I loved Gary Boelhower’s poem, “How The Light,” in the current issue. It’s a paean to his aging parent, set in a series of statements each beginning with, “How…” “How you didn’t want anyone…to see you in the hospital bed.” “How the light streamed in…onto your hunched shoulders.” Maybe it affects me so much since I just went through a similar experience with my own father. “How to say goodbye, how to touch the losses.” Such a delicate poem.
Right after that poem comes a sonnet by George Held, “How Might I Say.” Which again begins with “How,” and so dovetails nicely with the previous poem. “…with Shakespeare’s subtlety / That I have ‘gored’ another one or three.” This poem’s theme is infidelity, however, and the struggle to return to spirituality. “but peccadilloes / Now are in my past.” A skilled and amusing poem.
And the very next poem is “All I Do Is Get High on Melodrama,” by Kiara Letcher,” which begins, amusingly enough: “I am satisfied being a toothache.” The narrator fixated on a lover, evidently. “I thought being sugar / crystallizing / through your blood / would be enough.” A reference to crystal meth, sometimes referred to as sugar? The desperation increases, the images grow wilder, and she ends with a fun couplet. Well done.
I much enjoyed “The Dart,” by Elise Hempel. “Each time I mow I look for it..” Who among us does not have such rag-tag memories from long ago, irrationally tugging at our thoughts? “I know // some day in my back-and-forth I’ll find / it spearing a branch.” A sweet poem, finally, and masterfully rhymed.
Sometimes I just need a full-bodied poem, one not afraid to be poetic in the old sense. Such is “One Tempestuous Spring Day,” by Bonnie J. Manion. “west winds churn towering / glowering rain clouds in…” The language is throwback, the adjectives thick on the ground. But for all that, the poet gives us something richly satisfying: “a high-pitched / throbbing trill, and you notice / buds swelling.” There’s a sensuality here that matches the joy of spring, but it’s not overstated. And the ending seems to me just right.
Finally, I’ll mention one last sonnet, Thomas Zimmerman’s “Pioneer Woods Quartet.” Again the rhyme scheme is subtle, not calling attention to itself. “I’m walking in the woods, with smells of smoke / and sweet decay.” A great start to a poem about remembering parents, “they were sweet / sometimes…” while adding details of the landscape in with a sense of loss and mortality. “crows in the branches eye me, living meat…” There’s also a braid of musical images woven in. A most satisfying poem.
Peace in poetry,
P M F Johnson
P.S. My eBook of love poems, Against The Night, is available widely.