3rd Wednesday’s Poem of the Week is a preview of our summer issue due out in a few days. It comes to us from Ellie Anderson of Bellevue, Washington, a hotbed of contemporary poetry.
Thanks for joining us.
Third Wednesday is a finely produced print journal that provides a quarterly outlet for both experienced and new writers and artists whose work deserves to be in print, publishing writers, poets and visual artists from all over the world.
Third Wednesday accepts submissions of poetry and prose through our Submittable account. We never charge submission or reading fees (except for contests) and registration at Submittable is free.
Third Wednesday contributor Buff Whitman-Bradley’s new book, At the Driveway Guitar Sale: Poems on Aging, Memory, Mortality, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing Company. A few of the poems in the book were originally published in Third Wednesday. He podcasts at thirdactpoems.podbean.com
At the Driveway Guitar Sale can be puchased from Main Street Rag.
I’ve read this author in many publications over the years, and listened to his own gently cadenced readings on his podcast, and I love his poetry. Wit, imagination, a perfect ear, and an effortless touch (not to mention knee-slapping punchlines) mark all of Whitman-Bradley’s work, and the poems in this book are no different. The poet is forgivingly and unforgivingly self-aware, somehow finding all the poetry in life’s least poetic moments. ~Roger Stoll, essayist and poet
For all of us, even though we may continue to climb stairs and eat our vegetables, the ever-expanding past continues to nip at our heels. Buff Whitman-Bradley reminds us in these poems that we are not alone, that we participate in a common project with its pitfalls and distractions. He calls attention to the gifts and graces that accompany a seasoned perspective, and that there is a special liveliness and wise humor that comes with age that is both balm and elixir. ~Gary Crounse
With his signature grace and economy, Buff Whitman-Bradley tackles the unimaginable; the body’s elemental breakdown and the proverbial leap into the unknown which awaits us all. Never settling for abstraction or platitude, these poems are as rugged and beautiful as the California landscapes humming in the background. And though he may have given up on his plan ‘to be an ancient Chinese poet’, something of their wild humor and gem-like clarity shines on every page. ~Seth Jani, Publisher and Editor of Seven CirclePress, Author of Night Fable
A Zen master of my acquaintance
Once said that when he died
He wished to leave no trace.
All the backpackers I know
Say the same
About their sojourns in the wild.
No messes, no unfinished business.
It’s a good idea to tidy up
Before all of our little departures
And our impending Big One –
Douse the coals, strew the ashes,
Bag any food scraps,
Bits of paper, foil and cardboard,
Erase all footprints,
Be forthright, apologize, forgive –
So that what remains of us in memory
Is not a squalid little campsite
Full of trash and debris
And tangled disputes
That will cause great consternation
To those left behind,
But is instead
An expanse of mountain grasses
Beside a high cold tarn
Where ones who loved us
Might like to pass a little time,
Pitch a tent,
Build a fire.
3rd Wednesday’s poem of the week is a fun list poem with an engaging title. It’s by Maryland poet, Kurt Olsson, and comes from our spring issue, which is available free online.
Sparrows and Dust, Poems by Zilka Joseph – The Ridgeway Press
Is this the bird way? Where is home? What is the fate of wanderers? Have we all been “elsewhere”? Will truths be revealed to us in the end? In this finely tuned chapbook, the poet uses free verse and form to sing her stories, her history, her geography, her experience as an immigrant who finds rest after loss and upheaval with imagination and passion. With deft use of imagery, language and the senses, she travels and shape-shifts. She weaves in science, mysticism, imagination and myth. We fly from India to Michigan and back, from this world to other in-between states where memory, death, loss, the present, the search for home and the self all sing through several voices, and become a miniature symphony. As Attar tells us through his bird characters in his allegorical rendering of Sufism— “the way is long” so we must persevere to find the truth. We are but “water mixed with dust”. The bird-soul can only rest briefly, then it must move on.
Zilka Joseph is an educator, editor and a widely published poet. Her chapbooks, Lands I Live In and What Dread, were nominated for a PEN America and a Pushcart award respectively. Her book Sharp Blue Search of Flame (WSUP) and was a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Book Award. http://www.zilkajoseph.com
The poems in Zilka Joseph’s Sparrows and Dust are separate skies—each a wrought song woven with a world of birds: mynah, grackle, swan, sparrow, hoopoe, heron, kingfisher, and dozens of others. From Mumbai and Kolkata in her native India to the yard outside her house in Michigan, this bird-crossed world is made smaller and more beautiful, as Joseph watches the skies and the breadth of her blue heart for the migration of the spirits of her parents and other ancestors. “Leave me a feather to dream on, a map to follow…” one poem sings. As I read and listened to these soaring, gorgeous poems, I felt the dust shake loose; I found myself more open, more buoyant, and more alive.”
—Robert Fanning, author of Severance, Our Sudden Museum, American Prophet and The Seed Thieves
Song and flight, which all poets aspire to achieve, are evident here, there, and everywhere, in this collection of Zilka Joseph’s poems. Her language sings. Between bird-beat and heart-beat, it’s an instrument exquisitely attuned to her love of depths and flitting surfaces. In poem after poem, we return with Zilka to who we are—a gift, a mystery, a wound seeking salve, light-bearers, dipping and swerving through passages of open air, sky and soul, in and out of memory and loss, anxiety and joy, arrival and parting, to settle and nest in the now.
—Ralph Nazareth is the author of Ferrying Secrets; Between Us the Long Road; & Dropping Death. He is the Managing Editor of Yuganta Press and the President of GraceWorks, Inc., an international nonprofit.
When I look up from these poems, I agree with Zilka Joseph that “I have been somewhere else,” perhaps in the mind of a bird. In these remarkable pieces, she explores the dust baths of sparrows–indeed, the behavior of many “life-birds”– as symbols for existence and wonder. Her words wing through family ancestry, migration, and the journey to a place called Michigan where the metaphors shift—hawks overhead, loss and death, but the dust still may, and finally does, shimmer. These are poems of memory and insight the color of saris and feathers, of meaning that rises from origins and resilience and high-flying beauty.
—Anne-Marie Oomen is author of Uncoded Woman, a tale in poems, and Love, Sex and 4-H, winner of the Next Generation Award for Memoir, among others. She teaches at Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College.
Zilka Josheph Poems published in Third Wednesday:
The Geese Who Came to Nest—Winter 2021
Once Upon a Snow Bunting
Purchase Sparrows and Dust from Small Press Distribution.
3rd Wednesday’s annual George Dila Flash Fiction Contest is open for entries:
From the sping issue of 3rd Wednesday, this poem was an honorable mention in our annual poetry contest.
Infinity Standing Up by Drew Pisarra
A DELIGHTFUL COLLECTION OF LOVE SONNETS
“A stunning collection of unique and eclectic observations of modern love which I’m sure Shakespeare himself would be pleased to see is ‘holding a mirror up to life.’ If Wes Anderson and Miranda July had a Queer love-child, they’d write like this.”
– Anna Girvan, Creative Fellow with the Royal Shakespeare Company
“Rhyming and skipping his way through jaggedly sexualized and playful, formal sonnets with serendipity and style (“Devour me! Think me not some crazy nut.”), Drew Pisarra has written a rousing and unusual collection of poems that respond with see-saw emotion to a lover who comes and goes, with difficulty and love. Puns abound; titles tease. These sonnets will knock you out, and you’ll return to them again.”
– Diane Mehta, How to Write Poetry (2005)
“These poems navigate the rapids of desire in a form that was made for twists and turns of feeling, from the derangement of lust to rueful self-reflection. Drew Pisarra honors the Shakespearean sonnet’s tradition of wit and economy, while simultaneously delivering the pleasurable shock of 21st-century idiom.”
– Joan Larkin, Cold River (Lambda Literary Award)
About Drew Pisarra: The author once toured his monologues around the country and even had a ventriloquist act but has since retired from the world of dummies. His short story collection Publick Spanking was published by Future Tense some time ago. More recently as part of the installation art duo Saint Flashlight (with Molly Gross), he’s been finding inventive ways to get poetry into public spaces.
About Capturing Fire Press: This independent publishing house was founded by Regie Cabico and seeks to promote politically charged performance and experimental poetry of the highest quality by diverse queer poets from around the globe.
3rd Wednesday’s poem of the week is a prize winning poem from our annual poetry contest. It appears in the spring issue of the magazine, now available in print at Amazon or as a free download from our website.
Here’s everything you want in poetry. Understandable language—check. Interesting, inventive use of words—check. Topics that reference matters of common interest—check. Insights way beyond the usual—check. Don’t skim this collection. You’d miss way too much that makes our lives meaningful. Enter and walk “unafraid in this new topography.”
—Sharon Scholl, Professor emerita of humanities. Author of Music and Culture, Death and the Humanities, and three chapbooks of poetry
WHEN YOU GET HERE is a celebration of the small, precise details that accumulate, like snowflakes, into a life. It’s a map, guiding us though a landscape of grief, wonder and sensuality, touching all the delicate connections in between. We peek in cupboards, wrestle with lovers, walk on thin ice, followed by a wolf. Every poem reminds the reader to breathe, sense, and feel what it is to be alive.
—Joyce Sweeney, author of Impermanence and Wake up, Finishing Line Press
Here Shutta Crum’s love of language takes us on a fascinating journey, gives us Driving Directions, promises the road knows the way. She opens Father’s Cupboard, lets us see what held his world. She studies A Philosophy of Luminescence in a confining marriage and offers new light. In You Can Have It Back she wants to return the rib taken from Adam and given to woman, for it no longer holds her aright after the death of a poet friend. In What I Bequeath, Shutta says one day her bones will speak a language we will understand. We are fortunate—in this beautiful collection, she speaks clearly to us and we understand.
—Chris Lord, author of Field Guide to Luck and What We Leave, founder of Word’n Woman Press
Shutta Crum’s poems are in Typehouse, Stoneboat, Southern Poetry Review, Beyond Words and 3rd Wednesday. Forthcoming: Main Street Rag. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Typehouse. When You Get Here (2020) won a gold Royal Palm Literary Award. For more info or to book as a speaker: www.shutta.com