Friday, April 15, 2011

Jose Angel Araguz

The 2River View was one of the first publications to which I submitted when I started publishing in earnest last fall. The poems I submitted did not make it; however, I like to think that, because I received my response just before the reading period ended, my work had made it onto a short list of strong candidates but was bumped by something stronger. Although that conclusion has nothing to do with reality, it's still a nice bit of solace.

I was checking in on the 2River View's website to see what its current reading period is when I stumbled across two poems by Jose Angel Araguz. I was startled by the wondrous everyday-ness of the imagery. Particularly, in "Hansel to his muse" the weight of the argument breaks "off in pieces / That trail behind" and each subsequent line break adds another reading, another sense of the readings- divergent and coterminous. I won't post it here, I haven't asked permission. But you can read it in the Spring 2011 2River View, or find another piece of his in American Life in Poetry.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Poem in Your Pocket

Not to be mistaken with "Words in my Pocket" - a non-fiction, narrative column in one of Seymour's community newspapers - Poem in Your Pocket Day is today. The event, organized by the Academy of American Poets, simply requires participants to keep a poem, a verse or even a couple lines on their person so that they can quickly disseminate poems to friends and passer-bys. Here's a pocket-sized poem of mine that originally appeared in Midwest Literary Magazine's Bearing North.

“Field Day”

Field day, Port Orchard, and the slate
Sky pours itself out, closing lower field,
The big toy, and eventually even the tetherball pole.
Sequestered Under the covered area, where
On stormy days we lined up, each
Bus line ready to ship off gloomy, noisy
And unavoidably wet. There, only
Hula hoping and jumping rope were
Officially endorsed activities.
On that field day, the black top seeped
With rain water working through
Cracks or slapping off the shoe
Soles of the wet and adventurous
Rule breakers, rushing out when heads are
Turned for the thrill of it.
I stood there, wet hands, jeans,
Shock-headed and dripping:
A pioneer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Not long ago, I was searching for something that had me looking through the website of my almost alma mater - Thomas More College (NH). While there, I stumbled across several issues of Communitas, the official magazine/newsletter, from my tenure at the college. During my semester in Rome I worked on a series of poems as part of my coursework, presenting them for critiques each week to the writing professor. Toward the end of the project, the professor (who also happened to be in charge of producing Communitas at that time) asked me to select two poems to appear in the next issue. Technically, the appearance of my work in Communitas was the first appearance of my work in print. As is befitting for a student's poetry, these pieces are a little too high-minded for their own good, but are, in their own way, rather experimental. I was still feeling out for the pacing of lines, trying to find what felt right in my mind's mouth. It took about two years for another piece to find a home on paper.
La Piazza

A fountain, rendered useless by the rain,
Gave its meek contribution to the street.
Potable water lost its clarity
As it ran off into the dingy-brown
Floodtide of the Easter Janiculum.
The city became more Venice than Rome—
The silting dynamic of renewal.
A wall-fountain by San Cosimato,
With a modern mosaic backsplash,
Dove into the walkway beneath the playplace.
Fresh rainwater mixed with the recycled
Waterfall that runs continuously.
Save a few cars and a starving student,
The entire piazza was empty.
The rain stopped a short while later.
The clouds threatened, keeping us all at bay,
Not wanting us to see the rebirthing
Of cobblestone, tessera, and asphalt.
Even the still-life that human hands made
Became re-lightened by the clouded sky.

La Strada

Accordion wafts its dulcet melodies through the streets,
And into eddies
Formed by brick walls
Trapping the late afternoon air tightly.
And in the drafts
Distance is lost
As laden strollers spend the sun crossing from nap
to nap
With not a care except their mother’s lingering
Mixing with the foreign sounds.
Buskers spend their time pumping and extracting
city air.
From time to time
They halt the wind
With the serpentine flow of their unabashed
Which carry with them a lifetime’s worth of
dripping sounds.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


It seems one of the more traditional ways to celebrate National Poetry Month is by taking part in a Poem-a-Day challenge. Writer's Digest hosts a PAD challenge on their blog that offers the convenience of daily prompts and some level of camaraderie. I write at a much slower pace - currently I have a backlog that need me to put pen to paper - and have not been able to keep up.

Rather, I've been exploring what chapbooks I can get my hands on. Two are sitting on my desk right now, half thumbed-through, waiting to be finished. Top on my list is why is my lemon tea red by Jeff Fleming, the editor of nibble magazine - someone who, if I hadn't corresponded with him a few times, I would suspect has entirely lost the ability to capitalize. That frightens me, an obsessive devotee of the shift-key. Next chap down is less on my desk than my desktop. David McLean's puppies and monks and medieval memories has a clean, manuscript feel to its layout. I opted for the free, .pdf version of it available from Heavy Hands Ink.

I intend to share the reviews here as they form. Until then, I'm still looking for other chapbooks to sink my teeth into. My next major project will be collecting and organizing material for a chapbook of my own to submit.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What didn't make it (the storm pt 2)

What didn't make it was my piece "Green Bay." Both poems that I submitted were originally part of a longer poem (one of my few over a page) of place-names. The editors of Verse Wisconsin shared with me that it felt like the start of a good poem. After reading it again in isolation, I'm beginning to agree. I'll let you read it and decide.

“Green Bay”

The bay looms large, chewing pulp along the Fox
And wafting exhaust, obscuring the lake.
The steam glows at night, mangling factory lights
Acting backdrop to the spot lit bell towers
That gleam daytime against the twilight plumes.
Along the horizon, town lights lurk
Reminders of places that trip my tongue.
Their sounds so familiar and removed.

The Storm

An impressive supercell rolled across Wisconsin last night, lighting up the sky and causing some considerable damage. Worse yet, the giddy meteorologist announced that Northeastern Wisconsin residents could experience snow in a wintry mix this Sunday. This summer looks like it may be rough.

Fortunately, reports from family around the area seem to show no serious damage and no injuries sustained by kin. I worried when finding a swath of US-41 closed off through Neenah on my drive home last night.

This morning I found an e-mail from Sarah Busse, co-editor of Verse Wisconsin, sitting in my inbox informing me that one of my poems, "Seymour", has found a home in the November online issue of VW. I also have one poem awaiting publication in a print edition of Verse Wisconsin and one poem online at VW's Main Street Wisconsin, a revolving online issue inspired by the Budget Repair Bill protests. They've been wonderful to work with - I've always received some amount of feedback.

Friday, April 1, 2011

National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month's kick-off today, I'm dredging my collection for a spring-time poem to fight against the cold temperature and snow of Northeast Wisconsin's "spring". I originally wrote it after returning home from Rome back in 2008. What are you doing for National Poetry Month?

"Outside, My Father Grows Roses"

Outside, my father grows roses--
Simple enough to decorate our lawn
But not plain enough to help frame your face
By keeping your crashing locks behind your ear.
The busy rococo simply doesn’t fit
The truly beautiful,
But frustrates it with overstimulation.

A fresh tulip is far better suited
To adorn the bower of your sweet-mask
And draw attention to every detail,
Each so worthy of memorization.
I would recite your face in tulip silk,
If the during desert sun would allow.