More honorable mentions from the new issue of Passager, Lenett Partlow-Myrick, Len Freeman, Bob Shapero and Jerome Gagnon.
This Sunday, November 13th, Passager’s hosting a Zoom reading featuring poets from the current issue reading their work. To attend the reading, go to passagerbooks.com, and you’ll find the link. Alma Roberts painted the stunning picture – Indigenous – on the cover of the issue. I’m holding it up to the mic so you can see it. On this edition of Burning Bright, just to get you in the mood, a few poems from the current issue.
Lenett Partlow-Myrick said she’s inspired by her elders, how they tell the same stories over and over, how their homes smell, how they touch everything so delicately and how they forget. She said her poem “Family Visits With an Elder” comes from that love of real and imagined people.
No one dares tell Uncle J
it’s 2022 and all his
Al Green albums
Cousin Babe and I argue over
what came first
the record player or the records
Uncle J or the house
it’s all old
old wood, old walls, old air
wisps of Auntie Lou’s
Fleur de Fleur parfume
flitter through Uncle J’s recall
those parties and cookouts we had
Babe and I remember
those hoarse and tender songs
they sang so sweetly out loud
Oooo baby let’s stay together
No one has the heart to ask Uncle J
why he keeps her framed picture
on the broken record player
in a corner where
he never dusts
Lenett Partlow-Myrick’s poem “Family Visits With an Elder.”
Here’s Len Freeman’s poem “A Hawk Has Come.”
a hawk has come to live
at our house
predator, fat baby,
killer of worms and voles
and smaller birds
he sits on our gazebo roof
still, silent, waiting
or perhaps for that mate
who swooped by one
feigning an interest
and locked him here.
“A Hawk Has Come,” Len Freeman. Len said a large red-tailed hawk perched on his highly visible, fairly low, gazebo for several days, and he wondered why it might do such an odd thing. He said, “The unconscious memory of two hawks “sky-dancing” amongst the tall white pines above our house a few days earlier took me to love.”
The inspiration for Bob Shapero’s poem “The Nature of the Body” came from looking not into his backyard but into his mirror, reflecting on the changes he’d noticed over the years, and trying to connect them with the change in one’s spirit over time.
Looking in the mirror, I notice the changes.
Lines have formed over once smooth terrain.
Ears, once bare and soft, now forested by hair
that seems to want to compete with the head
for coverage. Like an old potato sending out
sprouts from every eye, I too am expanding,
knobs, tags, and nodules from previously unblemished
places. Maybe the nature of the body is to divest itself
of centrality as it ages, moving outward, seeking
its surroundings, in the end, a dissolved core
with tentacles extended to all corners. I prefer
to think of it this way, the natural order of things,
merging, extending the center to the periphery,
relinquishing self to serve, a full body offering.
“The Nature of the Body,” Bob Shapero.
Finally, Jerome Gagnon’s post-Pandemic poem “Things are Opening Up Here, Again.”
Walking across the parking lot of our local mall
past a boarded up savings and loan,
I spotted dozens of fallen cones,
most of them about ten inches long,
at the base of an old pine tree.
The grounds hadn’t been tended in over a year
is my guess, and the cones were an unexpected sight,
nestled in a bed of dried needles,
waiting for their chance to split open
and be tossed here and there.
I read once that German coal miners
found three pine cones embedded in rock
dating from 120 thousand to 15 million years,
and when put in water, the scales of the cones opened
slowly, but they opened.
What I saw scattered at my feet
was the patience I’ve longed for, the thing
that will outlive us if we let it, past the pandemic,
the rising waters and all the rest,
and I think so often it comes down to this –
recognition of the possible
and the wisdom to leave things where they fall.
“Things Are Opening Up Here, Again” by Jerome Gagnon. He said his poem was inspired by a walk across a mall parking lot. He said he was both surprised and delighted to come upon something natural and gone to seed there, and he started working on the poem shortly after that.
Again, this Sunday, November 13th, Passager’s hosting a Zoom reading featuring poets from the current issue reading their work. To attend the reading, go to passagerbooks.com, and you’ll find the link. To subscribe to or learn more about Passager and its commitment to writers over 50, go to passagerbooks.com. You can download Burning Bright from Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts and various other podcast apps.
For Kendra, Mary, Christine, Rosanne and the rest of the Passager staff, I’m Jon Shorr.