Posts Tagged ‘Poetic Asides’

Like Nerval, who walked little Thibault 
in the gardens of the Palais-Royal on a long 
blue ribbon and wrote, All things feel!
I appreciate the lobster’s tranquility. 
They don’t bark or whine, a positive 
quality in a writer’s pet. Lobsters know 
the sea’s secrets and predict the weather. 
They pilgrimage to deep water just before 
hurricanes begin to raze their coral homes. 
Tucking single-file into each other’s slipstreams, 
they help one another cover many miles in one day, 
and return the same way to feed and mate 
once the storms are done. Honor in each 
creature the spirit which moves it,
 wrote Nerval. 
We think we are masters of the earth because 
we are powerful. All I want is for us to see 
life in all things, the generous crustaceans, 
the patient stones and waters, all breathing.

Marie-Elizabeth Mali
posted at “Poetic Asides” (17 April 2009)

Commentary:  To me, this is an extraordinary poem, alive and aware and awake. I love the sensitivity to creation, the knowledge of the ocean, the realization of what pilgrimage means. Marie-Elizabeth Mali’s poetry has amazed me this month as I have read it at “Poetic Asides” and elsewhere.

Two other poems by Marie-Elizabeth Mali that I’ve really appreciated, among the many that draw me, are “Training the Wisteria” and “Screening Babies for Broken Hearts.”

“Training the Wisteria” 

Your dropped leaves clog the neighbors’ 
gutters every fall, forcing us to go next door 
and clean them out. A hateful task. 
So we cut you back hard last year, hacking 
at your cling, your overgrown need. 
Beautiful in spring, your flowers purple 
the terrace. And in summer, your leaves 
shade us from neighbors’ peeping eyes. 
But you’re too much, always wanting 
tending. I never call enough. Never visit 
enough. Don’t you see I need these 
walls unbendable by choking vines? 

“Screening Babies for Broken Hearts” 

It wasn’t so much the cigarettes 
as her womb’s frozen pleat. 

When they fished me out, love-thirsty, 
I almost turned belly-up in the acidic air. 

Back then, no tests existed for hearts 
shattered in transit. No epoxy, either. 

So I built a shelter out of teeth, crafted 
a metatarsal raft, checked the wind 

and set sail on waters of my own making, 
tattered sail raised, tacking toward you

To read more of her work, visit Marie-Elizabeth Mali’s website: www.floweringlotus.com.

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Since taking Robert Lee Brewer’s challenge on “Poetic Asides” to write a poem every day during National Poetry Month this April 2009, I’ve had the pleasure of reading many good poems on Robert’s site by poets I didn’t know before. One of them is Yoly Calderon-Horn, author of Slip Out of Weeping Shoes, which is available from Lopside Press. I found her poem, “Bluemoon,” online and include it here:


Oh yes, this was the place
I recall the red
and mustard leafy walk we took
under a brilliant October moon.

The crunch filled
the momentary awkward spaces
and still, we charmed the nightingales
to stay.

The nightingale is, of course, a symbol of inspiration to poets, and it seems those little muses are flying about our souls not only in October, but in April as well!

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“At first they seemed just errant bits of shade,
until the humming grew too loud to be denied
as the bees flew in and out, as if choreographed”
–Eleanor Rand Wilner, “The Girl with Bees in her Hair”


You’ve read the headlines, I’m sure. All the bees
are disappearing from around the United States—
what researchers call Colony Collapse Disorder.

Millions of bees are simply abandoning their hives
as if they’ve stopped taking their MAOI’s,
to discovered they don’t like themselves any more.

Leaving the queen and their developing pupae
the adults leave no trace of themselves as they search
for their lost childhood amid the scattering winds.


Researchers are puzzled. Blaming everything they can
from parasites to pesticides, they blindly offer
this small modicum of well thought out advice:

“Do not combine collapsing colonies with strong colonies.”
“If you feed your bees sugar, incorporate antibiotics.”
“Hide the abandoned hive, as to discourage coming home.”

Most important, if you see honey bees where you
have never seen them, report your sightings
to the proper authorities and try to act normal.


With the disappearance of all the honeybees, experts point
to the decline of the almond crop and global warming,
laying yet another doomsday scenario at our feet.

I believe they have forgotten the music of bees en masse,
that noise of Yeats, the solace of the world like a choir,
harmonizing with all the other beasts, great and small.

I myself will miss their dance, their swarm, men wearing them
for beards. I will not soon forget that imagined masterpiece
of Monet: Tiny specks of light against a canvass of meadow green.

Justin Evans
as a comment on Brewer’s “Poetic Asides” (4 April 2009)

Commentary: I love this poem. To read more of Justin Evans’ poetry, see utahpoet.blogspot.com.

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Would you know my name
if found out of water? I hold
my breath for hours and sing
across the spaces where I dream.
Would you believe I was ever
vulnerable? I find the part
you love most is the monster
lurking in me, that unknown
quantity hiding beneath
the surface. If I could swallow
you whole and hold you within,
would you call out my name?

Robert Lee Brewer
Poetic Asides” (4 April 2009)

Commentary: Robert is the author of “Poetic Asides,” a great poetry blog. In April, which is national poetry month, he is sponsoring the “poem- a-day” challenge: an invitation to poets to write a poem each day in response to his prompt and then post their poems as comments on his blog. I’m doing it! It certainly is inspiring, and it’s giving me drafts of poems to rework in the future. Robert is, too – setting an example every day. Today, he wrote about the whale.

I loved reading Robert’s poem. Its title character reminded me of an Old English poem called “The Whale,” which is much longer, and its structure (brief, with questions), reminded me of Old English riddles from the Exeter book. The allusion to Jonah in the belly of the whale delighted me! The poem also made me think of Herman Melville (of course), and Captain Ahab’s obsessive pursuit of the “monster”-whale known as Moby Dick, but also of Ursula K. Le Guin, who writes about the power of knowing the true name of another created being in the EARTHSEA series of fantasy novels for young adults.

So I’ve included Robert’s poem here, and I encourage you to check out “Poetic Asides“!

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