My Essay “Thirty-Five Years Later, I Raise My Hand” is featured on Alison McGhee’s excellent Words by Winter podcast.

I’m delighted to report that this essay is featured in Alison McGhee’s Words by Winter podcast.

If you haven’t listened to Alison’s podcasts, you’re in for a treat! Yes, they focus on poetry, but there’s much more. Spend some time with her.

Thirty-Five Years Later, I Raise My Hand

In spring 1983 I enrolled in a poetry writing course thinking it might help improve my short fiction. I was a history major by default, had never taken a course in poetry, but believed, with absolutely no evidence, that I could write fiction. At the time I would have been hard-pressed to name five contemporary poets, even counting my professor. To be honest, the class struggled to hold my attention. Only about a quarter of the students seemed interested in writing, and the instructor was a bit, uh, tired. But for the first time in my life I read, really read, poetry. I fell in love with Galway Kinnell, Ai, James Wright and Carolyn Forche, to name just a few of my early enthusiasms. I wanted to write like them. So I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Most of it was laughably bad, but somehow I managed to win an undergraduate poetry contest, which suggested that hope existed. Maybe someday, I thought, one of my poems will be published. This radical idea had never occurred to me before. Publication seemed to be the privilege of special people, and a lifetime of gathered fact revealed that I was unequivocably nothing special.

Early on in the semester, perhaps even in the first class, the professor asked how many of us thought we’d still be writing poetry in twenty years. I didn’t raise my hand. I didn’t know where I’d be in six months, much less what I’d be doing in twenty years. Since I’d realized late in the game that teaching was not for me, I had no job prospects, and few marketable skills, despite experience in chugging beer, manning sound-powered phones on a ship’s helicopter tower, scraping barnacles and bending rules. The world was limited. The world was limitless.

Another gray day

dividing the old and young

Oh, this aching hip!

* * *

My Poem “Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon” is on Other People’s Flowers Podcast

My poem “Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon” is featured on the Podcast Other People’s Flowers. I’ve never heard this poem read by someone else. It’s good to hear a different voice. Many thanks to Hugo Gibson for recording this version. You may find the podcast at these various links:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/other-peoples-flowers/id1351210915?mt=2https://www.podbean.com/podcast-detail/tw73f-672dc/Other-People’s-Flowers-Podcasthttps://anchor.fm/other-peoples-flowershttps://player.fm/series/series-2182071https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/other-peoples-flowers

Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon

                                         for Lissa

1
Tilt your head and laugh
until the night bends
and I see only you.

2
Weave the wind into a song.
Rub its fabric over your skin.
For whom does it speak?

3
Remove all stars and streetlights.
Remove thought, remove voice.
Remove me. But do not remove yourself.

4
Tear the clouds into threads
and place them in layered circles.
Then breathe slowly into my ear.

5
Drink deeply. Raise your eyes to the brightness
above the cedars. Observe their motion
through the empty glass. Repeat.

6
Talk music to me. Talk conspiracies
and food and dogs and rain. Do this
under the wild night sky.

7
Harvest red pollen from the trees.
Cast it about the room
and look through the haze.

8
From the bed, gaze into the mirror.
The reflection you see is the darkness
absorbing your glow.

9
Fold the light around us, and listen.
You are the moon in whose waters
I would gladly drown.

* * *

First posted in October 2014, and again on Valentine’s Day in 2016, 2017 and 2018, “Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon” also appears in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform. Coincidentally, my poem is paired with one by Veronica Haunani Fitzhugh, with whom I am acquainted via this blog and the Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge. I’m very pleased and proud to have my poem read alongside hers.