Thursday, July 31, 2014

Poem of the Day: "The Farm on the Great Plains" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 31, 2014 is "The Farm on the Great Plains" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been examined previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "The Farm on the Great Plains" as well as an audio recording of it read by the poet may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/16742.

"The Farm on the Great Plains" is another example of one of Stafford's contemporary ballads, similar in structure to the many that have been examined this month.  The poet uses the telephone as a kind of time machine to contact the past--perhaps his own past, perhaps the country's past.  In the end, the poet, waxing Wordsworthian, must become one with the farmland of that lost era.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Poem of the Day: "An Oregon Message" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 30, 2014 is "An Oregon Message" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been examined previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "An Oregon Message" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171503.

"An Oregon Message" is arranged in four stanzas of free verse; the first, of eight lines, and the second, of six, combine to form a kind of modern Italian sonnet.  There is a bit of end-line consonance but not nearly as much as is seen in one of Stafford's signature ballads.  The message of the this part of the poem, eerily relevant today, is that people who choose to live off the grid or to keep to themselves are treated with suspicion, particularly by the state.

The last two stanzas make a snarky, poetic joke--the government may have sent astronauts to the moon, but still has not discovered the citizens who value their privacy.  The two-word final stanza instructs these private citizens to burn the message--just as government spies would do.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Poem of the Day: "In the Deep Channel" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 29, 2014 is "In the Deep Channel" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been examined previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "In the Deep Channel" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171504.

"In the Deep Channel"is another example of Stafford's modern take on the ballad form--we have seen many examples this month.  This one is particularly full of rich assonance, consonance, rhyme, and near rhyme, and has a lyrical, flowing rhythm like a deep river.  The conceit of the rhythm of the catfish as representative of the rhythm of the river make the poem flow even more.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Poem of the Day: "Walking West" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 28, 2014 is "Walking West" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been examined previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "Walking West" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171505.

"Walking West" is a contemporary ballad, having the quatrains and tetrameter of the traditional form.  In place of the traditional rhyme scheme, the poem is filled with rich alliteration and consonance.  The conceit of walking in the footsteps of God is powerful, as are the beautiful metaphor of the wind as a river, and the image and delightful consonance of the "hawk on a stick."

Poem of the Day: "One Home" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 27, 2014 is "One Home" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been examined previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "One Home," along with an audio recording of it by the poet, may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171502.

"One Home" is presented in five tercets; the odd lines of the second and third end with rhymes; every line of the first tercet ends in consonance; the fourth tercet contains a refrain, with the odd lines ending in consonance; and the final tercet uses neither end rhyme nor end consonance.

The final stanza is the most interesting as it is the least straightforward.  In the first line, the sun is compared to a blade.  A blade can be seen as a tool or a weapon.  So, the simile may mean that the right amount of sun is helpful, but too much or not enough causes harm.  "Blade" also evokes an image of grass and may reference the "buffalo grass" of the second stanza.  The second line evokes a sense of freedom, excitement, and danger--all clichĂ© characteristics of the Midwest.  The final line of the poem evokes a sense of the land's reliability and support--a sense of "one home."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Poem of the Day: "Bi-Focal" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 26, 2014 is "Bi-Focal" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been examined previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "Bi-Focal" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171501.

"Bi-Focal" is a modern take on the ballad form.  As with most ballads, it is presented as a series of quatrains.  Each line has three metric feet.  In lieu of the traditional balladic rhyme scheme, the even lines of each quatrain end in rhyme, assonance, or consonance; the odd lines do not.  It is also interesting to note that the poem ends with "the way it is," the title of the collection in which the poem was published.

The poet explains that there are two aspects to observable objects.  We perceive an object in one way.  "The way it is," however, may be an entirely different thing.  We see the surface, what the poet, interestingly, calls "love."  However, "the way it is" is something deep beneath the surface, what the poets calls "legend."  A legend contains an element of truth.  The poet reveals that what we perceive as truth contains in reality only an element of legend.


Poem of the Day: "Monuments for a Friendly Girl at a Tenth Grade Party" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 25, 2014 is "Monuments for a Friendly Girl at a Tenth Grade Party" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been examined previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "Monuments for a Friendly Girl at a Tenth Grade Party" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/19717.

"Monuments for a Friendly Girl at a Tenth Grade Party" is an elegy to Ruth, most likely a childhood friend of the poet.  The first stanza tells how the speaker and Ruth met.  The second pays tribute to the selfless way that Ruth chose to spend her life.  The third and final stanza states that Ruth will be remembered by the forces of nature that she loved and by the poet, the poem, and the readers of the poem.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Poem by the Editor: "A Symmetry"

"A Symmetry" was inspired by a passage in The Book of Tea where Kakuzo Okakura explains one of the major differences between eastern and western aesthetics.  In western art, symmetry and repetition are important features; the exact opposite is true in eastern art.  The deliberate asymmetry found in eastern art invites the viewer to complete the picture and in this way bond with the artist.  Harmony and balance result.

New Poem by the Editor: "Moon Walk"

This poem was inspired by how white sand beaches are formed.  It has been determined that a certain type of coral-eating fish excretes the "sand."  That led me to thick about the tides and the sounds of the sea which led me to compose this alliterative, semi-rhyming poem.
The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 24, 2014 is "Traveling through the Dark" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been examined previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "Traveling through the Dark" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171495.

"Traveling though the Dark" has no discernible larger metaphor or conceit.  It is presented in verse, but reads like a short story or vignette--more poetic prose than prosaic poetry.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Poem of the Day: "At the Bomb Testing Site" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 23, 2014 is "At the Bomb Testing Site" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been examined previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "At the Bomb Testing Site" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171499.

Millions of years ago, our tiny mammalian ancestors lurked in the shadows as the age of dinosaurs came to a cataclysmic end.  In "At the [Nuclear] Bomb Testing Site," in an ironic twist, a lizard--a descendant of the dinosaurs--waits for the self destruction of mankind--the descendants of the tiny mammals.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 22, 2014 is "Report to Crazy Horse" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been reviewed previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "Report to Crazy Horse" as well as an audio recording of it by the poet may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171506.

"Report to Crazy Horse" is a free verse poem arranged in seven stanzas of unequal length.  It reads as a report rather than a story, as the title implies.  The speaker is presumably the poet, as evidenced by the remark in the first stanza that the speaker did not fight in two wars, and by the remarks in the fifth stanza about saluting the American flag--William Stafford was a conscientious objector.  The second stanza is perhaps the most interesting and instructive.  Its lesson about how enemies are made of people who are scorned is as important now as ever.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Three New Poems by the Editor

After a trip to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City last week, I was inspired to add three more ekphrastic poems to my collection:


"What Fate Saint Cate?" A conversation between angels after Francisco de Zurbaran's The Entombment of Saint Catherine of Alexandria











"Water Sillies" after Claude Monet's Water Lilies








"Ovid Would Bristle" after Francesco Mosca's Atalanta & Meleager with the Calydonian Boar and the sculptor's inaccurate depiction of the myth.

Poem of the Day: "The Well Rising" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 21, 2014 is "The Well Rising" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been reviewed previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "The Well Rising" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/180209.

Having studies both poets, I continue to find similarities between William Wordsworth and William Stafford beyond their identical first names.  Wordsworth was fond of the traditional ballad.  Stafford's "The Well Rising" is balladic in form, organized in quatrains with four feet in every odd line and three in every even line.  The odd lines rhyme; the even ones end in consonance.  The theme is pastoral, as are practically all of Wordworth's poems, and, also as seen with Wordsworth, speaks to the inspiration that may be found in nature and the awe with which nature should be treated.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Poem by the Editor: "The Butterfly"

The Butterfly
Steven Wittenberg Gordon

For Rebecca

Out of the chrysalis,
the caterpillar’s masterwork,
at the appointed time,
another form emerges-- 

crawling caterpillar no longer,
the beautiful butterfly
spreads its diaphanous wings
and readies itself to face

the warm sunshine
and gentle breezes
as well as the driving rain
and violent storms of life,

painting colored trails on the wind
the envy of rainbows.

Poem of the Day: "After Arguing against the Contention That Art Must Come from Discontent" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 19, 2014 is "After Arguing against the Contention That Art Must Come from Discontent" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been reviewed previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "After Arguing against the Contention That Art Must Come from Discontent" may be found here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/237528.

William Stafford enjoyed hiking in the mountains, so it is reasonable to surmise that "After Arguing…" is autobiographical in nature.  The conceit is subtle but interesting--that adversity overcome may be exhilarating, and the elated feelings that result may inspire poetry every bit as good as that which might have sprung from experiencing the adversity itself.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Poetry Review Special Feature: "The Stain" by Ellen W. Kaplan

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "The Stain," a previously unpublished poem by Ellen W. Kaplan.  Ms. Kaplan is an actress, director, playwright, and professor of theatre at Smith College.  Her plays and poetry speak to growth, hope, and the stages of a woman’s life.  She has performed and had work produced in several countries, including:  Israel, China, Ireland, Romania, and Costa Rica; she also brings theatre into prisons and other non-traditional spaces.  She has published a book about mental illness on stage and published essays on Jewish, Chinese, and Argentinian theatre.  Her poetry has appeared in:  The Deronda Review, WordsMyth, The Voices Project, and MomEgg.  

The Stain
Ellen W. Kaplan

I keep returning to the stain
From water licking at the roof
Reminder of the rain, grey discoloration
On the ceiling, spreading to the floor,
Coming through the windows, shadow on the walls.

What I’ve seen, what has been seen,
Will be soon be seen no more.

Genius, to chisel out a window from a wall.
Much more revealing than a simple door!
Memory penetrates through windows and permeates it all;
I tremble to recall.  Still, the wilding blind unconscious
Swallows light.  Bliss and blisters, all.

Gaudy night, jaguar night that fast devours day –
the last sweet sigh of fleeting light, before we go away. 

Scenes of bedroom love and searing rages
Birth and death contained; in this room, the shifting contours of the stain
Resolve, dissolve and disappear in hungry darkness.
The door is open now, yawning like the gullet of a newborn bird.
I see the flames behind me now, at the mouth of illusion’s cave.

Screen of shadows, walls and windows
Ceiling, stain.  Signs of sweet sleep now,

What I’ve seen, what has been seen
Will be soon be seen – no more.

Poet's Notes:  I’ve always believed that much of the initial work on a poem happens unconsciously.  This poem bubbled to the surface after a prolonged illness, when the scope of my daily existence was limited to my bedroom.  The structure emerged after several revisions; the alternations in line length, the repetitions and variations, the internal rhymes and occasional end-rhymes intend to evoke the rhythms of life lived in stages, moving through life’s milestones towards joyful acceptance, deep understanding, and ultimately the end of all. 

Editor's Note:  The stanzaic structure of this poem serves its purpose well, as the rich memories of the past--the cinquains--are followed by the terse couplets of the present.  The language chosen enhances the story and, setting the story aside, creates an aural experience that is of interest in its own right, full of end-line and inter-line rhyme, alliteration, assonance, and consonance.  These devices are used with care, as a chef uses spices to accent rather than overwhelm a dish.  The conceit--opaque stain as (trans)lucent memory--is thought-provoking, even breathtaking.  The mood evoked--full of longing, regret, and resignation--clings without cloying.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poem of the Day: "At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 17, 2014 is "At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been reviewed previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border" and an audio recording of it may be found here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/237528.

The two rhyming cinquains of "At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border" pay tribute to the longest practically unguarded border between two countries in the entire world--that between the United States and Canada.  The grass crosses it seamlessly, as does the sky overhead.  The lasting peace between the two countries is remarkable, and would have been an important example of how the world ideally could be in the mind of the pacifist poet William Stafford.  Granted, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, there have been changes to the ease with which the border may be crossed, but the peaceful relations endure to this day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Poem of the Day: "Peace Walk" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 16, 2014 is "Peace Walk" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been reviewed previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "Peace Walk" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/240098.

Mr. Stafford was a pacifist and conscientious objector, before it was fashionable, who refused to serve in the military during World War II.  "Peace Walk" expresses his stance against nuclear weapons while demonstrating (pun intended) the futility of making a stand for disarmament.  In the end, the greatest nuclear power--the sun--makes it clear that the signs used in the protest are useful only for field expedient shade and not much else.

Poem of the Day: "A Message from the Wanderer" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 15, 2014 is "A Message from the Wanderer" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  In addition to the reviews this month, Mr. Stafford's work has been reviewed previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "A Message from the Wanderer" as well as an audio recording of Mr. Stafford reading the poem may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/237526.

In "A Message from the Wanderer," Mr. Stafford used the conceit of an (at first) unseen antelope as a metaphor for all the beauty and wonder in the world that we tend to overlook, distracted as we are by our work-a-day lives.  The poem is a call to freedom made by the poet to the reader.  It is a message that most of us need to hear, and, more importantly, heed.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Poem of the Day: "Visions" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 14, 2014 is "Visions" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  Mr. Stafford's work has been reviewed previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "Visions" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172102.

"Visions" is a free verse poem arranged in five numbered stanzas of non-uniform length.  Each stanza describes a "vision," experience, or thought of the speaker, presumably the poet, that could serve as a stand-alone poem--there does not appear to be much that links one stanza directly to another.

The first stanza recounts the unusual vision of a Mexican walking a pet tarantula in the same manner that one might walk a dog.  The speaker sees this as a divine message concerning the sanctity of all living things.

The second stanza is a commentary on the magical thinking that people engage in when gambling--more of a musing than a "vision."

The third stanza alludes to an incident when the speaker cut himself "to the bone."  This evoked visions in the speaker of whiteness--bone, snow, rocks on battlefields, grave markers, and roads.

The fourth stanza is a mini-elegy to someone named "Genevieve."  I particularly enjoyed the conceit of driving along a sunset ray--an interesting metaphor for death and memory.

The fifth stanza provides a conclusion of sorts.  Here, the speaker muses that some of his visions "combine" suddenly, and that he is perhaps better off for not following the trains of thought to which some of them might lead--he uses the metaphor of the sky looking at him as an example.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Poem: "The Battle of Shuhyung and the Yellow Emperor"

"The Battle of Shuhyung and the Yellow Emperor" is a Fantasy/Myth rhyming poem of 34 lines based on the Taoist story of the origin of the universe.  It features:  Shuhyung (the force of dark matter), the Yellow Emperor (the force of light), and Niuka (the horned dragon & ally of the Emperor).  The poem was inspired by a passage in The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo.

Poetry Review Special Feature: "It Blinks To Me" by Dusty Wallace

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "It Blinks To Me," a previously unpublished poem by Dusty Wallace.  Mr. Wallace lives in the Appalachians of Virginia with his wife and two sons.  He enjoys reading, writing, and the occasional fine cigar.  He is a Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA) member with poetry published in Star*Line and Mystic Nebula.  His fiction can be found in ARES Magazine #2, Mad Scientist Journal, and Apokrupha: Vignettes at the End of the World.  You can follow him on twitter @CosmicDustMite, or on his blog DustyVersion.blogspot.comor check him out on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Dusty-Wallace/e/B00JCZ89VG/.  

It Blinks To Me
Dusty Wallace

Your blinking looks strange, Caret.
Is that morse code?
Are you sending me a message?
Can you read these words?

Oh Caret, how I wish you’d respond.
You and I share so many lonely nights.
We stare at each other for hours.
Together we’ve created marvelous things.
And a few things that were awful.

If I knew how, I’d free you Caret.
Free you from my word processor,
give you new dimensions.
We’d frolick in the sun.
We’d go to the movies.
We’d adopt a cat.

Alas, I fear it will never be.
You are a text cursor and I am a person.
Cursed are we, doomed to solitude.
Yet my heart burns for you, Caret.
Does your heart burn for me?

Poet's Notes:  Human/A.I. relationships have been plentiful in popular fiction, television, and film of late.  Her directed by Spike Jonze, TV's Almost Human, and Ann Leckie's award-winning novel Ancillary Justice are just a few examples.  But the piece of technology I spend most of my time with is my laptop--more specifically, the word-processing program on my laptop.  Sometimes I'm able to keep my cursor (also called a caret) speeding along, producing fiction and poetry at a workmanlike pace.  Other times my screen is blank save for that blinking vertical line.  So instead of another serious effort to marry human emotion with futuristic software, I thought I'd pen a love letter to my most loyal of suitors, the blinking cursor.  The poem itself is free form and with any luck will induce a chuckle or two with its melodramatic longing.

Editor's Note:  Mr. Wallace's conceit of an AI as a real, emotional being is hardly a new idea, but he presents it with such whimsy that it feels like one.  I was reminded of Electric Dreams, an early example of the concept and a film that to this day has a profound influence on me.

If you enjoyed this example of Mr. Wallace's work, you would also enjoy his poem "Commander in Chief" which appeared in the February 2014 issue of Songs of Eretz Poetry E-zine (Volume 1, Issue 4).  It may be found in the e-zine archives http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/p/e-zine_4.html.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Poem of the Day: "Bess" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 12, 2014 is "Bess" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  Mr. Stafford's work has been reviewed previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "Bess" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171508.

Notice the skill with which Stafford uses enjambment in this elegy, sometimes to create suspense, sometimes to create double meaning, sometimes to create a sudden change in mood:

The first line starts out in a positive, happy mood until the enjambed last word of the first sentence is discovered in the first word of the second line.

The fifth line ends as Bess' "hand went out."  The reader is briefly left hanging.  "Her hand went out" for what?  A bribe?  To shoo people away?  We find out in the enjambed beginning of the next line--"her had went out / to help."

In the seventh line, it appears that Bess did her best to spare her friends' feelings "from knowing" about her sickness.  No doubt she did, as from the entire poem we see that Bess was that kind of person.  However, another meaning is created in the enjambed words of the next line--"she had to keep her friends from knowing / how happy they were."  In other words, she listened to their complaints, all the while biting her tongue to resist saying, "at least you aren't dying from a painful cancer."

The last word of the first stanza creates a shocking double meaning when placed in the context of the enjambed first word of the second stanza, enhanced here by the double break of both line and stanza.

The penultimate line ends with "her hand opened," which harkens us back to the fifth line.  But this time, we see as the enjambment continues in the last line that her hand opened in death and in a kind of wave of goodbye as "she wished all well."

Friday, July 11, 2014

Poem of the Day: "Accountability" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 11, 2014 is "Accountability" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  Mr. Stafford's work has been reviewed previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "Accountability" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171509.

Similar to Wordsworth, Stafford uses the plain language of the common man.  He uses some poetic devices--near rhymes and end-line rhymes, consonance, assonance, imagery, and metaphor--but only in the same way as a master chef uses spices--to enhance rather than to overwhelm.

In the second stanza of this two stanza poem, we learn that the children of the wintery Wyoming town are learning philosophy, religion, and even metaphysics.  In the first stanza we see what those children will become--truckers traveling from town to town and tavern to tavern.  The children are "hollow" as the "yellow" school bus--empty of knowledge that will be of service to them.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Poem of the Day: "Humanities Lecture" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month

The Songs of Eretz Poem of the Day for July 10, 2014 is "Humanities Lecture" by William E. Stafford, Poet of the Month.  Mr. Stafford's work has been reviewed previously here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-once-in-40s-by-william.html, where a brief biography and references may be found.  The text of "Humanities Lecture" may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171510.

This poem is chock full of end-line rhyme, internal rhyme, end-line assonance and consonance, and alliteration, all seamlessly woven into the overall poetic scheme.  The conceit--Aristotle as a lizard--evokes images of eyes that move independently in all directions--as a result, the see-er becomes a seer, as Aristotle was.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Poetry Review Special Feature: "Mournful" by Lauren McBride

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "Mournful," a previously unpublished poem by Lauren McBride.  Mrs. McBride finds inspiration in faith, nature, molecular biology (she is a former researcher), and membership in the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA).  Twice nominated for the 2014 SFPA Dwarf Stars Award, her work has appeared in various speculative, nature, and children's publications including: Songs of Eretz Poetry E-zine, Dreams and Nightmares, Tales of the Talisman, and The Magazine of Speculative Poetry.  She shares a love of laughter, science, and the ocean with her husband and two children.

Mournful
Lauren McBride

Mournful the howl of the wind
          bringing clouds of darkest gray.

Mournful the cry of the keepers
          feeling the lighthouse sway.

Mournful the rain, the lash of waves
          washing the keepers away.

Mournful the wail of the widows
          for loved ones drowned in the fray.

Mournful the old stone lighthouse
          where ghosts now walk, they say.

Poet's Notes:  Most of the poems I write are minimalist or free verse.  But I also love poetry where rhyme is integral to the writing, as traditional and children's poetry.  For weekly inspiration, I visit the blog of children's poet, Laura Purdie Salas, where poems of fifteen words or less and comments are posted on Thursdays around a picture prompt:  http://www.laurasalas.com/blog/.


"Mournful" is the result of an attempt to create a rhyme that invokes a mood, a sound, an ebb and flow of rhythm like waves upon a shore.  It was heavily influenced by stories I heard as a child about Minot's Light near Boston Harbor.

Editor's Note:  I love Mrs. McBride's use of anaphora here--driving like a rainstorm rather than tediously repetitive.  Her choice of the single rhyme supports the rhythm, and her use of consonance in the non-rhyming lines is particularly well-executed.  Her use of alliteration and consonance within lines evokes the sounds of the sea.

For another poem about Minot's Lighthouse and some interesting background and history, see:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/04/poem-of-day-minots-ledge-lighthouse-by.html.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Poetry Review Special Feature: "Driving West" by DeVan Burton

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "Driving West," a previously unpublished poem by DeVan Burton.  Mr. Burton holds a degree from East Tennessee State University and is currently a graduate student there.  Prior to attending East Tennessee State, Mr. Burton was the editor of and a contributor to The Caney Creek Review Roane State Community College's literary journal.  His recent work has been published in The Southern Poetry Anthology.  Mr. Burton hails from Knoxville, Tennessee.  

Driving West
DeVan Burton

My girlfriend kissed my car’s windshield and told
me to hurry back for lemon pie, coffee, and her.
In nine hundred and fifty-five miles I will see my mother again.
She will be cold. Quiet. Statue still.
Between Crossville, Nashville, and Jackson
my car leaked oil. Leaving the east, on purpose,
felt rebellious. Mother made the same trip too.
Trails of shattered glass followed her.
So did the bad names and poor choices.
Every Saturday night she raced out of my grandmother’s
home like a teenager while I read myself to sleep.
After Memphis, the traces of red lips had vanished.
I watched the hours of asphalt travel beneath my car,
behind damp, dark lenses.

Poet's Notes:  The 20th century British poet Philip Larkin once said, "The poet should touch our hearts by showing his own.''  For me, that means a poet should strive to produce work that is honest and pure and that connects with the reader.

Editor's Note:  The opening two lines are riveting--what an image!  I found myself further drawn in by the sudden change in mood of the third line.  The story of the speaker's mother is unexpected, interesting, and, while parallel, offers a nice contrast to the speaker's story.  The ending completes the transition from the warmth and happiness of the east to the cold and sadness of the west.  I definite felt a "connection" with Mr. Burton as I read his moving poem.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Poetry Review Special Feature: "Early Thaw" by Kristine Chalifoux

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "Early Thaw," a previously unpublished poem by Kristine Chalifoux, the Chairperson of the English Department at Raleigh Charter High School.  Ms. Chalifoux received her MFA from Columbia University.  In her professional life, she has been the Assistant Director of the Poetry Society of America, and the Associate Director of DePaul University’s Honors Program.  Her chapbook, In This Light, won the 1999 West Town Press prize.  Her poems have appeared in a number of literary magazines, including The Brooklyn Review, The Antioch Review, and Janus Head.  She resides in North Carolina with her magical daughter, Ktimene.


Early Thaw
Kristine Chalifoux

It snowed in the early morning
hours, long before light,
leaving a dusting on grass
& woodland leaves. The first snow

of winter & also the last.
The provocative late morning
sun teases temperatures closer to
forty, & the snow retreats like a dream

that fades on waking.
It’s the only snow of the season.
I want it to last. A melancholy
ache as palpable as the talcy granules of snow

dusting grass blades & leaves in the yard
rises in me & wants to find utterance --
a keening as old as the world.
How odd then, this silent snow, as soft

as old skin, creeping noiselessly away into
patches of shade beneath the yard’s loblollies?
Why is it we can find it in our hearts
to cherish the things of this world

only the moment before they vanish?

Poet's Notes:  There's something about the seasonal changes in North Carolina--each day seems to bring something new, or put to bed something old--for example, in spring, camellias precede forsythia which give way to wisteria which bow out to 
crape myrtle….  Winter is brief, and its brevity also calls one to attention.  "Early Thaw" is a reflection on these changes and how we often only begin to pay attention at the ends of things.

Editor's Note:  The first/last snow conceit makes a perfect metaphor for our too late appreciation of the beautiful things in life.  I love the way Ms. Chalifoux folds susurrations into the lines--so reminiscent of snow.  The mood she creates--full of melancholy, yearning, and a sense of loss--filled me as I read.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Poetry Review Special Feature: "Fixer Doc" by Gerard Sarnat

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "Fixer Doc" by Gerard Sarnat.  Dr. Sarnat is the author of two critically acclaimed poetry collections, Homeless Chronicles:  From Abraham to Burning Man (2010), and Disputes (2012).  His pieces have appeared or are forthcoming in eighty-five or so journals and anthologies.  As a physician, Dr. Sarnat has set up and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised; he has also been a CEO of health care organizations, and a Stanford professor.  His work has been reviewed in The Huffington Post, and his third poetry collection, 17s, in which each poem, stanza or line has seventeen syllables, is slated to be published later this year.

Fixer Doc
Gerard Sarnat                               

i. Hardcore Dys-Orthopod

Writer works to get under skin, doc rushes through gore he bathes within... 

Shrieking from someone else's head,
the only thing I wore was my pain.

Scrunched on all fours, morphine’s rush alerts me to the lure of narcotics.

Throw away crutches, sneak
in the med locker -- Lord, I can more’n walk!

Failing to toe the thin professional line
between order, chaos;

months of success pocketing half-used Demerol vials; penile pustules

fester faster than tracks discovered
under my tongue. On probation,

if only I could forge a gentleman-junkie’s DEA license.


ii. Pitiable Plea

Sob story right side of the tracks turned wrong,
tears piss puke dental pain yips,

if you don’t publish my piece of shit this time, I’m gonna kill me now

or start using again you are my only hope.
Steven, cheers, Gerry. 

Poet's Notes:  “Fixer Doc” will follow “Nobel Prize Valedictory” in my third collection, 17s.  They demonstrate the medical profession's flip sides.  “Fixer” takes off from a deceased colleague’s reality, but brings it back home to my own "addiction" to writing poetry.

Editor's Note:  The "Pitiable Plea" part of the poem makes it autobiographical and obviously more personal--a nice touch.  The use of alliteration works well in both parts of the poem, and the shock and awe imagery produces a visceral reaction--one of fascination, revulsion, and pity.