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Posts Tagged ‘Gail Griffin Elizabeth I’


The first poet here is John James, who starts us off with a poem called “Le Moribond.” “In the catacombs I am impatient.” The very creepiness of such an image, standing in a catacombs among the dead, is enough to pull me along. “I study the bones before me, / observe fine cracks in the skulls.” The hint of violence? Of neglect? Such a weighty meditation on death. “Halt. Here is death’s empire.” I can’t say I liked a poem like that, but it did move me, and make me think. A fine poem.

David Bergman gives us, “The Man Who Heard Voices As A Child.” This scene is maybe more familiar to us, a child sneaking out from his bedroom to hear what the adults are saying in their party downstairs. “After his mother’s kiss came the click / of the door fitting snugly into place.” But he does sneak out and listen, though he can’t often hear words. “…what he loved was the rise and fall // of speech, the waves of language washing up / on the shore of his ears.” It’s interesting to think why we do the things we do. And how we are attracted to certain aspects of our lives, whether they have simple meanings or not. “the sound of their conversation; it was the music that music aspired to.” A sweet moment indeed.

And the third poet this issue is Gail Griffin, who gives us a series of poems about Queen Elizabeth I. Revealing tidbits I didn’t know about her life. “After Anne’s execution, Elizabeth was bastardized, removed from the line of succession.” The first work is a prose poem, almost more journalism. But with the subsequent poems, we see how this serves as a fitting introduction, and the rhythm of the poems takes over. Here she meets her remote, dangerous father. “Kat Ashley told me he must love me / for my hair that is like his.” We see instantly the trepidation this young girl must have felt, the danger of her situation. Will her father love her? Poignant and powerful, emphasized by that enjambment after ‘he must love me’. Then: “Look at me, girl, he said, and I / raised my eyes… he said. But damn me / if she does not have the black eyes / of the whore her mother.'” Wow. What a moment. Great poems.

Peace in Poetry,

P M F Johnson

My book of poems, Against The Night, a wry look at the love that builds throughout a marriage, is available on Amazon, and at other fine e-retailers.

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Iconoclast – #117

Rattle 62 – Winter 2018

Blue Collar Review – Summer 2018

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