Coming up to the spring, our first poet from Massachusetts today describes a local May Day festival and how her family missed it.
Then a serious poem from Charlie Gracie, writtten in a collaboration with Irish sculptor Brendan McGloin, as a memorial to those who died in a hotel fire in 1980.
Nikki Anne Schmutz from Utah offers a poem that seems more dispirited but in a more light-hearted way, using repetition and exaggeration to get her message home.
After these we need something a little more laid back, perhaps this small irrestible piece of philosophy from my friend the late Angus Calder, about perceptions of the outside world, and how the glory of it all makes up for a “razory edge of cold”
You can check out all these fine poets by looking them up.
Please send more poems folks: I can solicit poems but it would be nice to have plenty coming in the email inbox email@example.com (first published at least 3 years ago please).
All that week on the school bus
there was chatter of the fair,
the maypole dance,
A white elephant table with mothers in aprons
before a spread of pitchers and teapots
some chipped, some as new
as when they sat in their boxes on Christmas
nestled in white tissue.
The playground was full of talk
of hot dogs, popcorn,
Square dancing on the asphalt,
fat peppermint sticks in whole lemons
so you could suck up the tart
through a read and white candy straw.
Nickels and quarters
tucked onto my plastic pocketbook
tangles combed out of my hair
I waited on the front stoop
for my father to fetch me.
He came at last,
and when our Plymouth pulled up at school
people strolled to the streetcar down the block
Or ambled home.
There was no fete.
Rows of empty chairs lined up before the bandstand,
the ground was strewn with scraps of crepe paper.
A mother at the grab bag stand
nearly finished packing up
handed me a small paper sack
a Chinese finger puzzle—consolation prizes.
I knew enough not to complain.
That night, I dreamed the maypole,
the older girls weaving their streamers in and our
to the music of the sixth grade band.
I dreamed the sweep peppermint stick
and slant of sunlight on my father,
seated, head tilted back,
eyes closed as if in prayer.
First published in Meat for Tea: the Valley Review, in February 2013.
8 August 1980
a memorial to those who died in the Central Hotel,
Bundorran, County Donegal
It is not just memory,
sparks in fracured light,
spearing the dark of night-time.
It is not just an old grief
settled into our hearts
for lives ended, for lives only started.
It is not just the jostle
of busy summer streets
and the laughs of friends that meet here.
It is the love continuing
Commissioined by Bundorran Town Coucil in 2009, and also published in Good Morning, diehard 2010
Nikki Ann Schmutz
What I am
Tired of everything I am
Tired of thinking of what I could be
Tired of believing that I’ll make it there one day
Wasted by every word
Wasted by defending my worth
Wasted by wanting to trust and not being able
Alone with my thoughts
Alone with an empty, lonely soul
Alone despite all the others that surround me
Empty of life
Empty of feelings within
Empty in all the places I wish I could fill
Fighting the years
Fighting the scraps of fears
Fighting the tears that make the river within
Longing for love
Longing for a touch
Longing for a moment I can believe in
Dying in my soul
Dying in an immense wilderness
Dying from a thirst I can’t quite quench
Flying far away
Flying far into the black
Flying farther than the pin pricks of stars
This poem originally won 1st place in the Trading Moon Poetry Contest Fall 2006 and was published online on www.tradingmoon.com (the website is no more)
You think you could reach
across the Forth and touch
poppies in the Fife fields.
Roses appear huge as
Trees wear russet flecks
as if dressed up
for a night at the opera.
The light is so rich
with generous details
that a razory edge
of cold in the air
seems not so important.
Published in Waiting in Waikato, diehard publishers 1997.
The view is of Edinburgh from Bread Street, where Angus
was living at the time and where our bookshop was too.