Our Third Wednesday Poem of the Week, “The Errand” is by James Schneider of Brunswick, Maine. It appeared in Third Wednesday Vol. XI, No.1 The link will take you to a reprint with audio from Maine Public Radio. http://www.mainepublic.org/post/errand#stream/0
Our “Poem of the Week” features an experimental poem by Pigpen Madigan. You can read the poem in the conventional way or read two poems, one in parentheses, the other not, separately. We have paired it with a photograph by Rana Williams. Both are from the Winter issue of Third Wednesday.
Our poem of the week is by Michigan poet, Joy Gaines-Friedler. It comes from a series of poems, nine of which were just published in our Spring issue of Third Wednesday. This one was chosen for its wonderful images.
The sea surprisingly warm, the sky a blue room I wait in. Fearless pelicans plunge headlong into waves.
I walk the imagery of my mother’s life. There are no birds in these images, I have never seen her dip her toe into the tide
never seen her startled by stars, no wonderment at the way water ripples or forms clouds. She is never looking up.
Here in the space between waves where a kind of sanctity floats I praise what I can:
A porcelain blue saucer, the smell of Aqua Net & acetate nails polished Frank Sinatra smooth,
the Formica table worn pale from hours of Solitaire, cravings to leave – hers as much as mine.
I return to her room – keep shut the blinds, the way she always liked them.
The day clings to the edge.
Outside a cloud of a thousand starlings move in unison, left then right – then left. They land. Settled-in for the night.
We’ve had our first day of spring, but it’s still March. Here’s a poem from Canadian poet, Susanne von Rennenkampff, that reminds us that spring may not be just around the corner in all parts of the world, and for some people, that’s cause for celebration.
Skiing In March
Maybe if you forget it’s March, forget that elsewhere they’ve been wearing shorts for weeks;
if you are suddenly stopped in your tracks by the intricate pattern rising on the white trunk of a birch, the rows upon rows of silvery beads; if you feel the bright splash of rosehips on fresh snow, crimson like blood from the queen’s finger, and do not flinch;
if you kneel down, put your two fists side by side in the prints of the moose that crossed the trail this morning;
maybe then you will be grateful that you still can ski while elsewhere snowdrops and primroses have bloomed for weeks.
Massachusetts poet, Marge Piercy, remembers when houses were heated with coal. My family referred to our coal furnace as “The Octopus”.
The Air Smelled Dirty
Everyone burned coal in our neighborhood, soft coal they called it from the mountains of western Pennsylvania where my father grew up and fled as soon as he could, where my Welsh cousins dug it down in the dark.
The furnace it fed stood in the dank basement, its many arms upraised like Godzilla or some other monster. It was my job to pull out clinkers and carry them to the alley bin.
Mornings were chilly, frost on windows etching magic landscapes. I liked to stand over the hot air registers the warmth blowing up my skirts. But the basement scared me at night.
The fire glowed like a red eye through the furnace door and the clinkers fell loud and the shadows came at me as mice scampered. The washing machine was tame but the furnace was always hungry.
Our Poem of the Week comes to us from Malta. It’s not easy to write a fresh piece about a topic that’s been written about so much.
I hear your voice As you talk on the phone with your friends The kindness in your words is convincing The laughter genuine And for a split of a second I remember when you used to speak in the same tone to me the same sincere laughter and I forget that it’s the same voice you use to bludgeon the insignificant me
Literature is a way for us to have experiences, good or bad, that we have no way to experience for ourselves. Poetry can be especially good at doing this, as demonstrated by our poem of the week, written by California poet, Deborah LaFalle.
Huge ‘fros, perfect spheres of nappiness five deep in M’s ‘60 Chevy Impala subtle swaying to the silky smooth soul of the Delfonics on 8-track Didn’t I blow your mind this time?
Suddenly a siren, flashing red lights consume the rear window Our eyes meet each others’ bewildered – What’s up? M ejects tape
Heavy-set officer approaches takes the blue stance “License and registration.” We know the drill M obliges
“Where’re you all going?” “To get something to eat – dorm cafeteria closed on weekends.” I’m thinking… Why should we have to explain?
“Is there something wrong officer?” “I’ll ask the questions.” Silence flashlight beams in our faces then in our laps
A walk around the car looking, hoping to find something some small shred of evidence to cite, worst yet – arrest
“Open the glove box.” M obliges again Nothing Officer chucks M his IDs “Luck was on your side tonight.”
Once back in his squad car we exhale, M slides tape back in but we don’t resume the sway We’re not hungry anymore Another day of DWB.