Poems in a Pandemic: My Turn?

MY TURN?
by Jane Muir

My mother, as a child, was sick one weekend and didn’t visit her grandparents.
That weekend their house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.
Both grandparents died in the fire.
I grew up with a fear of lightening.

My father, as a very young man in Scotland went to sea
As a cabin boy or whatever lowly job was available.
When one voyage finished, he took another
But missed the one to India
That boat sank before it reached Gibraltar
The whole crew perished.

And now I and all my children
Face our own dire threat—
Not a lightening strike
Nor a leaky boat

But someone
In China who
Ate a
Bat.

Poems in a Pandemic: Pandemic Epic

PANDEMIC EPIC
by Norman Thomas Marshall

A POEM IN WHICH THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS HAILED AS A

VISITATION UPON A WORLD OF SIN NOT YET READY TO RECEIVE

THE MESSIAH OPENLY AND FREELY SO THEREFORE THE WOLRD

STUMBLES BLINDLY– IN, AMONG AND AGAINST EACH OTHER AND

WE HAVE SOMETHING TO CONSTANTLY TALK ABOUT WITHOUT

ANYTHING GETTING SAID.

That’s it?

No shit?

Gotta git.

Poems in a Pandemic: Awake

AWAKE
by Patricia Horn O’Brien

Despite my bamboo blind
clattering up, despite my elbow
seeking my fallen strap

to send it to my shoulder’s
angled quest, despite my eyelids,
aflutter with my window’s

close offer of a sparrow’s
still curiosity, she and I stare
each other into the speck of this hour,

neither she nor I adding anything
but the slender tether we allow. I
awake to how the sparrow

and I are in it
together. She, awake,
and without a word about It.

Ekphrastic May: Poems from Home

Stuck at home during COVID-19, members of the Guilford Poets Guild recently engaged in an ekphrastic exercise of writing poems inspired by works of art in their own homes. Similar to seeing rooms on Zoom, these poems offer a unique and intimate glimpse into the lives of these local poets.

Ekphrastic poetry is a response to a visual work of art, often a vivid, dramatic work that takes a painting, sculpture, or other artwork as its inspiration.

In June, GPG poets will be writing about COVID-19, and their reflections on the pandemic. Stay tuned!

 

Ekphrastic May: Heist

Heist
by Jen Payne

I drove the get-away car that day,
left it on idle in the parking space
closest to the electronic OUT door
of Porter’s Grocery there in Alpine.

It was a bright Texas day, hot,
the car angled in shade enough
for a clear-on view of the lobby,
bulletin board, handbills, and tacks.

We’d scoped out the joint before,
cased the aisles for jerky
and a bottle of wine for dinner
back in Marfa at the Thunderbird.

There was a nice patio
outside our room with blue lights
like the alien spaceships
you could see there sometimes?

Funny things in that part of Texas:
spaceships and meteors,
a roadside Prada shoe outlet,
Chinati’s take on art, and ours.

Ours was her, Viva Terlingua!
in her sunset-red cowboy hat,
hand-strung turquoise beads, and
that witty West Texas smile.

It’s a smile that says just about all
you want to say about West Texas,
about the wild Trans-Pecos
and its wide expanse of stars.

It’s a promise of whiskey at La Kiva,
or hot coffee while the sun rises
over Terlingua and Study Butte
over Big Bend and the Rio Grande.

It’s a smile that remembers solitude,
the promise of oddity and isolation,
of community, maybe, companionship —
two friends on the road laughing.

It’s the awesome sound a car makes solo
on a nighttime desert highway,
or peeling out from the Porter’s,
Viva Terlingua! rolled up in the back seat.


Viva Terlingua! was featured on a 2010 poster from the Original Terlingua Chili Championship. The artwork is by Texas-based artist Frank X. Tolbert 2. You can see more of his amazing work on his website, here. The Original Terlingua Chili Championship ( link ) was started in 1967 by his father Frank X. Tolbert Sr. and a group of local men. Special thanks to his daughter, Kathleen Ryan, for filling in these details on a recent serendipitous Saturday.

Get Ready for Poem in Your Pocket Day!

TOMORROW IS POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY!
Poem in Your Pocket Day takes place every year on a day in National Poetry Month. On this day, select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, street corners, and on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

It’s easy to carry a poem, share a poem, or start your own Poem in Your Pocket Day event. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:

  • Start a poem giveaway in your school or workplace
  • Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  • Memorize a poem
  • Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite lines of poetry
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post lines from your favorite poem on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest
  • Send a poem to a friend

Poem in Your Pocket Day was initiated in April 2002 by the Office of the Mayor in New York City, in partnership with the city’s Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all fifty United States, encouraging individuals around the country to participate. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada.

Poet Elizabeth Possidente

In celebration of National Poetry Month, members of the Guilford Poets Guild were invited to share their thoughts about poetry and the life of a poet. Here’s what Elizabeth Possidente had to say:

How did you come to being a poet?
I think “being” a poet was underlying everything I have done with my life and I suppose that wasn’t practical. While I identified myself in other ways over the years, poet was always lurking in the shadows, lifting me along. My mother read and sang poems all the time to us as children and I have done the same with mine and my grandchildren.

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
I wish I could. I have a very bad memory. I made up songs to my cat and others.

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
Hmmm. It seems I am writing all the time something, be it a letter an email, poem elements. I wrote all the time in my work life. I love to putter in my garden, be in nature, to play my flute and sing with others. I play chamber music with a wonderful group, and have sung in various choruses since childhood. I am learning to play guitar a bit and bass recorder as an adjustment to my hearing impairments. I teach Yoga still, dance, do Chigong, Tai’chi. I draw some, but gave my paints to my daughter-in-law.

What has been the defining moment in your life as a poet/writer?
Although I had thought college was my leap to becoming a writer, I went in other directions. In my professional life I wrote all the time and used poetry as one modality to help others express or frame their experiences. Joining some poetry workshops later in life convinced me that this was how I wished to express myself in a less ephemeral way than dance/movement or music. Then, having the opportunity to read my poems at a memorial for a dear poet friend slid me into saying to myself that perhaps I really was a poet. How grateful I am to Edwina Trentham whose presence and workshops inspired and enlightened me. Presenting my poems at readings at the Clinton Art Gallery and the Guilford Library for GPG have been real boosters.

How long have you been a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and what’s that like?
I think I have been a member for three years now. This is an injection of plasma and red blood, mixed with laughter and intrinsic tears. Challenges. I love these people. Rising chi always. Arms around them all.

What inspires your writing today?
Life life and life. Ordinary, lush and tragic life. My own history, nature, family, and people around me. Everything and anything. Witness. Reflection.

Describe your poem-writing process. Where do you like to write?
Moments. Sensations. Feelings. Words. Memories. It can happen any time. Or not. Over coffee, on a walk, in the shower or off to bed. Paper scraps are essential, backs of envelopes. I write by hand in a journal, and after some reflection and composting the poem will evolve to my computer, and then another part of my brain steps in. It is like my cooking. Messy. And when a poem isn’t there, it just isn’t.

Where do you like to write? With what?
I write most at my kitchen/dining table in a sort of greenhouse where the light is wonderful and nature is just a glance away. I am surrounded with papers of all sorts, plants and the smells of kitchen and sometimes bustle. But otherwise I write anywhere on anything. I use a found pen to write and an old MacBook Air which I am afraid to update. Computer space is outer space as far as I am concerned but connects with another part of my brain

Who are you favorite poets and authors?
This may depend on the season or the year. Emily of course, G.M Hopkins, Naomi Shahib Nye, Wm Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Dr Seuss, Rumi and Tracy K Smith. Barbara Kingsolver, Sy Montgomery and others.

What book are you currently reading? (poetry or not)
I am always reading several:
The Overstory by Richard Powers just finished
As well as The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery
Writing About Your Life by William Zinsser
The Open Heart A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus by Dali Lama
Writers and Lovers by Lily King


Elizabeth Possidente, MA has returned to poetry after many years of jotting on envelopes, paper scraps etc while she worked as a Creative Arts Therapist and raised a family. She has published articles in her field and in the Connecticut River Review. She is a member of the Guilford Poets Guild.