Posts Tagged ‘Rage Hezekiah’

This is a double issue of Cape Rock, which means a lot of poetry indeed.  J.F. Connolly begins the issue with “Alzheimer’s,” a list poem of metaphors about the disease: “the bump in the night, / the false start of memory’s dream.” A moving, sad poem.

John Grey gives us “The Lone Shopper.” “It is a sure ploy / in separating a lonely man / out from the others.” The tone and swing of this poem are fun, and sting a little (because of the accuracy of observation?). “He bypasses the fresh meats / and vegetables, / for stuff in cans.” He compares the man against other shoppers, but admits, “I’m only clued in on the man…” As with many deeper poems, he turns the poem at the end… or seems to, then instantly turns it again, a clever device. Worth a smile.

Bruce McRae also gives us an upbeat poem, “Toying With A Dime,” with a catchy beginning. “I’m at the corners of Awe St. and Dread… sitting in a bar, counting God’s change.” Then come a series of original lines, flashing past the screen almost to fast to catch. “Space expands, like a mind… Time stutters and stalls.” And at the end, the narrator picks up the coin he’s been playing with and goes. A captivating poem.

I like Charlene Langfur’s “My Leaping Dog.” A narrative poem about the narrator walking her dog, a poem of connection. “This is how I feel about happiness…The incipience of morning,” it starts, and the dog is right there. “lower to the ground than I am…with the agility of a superhero.” A pleasing, deft tone, that leads to some surprising insights. “The surprise of how / we can be something else in the midst of who / we know we are.” That line bears meditating upon, for me. It’s nice to see such reflection in a poem, an aim of something higher than just clever language.

There are many good story poems in this issue, well worth discovering. But a lyrical poem I very much liked was by Kelli Simpson. “Dandelions.” “If the dandelions don’t lie, it’s going to be a dry summer.” Just the whole sense of a conversation with flowers makes me want to read on, and the poem proves worth the attention. “We all drink the red dirt…” A very nice poem.

Too many good poems to mention them all, but I liked “Winter Map,” by Madison Cyr, “Mirabella Pool,” by Rage Hezekiah, “Today I Decide Not To Read About The Vanishing Snow Leopards,” by Ron McFarland, “Sur La Plage,” a clever sonnet by Stephen Thomas Roberts, and “Torbat,” by Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad (“I dropped the h, / the long sigh in my first name”).

A couple of strong political poems show up, “A Dangerous Business,” by Pesach Rotem, concerning a poet in Saudi Arabia condemned to death for writing poetry: “remember that it’s your head he’s talking about / And that he means it literally.” And “He Plans His Funeral,” by Joan Colby. “The gang slogans that will be inscribed…the hand signals displayed…with an emotion that is partly / Theatrical.” Powerful.

The last poem I will mention is by David Brendan Hopes. “In The August Garden.” It starts, “You arise — you don’t know why — past midnight…the August garden…finalizes and takes stock.” I love the sentience of the garden in this poem, the partnership between garden and gardener. “I have put on white and violet / for the sake of love.” Then come references to the ancient troubadours, Villon and all, “confusing God with their lady loves in that charming way.” There’s just a lot going on in this poem, and very entertaining.

Peace in Poetry,

P M F Johnson

My eBook of love poems, Against The Night, is available on Amazon,  as well as at other fine e-retailers.

Related Blogs:

The New Yorker – Oct 30, 17

The Apple Valley Review – Fall 2017

Rattle Magazine – Fall 17




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I really like the poem, “Full Belly Farm,” by Rage Hezekiah, in the Spring issue of Plainsongs. “Bouncing / over farm terrain towards the field, / all of us wield freshly sharpened knives.” A poem about a woman doing what she must to fit in with male coworkers, picking cabbages. It isn’t easy. “The men… hunch / behind each other, faking penetration…” There is suspense in this poem, and sadness, but ultimately triumph as well, the narrator proving herself in a tough world. It stirred my heart.

I also enjoyed William Jolliff’s “To Ask For Less.” “By grace in time we learn to ask for less.” There is a tremendous wisdom for me in just that first line. He goes on to list what might be asked for: “”A little ham, maybe, greasy and sweet.” It is a poem of humility, touching. And powerful when it turns more personal. “my son running his scales, / the repetition of arpeggios.” A poem of gratitude, finally.

“Joyriding To Nightfall,” by Joan Colby, is a subtle, complex poem. “A house on a hill awaits the faithful, / that’s us, redhanded and sorrowful…” The poem piles on a slew of images, on its way. “The storm skirting the horizon to sweep / the harvest into baskets of wind.” is my favorite, I think. It comes to no easy conclusion as it contemplates many images of faith, from many cultures. Worth reading.

“To the Horizon,” by Mark Christhilf, caught my attention. “When I get to where you are / I will have learned / to call myself from myself…” A poem that almost seems like a young idealist, sure of himself, and how he will grow in wisdom. And yet, and yet there is that faint hint that the author knows more than the narrator; there is a whiff of irony and sadness underneath. Beautifully done.

Finally, let me mention “Carried on the Wind,” by Leo Dangel. “In the time before the electric lines…a windmill with an electric propeller blade / stood close beside the house…” A poem of nostalgia, yes, but more of comparing the power of memory against the fainter truth of mere documentation. The narrator remembers hearing on the radio the boxing match “between Joe Louis and Jersey Joe Walcott.” It is the world surrounding the memory that gives it heft, the narrator’s church, his sister Rose, the way the announcer fades in and out, a heft beyond what the dry video on YouTube can deliver. A very good poem.

Peace in poetry,

P M F Johnson

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