” Very powerful.

Peace in poetry,

P M F Johnson

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Only a couple poems in the Jun 30 issue. First is “Father’s Day,” by Jeffrey Harrison. “My first father- / less Father’s Day came / a little too soon.” It’s a short meditation on being a father, on losing a father, and on the narrator’s place in the family, with a gentle sadness suffusing it. There’s a beautifully ironic ending, a poem very much worth hunting down. An excellent example of the generally high quality of The New Republic’s poetry.

The other poem I knew I was going to like as soon as I saw the name: “Baseball.” It’s by Lauren S. Cook, with whose work I have not been familiar. “Summon: a baseball field / and forty thousand bodies…” such a confident beginning. That bold tone continues: “the players hook into pose, / and alike we slant toward // the plate.” A great image, but with a subtlety worth noting: pose, not poses. They are all part of a unity in this moment, a single tableaux vivant. There’s even a reference to William Carlos Williams: “So much hinges / on the placement of a pitch…” So, a little amusing irony underneath there. Then the turn brings us up a level: “This is the day I marry a man…” after which the changes come one after another, like the pop pop of a pistol: “maybe…he says he doesn’t want the baby…” A deft, powerful work, with a trailing-off ending that feel just right. Brava!

Peace in poetry,

P M F Johnson

My eBook of poems, Against The Night, a sweet, rueful look at love in a long marriage, is available on Amazon, and at other fine e-retailers.

Related blog posts:

The New Yorker – July 23, 18

The New Yorker – July 2, 2018

Rattle 60 – Summer 2018

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