Tuesday, April 11, 2017

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press April 2017

FEATURED POET: Joan Swift was born Joan Angevine and grew up in Rochester, New York, but has lived most of her life in the Seattle area of Washington State. She holds a B.A. from Duke and an M.A. in English-Creative Writing from the University of Washington. The last two of her four full-length books of poetry, The Dark Path of Our Names and The Tiger Iris, both won the Washington State Governors’ Award. Among her prizes and other awards are three National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Grant, awards from The Washington State Arts Commission, The Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a Pushcart Prize.

You can find her works also featured this month in the Seattle Review of Books

Sand, Rose Petals, Bones

I stand with my feet in the sand
beside the river, knowing the drought
has brought the two shores closer
,
looking between my toes for withered
rose petals, for the white talcum
of your ashes so heavy I saw them drift and sink

like a scarf pulled down in a strong wind.
It was your wish,
this very river, this kind of strewing.

The fracture line between air and water
is only a furrow, always changing,
the plow of separation pulled by a single animal.

Leaving Rio in the Rain

We stand on our separate decks as the lights
of Rio blossom in a misty rain.
I’m sipping vodka near the aqua of the pool.
This is how our lives will be from now on.
You are somewhere totally beyond my saving
while a thousand glowing flights of illumination
climb every hill around the harbor.
I want to go with you. They reflect in the water
where the ship leaves a scallop of wake as it leaves.
And again, lights in the air where each
shimmering drop is a kind of longing
to make descent beautiful, to wrap

whatever kills in tenderness.

WRITE YOUR POEM

With Joan dying not even days ago, I am a loss for words as to what coaching tip to leave.
Her words always offered a haunting, austere elegance in life and now they are imbued with a special glow.  They are offered in reverence.  More than ever, it is time to write your poem.

Poems are first about witness, and second about excellence, or form or line.  You are the only witness to your life.  Write the poems.  Thanks Joan.


Monday, March 6, 2017

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press March 2017

FEATURED POET: CRYSTA CASEY  (1952-2008) was born in Pasadena, California. She graduated from The State University of New York, Stony Brook, in 1976, where she was one of the founding members of The Women Writers Workshop. After college, she became the first woman hired by the City of Irvine, California, in Parks and Maintenance. In 1978, she enlisted in the all-new voluntary military, serving in the U.S. Marine Corps as a journalist, then as a self-declared “Resident Poet” until her honorable discharge under medical conditions in 1980. She moved to Seattle, Washington in the early 1980s, where she studied with the poet Nelson Bentley and collaborated with Esther Altshul Helfgott on the It’s About Time Writers Reading Series. Her first collection of poetry, Heart Clinic, was published in 1993 (Bellowing Ark Press). In 2004 she received a Hugo House Award from Richard Hugo House, and, in 2006, she was a finalist for Seattle Poet Populist. In 2010, Floating Bridge Press brought out a chapbook of her work, Green Cammie. Rules for Walking Out was the last manuscript Crysta completed and approved before her death at the Seattle VA in the spring of 2008. Crysta’s papers are housed in the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections. 

Check out Rules for Walking Out



The V.A.
Saw Tom Lent in the Recreation Room.
He said, “When you paint me again
it’ll be easier. They just took off
my other leg.”

JIM
Jim is a Vietnam Vet. He watches television
and sleeps all day. He eats sporadically.
He doesn’t get out much, but one day decided to go
downtown to the V.A. Regional Office
and make sure he was going to get an American flag
on his coffin. The clerk took down his name
and service #. He came back and said,
“I’m sorry sir, but according to our records
you’re already dead.”

WRITE YOUR POEM!
Distillation may make you think of whiskey or vodka.  In any case it speaks of stripping away everything but the essence.  Distillation, however, does more than strip away.  It changes the corn or potato.  Heat is involved.  One the other side, there has been a transformation.

Strong poems go that way.  You have applied heat.  Made a decision.  Gone through a process.  Yes, you have the essence when you are done, but more than that, you have transformed the reader with words on a page.  Crysta transferred this heat from life to the page.  Write your poem. Dance your dance. 


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press, February 2017

FEATURED WRITER: CHRISTINE FRY is an award-winning screenwriter/producer, and has produced, written, and directed numerous film and TV productions domestically as well as internationally. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts and English.  She is an expert at calling for take-out and has often been voted "Mother of the Year" by two of her three children.  Christine is also a judge for the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Producers Guild of America. She currently lives in Southern California

Connect to Christine at  QOA Entertainment

CHAPTER ONE:
Sometimes Prince Charming is a prince. Sometimes he’s actually a frog. And once in a while, good ‘ole Prince Charming turns out to be a real bastard.
Cameron was a real bastard.
We worked together for about a year at Boltz Hardware and Garden in Martinsburg, West Virginia. I was in lumber. He was in lighting and fixtures. We often exchanged a flirtatious glance or a playful smirk across the aisles, and for a good portion of that time nothing progressed between us because he was dating Karen, one of our coworkers. As luck would have it, she transferred to a management position at a Home Fix-it near Reno, Nevada. I guess long-distance relationships weren’t Cameron’s thing because, within five minutes of her departure, he found me.  He hopped onto the forklift I was operating, and said, “We should start seeing each other.”
Now, if I were thinking clearly, I would’ve run him over with the forklift, and/or have said, “No thank you.” Instead, I stared into his beautiful brown eyes and got lost for a moment and said, “I agree.”
It’s not that I was lonely or desperate, but I had been day-dreaming about Cameron for a while now.  I often fantasized about running my fingers through his wavy chestnut hair or how his warm, firm chest would feel against me or how he would look wearing a suit of armor, galloping his horse across a wide field of green grass in order to save me from a pack of wild animals or a band of ruffians.
I should probably clarify…
Before I took the job at Boltz Hardware, I was a best-selling author. Not bragging- just stating a fact. I’d like to think my books were bestsellers because of the great writing and wonderful character arcs but I’m pretty sure it was because of the sex. People like to read about sex and I’m super gifted at writing those kinds of scenes

WRITE YOUR STORY!
What strikes you as funny?  Do you tell stories at parties?  For your warming up exercise in writing tomorrow write down an event during your day.  Maybe it is picking up your coffee.  Maybe it is a medical procedure.  Write down the facts.  Now revise it as if you need a punchline.  What do you have change?  Write, live, laugh. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press December 2016

FEATURED POET:  Kristine Iredale is currently a student at Eastern Washington University. In 2008, she deployed with the Washington State Army National Guard’s 81st Brigade Heavy Combat Team in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her poems have appeared in O-Dark- Thirty, RiverLit, The Railtown Almanac, and Northwest Boulevard.

DROPPING THE BALL

This field doesn’t have any grass. How she
misses the smell of fresh cut grass.
There is no cheering crowd.
Just a bunch of soldiers
playing softball. Before the cotton candy sky
is swallowed up. She waits her turn at bat.
When Sergeant Chaplain walks up to her.
Be at the BDOC Conference room.
Tomorrow. 0430. She starts to speak.
When he says, “I can’t tell you anymore.”
She goes to the plate. Swings and
not quite gets the meat of the bat on the ball.
So her eye blooms black and blue.
The seam engraved on her cheek bone
as a Lieutenant yells for someone to get some ice.

At 0430, she is told to guard a door
while other soldiers bring in the local interpreters.
This reminds her when she once saw some Indians
netting fish. She is reaching out to her childhood.
Trying to grab onto what is left. --There is a few seconds
where the ball is suspended in the air. When all is quiet
like a mortar right before it hits the ground.
I can tell you. There is no cheering crowd.


DAFFODIL PARADE


A young girl
gets a shot of me.
Old men stand
taking off their hats
placing them
over their hearts.
They bellow,
“thank you for your service”
as women sob silently.

I march in cadence to hallow claps
holding the sign of a fallen comrade
Specialist Nicholas Newby
from Coeur d’Alene Idaho.

We march in four columns
each one representing a death.
War has seen to their blood being pressed out.
Their loved ones tears being pressed out.
Because the removal of moisture
preserves them for a long time to come.

Although the colors, I mean life
will fade slightly during the drying process.
Their lives were cut short
like picked flowers.
Preserved in full bloom-without the chance
to live out their season.

When will we learn?
Pressed flowers are trite
a needless thing.
Then a woman hands me fresh daffodils.

WRITE YOUR POEM!
Break Through
Why do you write on a daily basis?  What's your habits around writing? The habit makes you understand more and more subtle changes.  You grow.  It is with that habit that you suddenly break through and have a new line. 

Write your poem!

Monday, November 7, 2016

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press November 2016

FEATURED POET: Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist's Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize. Her work has been featured on NPR's The Writers Almanac, Verse Daily, and The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Her web site is www.webbish6.com

IN CASE

We were taught in grade school different lessons of survival:
In case of nuclear attack, hide under your desk.
In case of chemical attack, buy duct tape.
Buy a rape whistle. Carry knives. Learn a martial art.

I read old fairy tales, wolves lurking behind trees

and parents ready to kill children. Magic mirrors,
dragons, spells that charm and protect.
Burn this herb to banish ghosts.

Sometimes I imagine the afterlife, puffs of pink

clouds and unicorns, or gold harps, or glass cities
with streets made of emerald. The whole earth
spinning like a child’s marble below, pitiful.

We are told to vaccinate, to educate, to warn.

Traffic tickets, parking signs: bureaucratic safety nets.
Our governments promise safety in exchange for ….
I will light a candle, listen to the solar-charged radio for a sign.


EVERY HUMAN IS A BLACK BOX

We all carry our own map to disaster, the faint voice recordings
that veer from mundane to hysterical in that last moment.
There’s no turnkey solution to us; one person’s milk
is another’s poison; my mother swears green tea gives her hives.

My husband looks up from the field with scratchy throat and red eyes

while I frolic in the goldenrod; at night I toss and wheeze
in the dust of my pillow while he snores dreamlessly.

Our lives have stood, like loaded guns—for one, heart attack

by sauce Alfredo, for another, 101 years of béarnaise and tobacco
troubled by nothing more than mild glaucoma. Some of us
can disregard the warnings; others must cling tightly to directions.

When you slide into the grave, remember your body is a document,

a reminder, a memorial to distant waters, the siren call of cells
to sleep. Turn off. Shut down. Mayday, May Day.

WRITE YOUR POEM!
Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains
Li Bai wrote this poem in the 8th century and it was a zazen .  A Buddhist reminder of our impermanence.  Jeannine reminds us of that in the 21st century with the metaphors of our technology.  What is your intersection with impermanence?  Capture it as honestly as Jeannine.  Write your poem!  Type it in a text to your niece.

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press November 2016

FEATURED POET: Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist's Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize. Her work has been featured on NPR's The Writers Almanac, Verse Daily, and The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Her web site is www.webbish6.com

IN CASE

We were taught in grade school different lessons of survival:
In case of nuclear attack, hide under your desk.
In case of chemical attack, buy duct tape.
Buy a rape whistle. Carry knives. Learn a martial art.

I read old fairy tales, wolves lurking behind trees

and parents ready to kill children. Magic mirrors,
dragons, spells that charm and protect.
Burn this herb to banish ghosts.

Sometimes I imagine the afterlife, puffs of pink

clouds and unicorns, or gold harps, or glass cities
with streets made of emerald. The whole earth
spinning like a child’s marble below, pitiful.

We are told to vaccinate, to educate, to warn.

Traffic tickets, parking signs: bureaucratic safety nets.
Our governments promise safety in exchange for ….
I will light a candle, listen to the solar-charged radio for a sign.


EVERY HUMAN IS A BLACK BOX

We all carry our own map to disaster, the faint voice recordings
that veer from mundane to hysterical in that last moment.
There’s no turnkey solution to us; one person’s milk
is another’s poison; my mother swears green tea gives her hives.

My husband looks up from the field with scratchy throat and red eyes

while I frolic in the goldenrod; at night I toss and wheeze
in the dust of my pillow while he snores dreamlessly.

Our lives have stood, like loaded guns—for one, heart attack

by sauce Alfredo, for another, 101 years of béarnaise and tobacco
troubled by nothing more than mild glaucoma. Some of us
can disregard the warnings; others must cling tightly to directions.

When you slide into the grave, remember your body is a document,

a reminder, a memorial to distant waters, the siren call of cells
to sleep. Turn off. Shut down. Mayday, May Day.

WRITE YOUR POEM!
Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains
Li Bai wrote this poem in the 8th century and it was a zazen .  A Buddhist reminder of our impermanence.  Jeannine reminds us of that in the 21st century with the metaphors of our technology.  What is your intersection with impermanence?  Capture it as honestly as Jeannine.  Write your poem!  Type it in a text to your niece.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

洞月亮 October 2016

FEATURED POET: Jacqueline Berger’s first book, The Mythologies of Danger, won the 1998 Bluestem Award and  Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award. Her second book, Things That Burn, selected by Mark Strand, was the 2004 winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize and was published through the University of Utah Press. The Gift That Arrives Broken was the 2010 winner of the Autumn House Poetry Prize. Broadstone Press will publish her fourth book in 2018. Her poetry has been regularly featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac.  She directs the graduate program in English at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California, and lives in San Francisco with her husband.

You can contact her at jacquelineberger.com


REMAINS

Because the cassettes jostling in the wooden box
as I carry them to the dumpster
sound like horses returning to the stable—
what else can I do with them,
they can’t be recycled and who even
has anything to play them on,
each recorded by my father off an album
before those too were hauled to the garbage—
because replacement is the truest thing we know;
because I can’t bring myself to toss the tapes
so leave them beside the can, hoping someone
will want them; because the next day
they’re gone, and I wonder if right now
that person is listening to them on the last
remaining player in America,
or if, and just as likely, a neighbor
while dumping her own trash dumped the box of tapes,
tidying the alley, each freeing itself as it fell, Hebrew Melodies
banging against How to Belly Dance
before landing on the festering heap,
Noam Chomsky’s 1986 lecture languishing there.
Because the tapes are gone but not the carousels of slides—
how many pictures of flowers and mountains?
Because my father is still a mystery,
though what he left behind was briefly mine,
because I did not want to know my father
or my father did not want to be known,
because the clues solve nothing, so what
can I do but scatter the remains? 

Jacqueline Berger 
WHAT ISN'T

Maybe it’s more a sense than a feeling,
or even a scent, unidentified 
weed that smells like curry 
and grew in the Hollywood Hills
where I went to camp and grows 
on San Bruno where we take the dog, 
the smell taking me back.
Nostalgia’s a bad shorthand but it’s something.
Or maybe it’s like lowering into a hot bath, 
the almost sorrow that rises with the steam,
though tenderness is even worse than nostalgia.
I’m off to a bad start, but let’s go with curry
in dry September, what I’m getting at
is how these days and for some time
I feel a pulling away even in the midst.
Driving to work, I’m already done 
with the calendar of busyness, 
people needing things from me, 
have already moved into the spacious years, 
the luxury and loneliness of Monday
and nowhere to be. Even as I’m pulling
into the parking lot, finding a spot,
hanging the employee placard from the rearview,
I’m long into the drifting of its after,
the wet sand of its soft mornings, my old
identity, ambition, unhooked.

And early evening on our walks up the mountain,
past the shell mound, past Owl Canyon,
on to Acres and through the top of town
before looping back to the car, 
the dog is gone and I miss him
who is, at this moment, burrowing in the brush 
or scratching his back against its rough.
I feel death’s empty room,
fluorescent hum in place of the low chant
all life if you listen carefully emits.
Will we get another dog, weighing
our modes of escape against the pinning down
of daily walks, burrs pulled from the tail.
And you too are gone, even in the middle 
of our lives, even as you drive us home,
the dog in the back seat sleeping like the child
we never had. Why do you die first?
How else to keep telling the story?
I’m alone and not young, then old,
the scent of burning leaves or rubbish,
acrid and sweet, spit thickening
in the corners of my mouth.
Is this a feeling that should be treated,
or is it a tapping into?
I won’t call it anxiety, depression,
will call it the open window,
the train’s thin whistle bending into the curve,
is it lament or the physics of sound?
Will call it here and also gone,
it will answer to both
like a dog with a previous owner
who learned himself by one name and then another.
Will call and call but there is no answer,
and that will be the answer, 
the doesn’t matter of its either way.

Jacqueline Berger 

                                   f

WRITE YOUR POEM


Because the cassettes jostling in the wooden box
as I carry them to the dumpster
sound like horses returning to the stable—

because the clues solve nothing, so what
can I do but scatter the remains?

What is the scale of your simile?  At what point do you introduce another metaphor?

The beauty of what Jacqueline has given us is the quiet noise of cassette tapes rattling compared to a thundering herd of horses.  Just let the juxtaposition of those noises wash over you.  She then threads the thundering horses through the intimate and fragile questions.  

Then the final line puts us at a funeral.  No sound.   Simply ashes.   Look through your poem.  What is the scale of your word comparisons?  A music box against a calliope?  Look at your efforts.  Look at Jacqueline's.  Write your poem.  Cut apart a cereal box and write it on the inside in Sharpie marker and nail it to a telephone pole