Two Poems – kjmunro



no northern lights
stars
winking




patches of sun
across the valley
defined by shadow


Originally from Vancouver, BC, kjmunro moved to the Yukon Territory in 1991. Her debut poetry collection is contractions (Red Moon Press, 2019), & her work has recently been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Find her at: kjmunro1560.wordpress.com

Three Poems – Rob Taylor



in the temple
hearing the warbler’s
black beak



reminding myself
the trees are not paintbrushes…
it’s almost winter



come on, hummingbird!
I’d like to get a little
work done too


Rob Taylor‘s fourth poetry collection, Strangers, was published in April 2021 by Biblioasis. He is also the editor of What the Poets Are Doing: Canadian Poets in Conversation (Nightwood Editions, 2018) and guest editor of Best Canadian Poetry 2019 (Biblioasis, 2019). http://roblucastaylor.com

Ginkgo Trees – Jared Beloff

Ginkgo Trees

I know I am supposed to feel something
about changing leaves, peep and awe
over how green goes to gold or dying flames.

Yet, dishes yellow in the sink. Work fans out unfinished.
Trash bags sit by the door waiting to be walked,
to relieve themselves again before I draw a bath to end the day.

My mind walks down side streets, to the rows of ginkgo
trees spilling their fruit in rancid, broken dollops of flesh
swelling over seed. Each leaf is a distracting golden death

held close to branch and stem until, as if choosing their moment,
the trees let their leaves fall, dropping their robes to step naked,
ugly and unashamed into the cold bath of near winter air.


Jared Beloff is a teacher and poet who lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two daughters. You can find his work in The Westchester Reviewlittledeathlit, and the forthcoming issues of Contrary Magazine, Gyroscope Review and others. 

Three Poems – Darrell Petska



the grass blade’s slow sag
at ant’s leisurely crossing
thus goes sun’s day


our little one sleeps—
whispers, tiptoes, hush the cat
moonlight’s goodnight kiss



welcoming the sun
a million dust motes turn up
cloud whisks them away


Darrell Petska is a retired communications editor, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Journals that have published his poetry include Red Alder Review, Modern Haiku, Chrysanthemum, Shamrock Haiku Journal, Failed Haiku–Journal of English Senryu, and many others (see conservancies.wordpress.com). Forty years a father (eight years a grandfather), and longer as a husband, Darrell lives outside Madison, Wisconsin.

Two Poems – Ivanka Fear

A Photo of Us

I walked by the china cabinet today, seeing for the umpteenth time
the wooden piece that holds our fancy dishes and glassware,
too ‘good’ to be used every day.
And I wondered what we were saving them for.
Just pieces, that’s all they are, of porcelain,
like that doll your grandma passed down,
too valuable for the kids to play with,
worth a small fortune on eBay now.
Just pieces, of delicate bone, taking up space,
like the collectible dolls in our display cabinet
that remind me of when the kids were little —
too breakable to take out, too fragile to hold.
Cut crystal, the glasses sparkling in the light,
never used to toast to our happiness.
Lead crystal, the bowls collecting dust,
never having held anything more than empty air.
And I looked up, way up, to the top,
past the fine wedding gifts sitting idle,
to a simple plastic mug I’d long forgotten.
A souvenir, with a photo of the two of us.
When were we ever that young?
Well used, I’d say we’ve been,
you and I.


My Heart’s in the Right Place

The fall almost broke me.
But you didn’t break my heart.
You held it in the palm of your hand and crushed it
like a dry leaf, your fingers releasing it to the wind.
But my heart kept beating, weakened, yes,
colder, yes, having been in your wintry grip and tossed
like a snowball, breaking into pieces.
But I didn’t allow it to harden to ice.
Instead, I poured my heart out and let it melt
into a puddle as a spring breeze lifted me.
And my heart soared toward the sun.

His heartwarming embrace brought me back to life,
his heart of gold renewed my faith,
my heartbeat grew stronger as we held hands
and walked together through the garden,
bleeding hearts breaking through the cold ground
next to the Everlasting Mix of tulips.
In the heart of summer’s heat,
waves crash breaking down hearts of stone
leaving behind grains of sparkling sand,
and as we stroll as one, arm in arm, along the shore,
my heart skips a beat across the deep blue sea.
For from the depths of my heart, I know
what’s crushed can be even more beautiful —
all it takes is a change of heart.
And so, I fall again.


Ivanka Fear is a former teacher now pursuing her passion for writing. Her poems and short stories appear in Spadina Literary Review, Montreal Writes, Adelaide Literary, October Hill, Scarlet Leaf Review, The Sirens Call, The Literary Hatchet, Understorey, Aphelion, Muddy River Poetry Review, and elsewhere.

Two Poems – Ceinwen Haydon

Coquet

For brief hours, between rockpools, sandways
open up. Midday, low tide, her feet splash though
clouds floating in brine on beached ground
that belongs metres below the waves.

Her eyes, caught by the sideways flit of a black shag,
settle on Coquet’s outcrop, its bleached lighthouse erect
and almost touchable today. She mulls on crossing over-sea,
the islet seems so near. To swim or wade. Yet the true question

is she strong enough or will she drown? Moments pass fast
In her mind she plunges deep – feet rooted she’s surprised
to find she’s stuck, manacled by stinking bladderwrack
on singing, sinking sands, with empty razor shells,
barnacled, rocky stones and decimated crabs.

He’d always press.
Say, ‘Go’, when she’d hold back.

Nearby, sea-coal dust fans in delicate arrays,
pointillist gestures of encouragement.
She falters as the tide turns
placing temptation
out of reach.


m y – s e l f

m y – s e l f splinters in sunlight
scatters amongst leaves in breezes
is washed down drains in autumn storms
m y – s e l f withers under scrutiny of headlights
dances and dreams with grey ghosts at break of dawn
rears up affronted when shivered by scorn
m y – s e l f is nothing in pretence of everything
is proven in kindness corrupted by altruism
bound by imagined concepts stark lines on my aging face
m y – s e l f was once young fair yet unaware
is all the assumptions made by me and others
reactive and proactive compliant and defiant
m y – s e l f kaleidoscopes into dizziness when
stunned I try to contemplate my darkened navel
scarred by surgery three births and mid-life fires
m y – s e l f merges into tribal waters forebears
join descendants and my myriad selves
as yet unborn circulate still stardust in Kali’s eyes

at the end of m y – s e l f by my woodland grave,
my tribe gathers to see m y – s e l f splinter in sunlight
bed down in mossy earth settle self-less into loamy soil



Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon writes short stories and poetry. She’s been published on-line and in print. She is a Forward and Pushcart Prize nominee (2019), and she believes everyone’s voices count.

Blue in the Face – Brian Beatty

Blue in the Face

If anything is true I fear
it’s that we’re too late for anything more
than the simplest prayers.

Ask only for normalcy
if possible. Or to improve your odds
pray for less.


Brian Beatty is the author of the poetry collections Magpies and Crows; Borrowed Trouble;
Dust and Stars: Miniatures
; Brazil, Indiana: A Folk Poem; and Coyotes I Couldn’t See.
Hobo Radio
, a spoken-word album of Beatty’s poems featuring original music by Charlie Parr, was released by Corrector Records in January 2021. Beatty lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

An Interview with Rob Taylor

ROB TAYLOR is the author of four poetry collections, including Strangers (Biblioasis, 2021) and The News (Gaspereau Press, 2016), which was a finalist for the 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Rob is also the editor of What the Poets are Doing: Canadian Poets in Conversation (Nightwood Editions, 2018) and the guest editor of Best Canadian Poetry 2019 (Biblioasis, 2019). Rob’s poems, short stories and essays have appeared in more than 50 journals and anthologies. In 2014 he was named one of the inaugural writers-in-residence at the Al Purdy A-frame, and in 2015 he received a City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for the Literary Arts. Rob lives with his wife and children in Port Moody, BC, on the unceded territories of the Kwikwetlem, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh peoples. Visit Rob’s website at roblucastaylor.com.  


Michael Edwards: Let’s start off by discussing your new collection, Strangers (Biblioasis, 2021). On the publisher’s website, your book is described as reintroducing the epiphany poem. In thinking of this kind of poem, I’m reminded of a radio interview in which Paul Muldoon made the statement that poems should be “revelatory.” He explained that a reader should come away from a poem having learned something new. So, if this sense of discovery makes for a good and memorable poem, how does the epiphany poem accomplish this? Is it that the reader experiences this revelation concurrent to the speaker of the poem? What can you say about that?

Rob Taylor: That line about epiphanies was cooked up by my editor, Luke Hathaway. To suggest a poem is epiphanic is to suggest it’s successful (very successful, I suppose), and I wouldn’t have the nerve to assume that about my own stuff. I do appreciate that Luke sees that in my poems. It’s not something I aim for— I don’t purpose-build a poem as a little epiphany machine. My guess is the reader would pick up on it and feel too obviously manipulated (though I’m sure I’ve been fooled many times). Regardless, there’s no joy for me in getting someone to feel something that I’m not feeling myself.

I write poems to try to make sense of my life. I take a moment that strikes me, or nags at me, and run it through poetry’s arcane devices: compression, rhythm, rhyme, etc. If, alongside the music, some insight or clarity or valuable complication comes out of the process, then that poem has a decent chance of showing up in a book someday. So the revelation is always mine, and I’m hopeful when I publish it that it might become my reader’s, too.

ME: You’re a writer, interviewer and teacher, and I think it’s fair to say, one who is deeply involved in and cares for the poetry community. April each year is National Poetry Month and you have been involved with Read Local BC. In the context of British Columbia, what are some things happening in poetry, despite the pandemic we’re all still dealing with, that excite you and bring you hope as we think of a post-pandemic world?

RT: One thing the pandemic can’t touch is the poems. I love being a member of the Canadian/BC/Vancouver poetry communities, and COVID has driven home just how important it is for me to see friendly faces at readings from time to time. But really, my foundational love is with the words on the page: I open a poetry book while sitting at a park bench, or on my couch under lamplight after the kids are asleep, and I have everything I need.

Right now in BC we have an abundance of new, young writers. Or, I should say, an abundance of publisher interest in putting out first books by BC poets—the poets were always there, but the publishers are the ones with the hand on the spigot. We’re blessed to have presses like Harbour/Nightwood, Caitlin, Arsenal Pulp, Talon, Anvil, etc. steadily releasing titles by BC poets. Each year, it’s getting harder for me to pick my interviews for the Read Local BC series (both the poet and publisher must be based in BC)—there are too many options! It’s a great problem to have. Watching everyone rally around local bookstores to keep them afloat at the start of the pandemic was inspiring too (as are current reports that sales remain up one year into things).

My curmudgeonly grump about the writing world is that so much of it revolves around awards and grants and festivals and such, and so little is about actually buying and reading and discussing the books. (Pop over to Twitter: whenever a poet posts a cover reveal or an award win, the little red “like” hearts pile up. When they post an actual poem, not so much…) I think the isolation of the pandemic caused a lot of people to slow down, and perhaps turn to that stack of books on their nightstand more frequently. I know it did for me. The thought of all those additional moments of writer-reader connection pleases me to no end.

ME: Perhaps connected to the last question, I’m thinking of your elegiac Heaney poem from your new collection, titled “Weather in Dublin.” Reading the piece brought to mind the notion of the function of poetry in the world and the public role of the poet. This made me think of W.H. Auden’s poem “Memory of W.B. Yeats” with the famous phrase, “poetry makes nothing happen.” This line is so often brought up in talking about poetry’s place in society. Were you thinking of this at all as you wrote this poem? And what do you see as the function of poetry within the public sphere?

RT: I love that connection, between Auden’s poem for Yeats and my poem for Heaney. I wish I’d made it myself! But no, I wasn’t thinking about that, not consciously. It was up there, I’m sure, alongside WC Williams’ “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there” (“Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”). In “Weather in Dublin,” I was recording events as they happened: the night of that deluge in Vancouver, Heaney really was dying on the other side of the planet (he died at 7:30 am, which was 11:30 pm in Vancouver). We woke to the aftermath of the flooding and the news of Heaney’s death.

Strangers is preoccupied with how our intimate lives and relationships are intertwined with art and literature that’s produced by “strangers.” Our families are stitched together by, and therefore come to include, this art, even if that process only takes place in our individual minds. That day was a great example: Heaney, and the wake of his death, were really only on that Vancouver street in my mind, but the two became inseparably bound as I greeted my neighbours and together we surveyed the damage. The continuation of that Auden quote is “it survives / In the valley of its making”, and I think that probably speaks to “Weather in Dublin” and Strangers as well as anything.

Strangers (Biblioasis, 2021)

ME: Haiku is present in all of your published, full-length collections, including this new one. You always seem to be working with haiku in interesting ways, for example, in your 2016 book, The News (Gaspareau Press), you incorporate haiku from Basho and Issa into the middle of a poem called “Fourteen Weeks,” which reads in an almost glosa-like fashion. Could you tell me about your interest in the form?

RT: Since the pandemic started, I’ve written haiku almost exclusively, and have accumulated a few hundred at this point (maybe twenty that are any good! It’s fun to feel like a total amateur again.) My haiku sequence in my first book, The Other Side of Ourselves, starts “I can’t help but hate haiku / they end abruptly / just as they’re getting”, so it’s certainly been a journey to where I am now! Though, truthfully, I was drawn to haiku even then.

I had a real love-hate relationship with minimalist writing when I was young: in high school I printed out a copy of WC Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” and carried it around in my wallet, while also rolling my eyes at the thought of it being one of the “greatest poems of all time.” It felt too easy, too random. I now know that’s both true and untrue: it takes great skill and training to consistently write high-quality minimalist poetry (as Bashō, and Issa, and Williams did), but at the same time just about anyone can, on a fortunate day, stumble upon the right sequence of words (considering there’s sometimes only six or seven of them!). I think I used to find that distasteful—at a time when I was working so hard to learn the craft, it felt like cheating—but now it seems pretty wonderful.

ME: How does this awareness of haiku as a form influence your overall writing practice?

RT: Reading, writing and teaching haiku has taught me a great deal. First and foremost: compression. There’s something about the vast majority of lyric poems that feels a bit flabby (I want to say my lyric poems, but having just read so much for Best Canadian Poetry 2019, I can speak more broadly with a bit of confidence). It’s not that the poems always feature unnecessary words, but that the need to serve both sound and sense pushes back a bit against visual (or intellectual) precision. I turn to haiku to sharpen my precision—to strip a poem down to its most basic components and see what’s really there. Often what’s there is more than enough.

Haiku also teaches fundamental lessons about how poems move. A successful haiku grounds you concretely in the world (in a traditional haiku, a kigo, or “season word,” instantly sets your poem in a particular time and, often, place), and then in some way disrupts that world (traditional haiku feature a kireji, or “cutting word,” often represented in English haiku by an em dash or ellipsis): the poem is somehow broken up, or taken some place new (in the mind, if not the body). In certain ways this overlaps with the volta in a sonnet, the leap between stanzas in a ghazal, or the gap between the prose section and the haiku in a haibun. There’s something profoundly pleasing about feeling stabilized and then destabilized—standing on firm ground, and then using that firm ground to push off, landing somewhere different. No form explores this “leap” more efficiently than the haiku, and I take great pleasure in exploring that type of movement.

ME: Your new book also contains poems accumulated during your 2016 residency at the Al Purdy A-Frame. A chapbook, The Green Waves: Poems from Roblin Lake (845 Press, 2019), included poems you wrote during that tenure. How important has this type of long, concentrated writing time been for you in your creative practice?

RT: To me, the big thing about larger stretches of writing time, be they induced by a residency, a grant, the pursuit of a degree, or simply by the decision to make that space in your life, is permission. Some writers don’t need this—they don’t need the validity of their art to be affirmed, from time to time, by some outside (or internal) party. Bless those confident people, but I’m not one of them. I scramble through life making (or not making) my little poems, oscillating between excitement and despair as one does, and then—if I’m lucky—some space-making, life-affirming opportunity comes along, and it feels like finally emerging from a cave or deep-sea dive and breathing deep the fresh air.

At the A-frame, not only did I receive the boost that comes with any residency, but once word got out that my wife and I were bringing an eight-month old baby with us, a number of community members volunteered their services as baby-walkers. You want to feel like your writing matters? Have a stranger show up and take your fussy baby for a few hours, specifically so you can write some more.That motivated me a great deal at the time, and when I think back on it now (a community that rallies together to support poets!), it motivates me still.

ME: One of the ways lyric poetry operates is to revolve around feeling and emotion, communicated by the poet and experienced by the reader. In your book, “Oh Not So Great” Poems from the Depression Project, you gathered voices and words of others, as found poems, creatively conveying their language, which is the language of a diversity of people in their experiences with depression. As mental health is a significant issue, particularly in the midst of this pandemic, I’m wondering how you see the interaction of poetry and mental health now.

RT: What a question! For me, poetic language is deeply tied to the body. In its compressed, leaping, fragmentary movements, a poem thinks the way we think (“Poetry is the shape and size of the mind. It works the way the mind works.” – Kay Ryan). And in its repetitions and rhythms, its intuitive interest in sound as well as sense, poetic language functions as an extension of the body on the page (Robert Pinsky calls this a “somatic ghost”). This is why, to my mind, when a poem “clicks” with you, it’s a vastly more intimate, intuitive, elusive experience (felt more than thought) than the experience one has in reading say, great fiction or non-fiction. It’s also why poetry is so hit and miss for people, and often leaves readers cold—poetry is a leap across the page from one body to another, and that will always be a reckless and imperfect art.

Though I wouldn’t have described it in these terms at the time, these ideas sat at the heart of the Depression Project: how can we “wake up” physicians to the lived experience of their patients, and how can we help people living with depression feel truly seen, feel like they’re encountering another living, breathing person on the page—a companion on their journey through illness. During the pandemic, poetry’s ability to connect two people across the page has been vital for me, as I’m sure it has for many readers. When you connect deeply with a poem, you feel less alone. Because, on some very real level inside your mind and your body, you are.


Michael Edwards is editor of Red Alder Review. He lives and writes in Vancouver, British Columbia on the traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people.

Submissions – Issue No. 2

Red Alder Review is now open to submissions for Issue No. 2 (Spring/Summer).

Deadline: April 30, 2021.

For this upcoming issue, the focus is on any and all poetic modes of writing. Formally speaking, this includes poetry, fiction and CNF. In this sense, it is fair to consider this issue as having an open theme.

In addition to this broad call, haiku and tanka, epigram and other related short forms are welcome as part of the second issue. Send 3 micro/haiku pieces for consideration. Please use the subject line beginning: “Haiku Issue 2” when submitting your work.

For further details, please visit and consult the Submissions page.

Red Alder Review strives to be an online publication and community of inclusion, welcoming writers of all backgrounds to submit. This includes, but is in no way limited to BIPOC writers, writers with disabilities, LGBTQIA2S+ writers, and writers from other marginalized groups.

Cosmic Bowling – Goodden & Hoogland

Cosmic Bowling: The I-Ching Poems by Cornelia Hoogland

Ted Goodden and Cornelia Hoogland, Cosmic Bowling (Guernica Editions, 2020)

Review by Patrick Burman 


(Images have permission of Guernica Editions, and Ted Goodden, Artist)



Cosmic Bowling is a book whose left-side pages have sixty-four images of generic human figures carved from clay holding a bowling ball in various positions, sculpted by Ted Goodden. On the right-side pages are sixty-four six-line poems written by Cornelia Hoogland. Each pairing is meaningful, taking into account the texts of the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching (Bollingen version, R. Wilhelm and C.F. Baynes, trans.). At the end, an essay by Goodden shows the influence of the I Ching on their approach to the hexagrams.

Goodden relates that, in life circumstances of confusion and stress, he had come to trust the I Ching to show pathways to safer ground. “The open-weave of the sacred text”, he writes, “allows your wise self to speak through metaphor to your anxious self.” The lack of familiar cultural associations of this thousands-years-old Chinese wisdom book helped him focus on the archetypal human condition “situated within the larger cycles of the natural and the social worlds“. It may have shaped the “everyman” design of the sculpted figure with his bowling ball.

The most important influence was Taoism. The dialectics of Yin and Yang, always in motion, each bearing the seeds of its counterpart, permeates the book. He saw the alternation of growth and decay in his own compost heap and garden. “Who can really understand how potato peelings combine to form the soil that grows more potatoes, or how those potatoes, when we eat them, become a thought …“.  But Taoist dialectics and its path which seeks to restore balance and an ethos of stewardship faced many challenges today. The propulsive hubris of corporate capitalism and consumerist excess has no grounding in or even plausible future for our life on earth, where we are close to environmental catastrophe.

Notwithstanding the influence of the great wisdom book, these works of art draw from the artists’ life histories and long practice to make their own “music” together. In Hexagram 5, “Hsu, Waiting”, the poet writes “Light emerges out of these sculptures. / They have their own pulse … / The sculptor releases beauty; it will return in another creation. …” On the facing page, Figure squats attentively as if he were taking in the poem in his compact posture of waiting.       

 

I look at three hexagrams where the interaction of form and content between sculpture and poem is particularly striking. In Hexagram 29 Ka’n, The Abysmal, a prostrate Figure wraps his shoulder, head, left arm, and left leg around the ball. The uncomfortable stretch of the left leg suggests strain from an onerous burden. The sculptor has made us feel the space above pressing Figure’s body into its bowling ball. The commentary of the I Ching points to an objective situation, not a subjective attitude, portending danger and possible catastrophe. It is like a person trapped in the same pass as water in a ravine. Water is always true to itself and finds a way out, and the self likewise must find the truthful sincerity of mind to gain mastery of the situation and escape.

            The Poet starts with the voice of an employee who, reaching a crisis with the boss at work, considers the risky option of abruptly quitting. But this poetic subject draws back from the precipice: “What if I gained distance?”, to find lucidity in the situation. There is the image of water entering and escaping through “the hollow between ribs of sand”. Is “the tide retreating?” The poet offers a metaphor suggesting that correct perception and cautious action helped turn the situation to safety. The poet has moved from a colloquial expression of a modern subject – “I’m outta here” to echoing the imagery of a wisdom book thousands of years old, in six lines. Her shift to the universal and generic on line 2 is not too sudden, as the sculpture image of Figure groaning under its burden on the facing page gives warrant to ascending the conceptual plane.

            On the left page of the 17th hexagram, “Sui, Following, the Sculptor has Figure inclining his head and looking right, allowing him to view both ball and environment peripherally. His posture, with ball behind his right foot and his arms bowed, has a solicitous oval shape that suggests a caring leader. This is not a person annoyed at the loss of freedom from the “ball and chain” at his feet; mindfulness about those who follow produces serenity. The I Ching commentary offers a normative model of the good leader who has consistency in doing right. The follower is safe with such a leader, who has had experience serving as well as leading, and never has lets his ego or self-interest cloud his judgment. The sparely dressed, ego-less Figure conveys the nobility of such a leader.                                            

            The poet adapts the notion of “following” as metaphor for the natural world. Following the sun, the snake, iris, and sunflower unfold their biological designs, described beautifully: “Sun compels snake from under the rock, raises the flag iris / at the pond, and — sunflower in tow — wheels / across the sky”. She tightens the focus to her senses which, in a Copernican earth that is a mere follower of the sun, will never align with the centre. She switches dramatically to the Aztecs who tore out people’s hearts in gratitude to the sun. My early readings saw this as a discordant note at the end of a six-line poem, departing from her focus on nature’s followings, as well as the sociological commentary about leaders and followers in the I Ching. But we have learned from our own time the extremes to which followers can be incited by the visions of their leaders.

In the 24th hexagram, Fu, Return, Figure’s head is tilted upward in this longest night during the winter solstice, as though looking trustingly for the slow return of light. No need to rush anything: change will come at the appointed time. “This is the meaning of heaven and earth”, says the I Ching. To reinforce Figure’s harmony with the cosmos, the Sculptor has Figure cradle his earth-ball with his two arms orientated in opposite directions, as if to say: This is my natural home which I respond to and care for. This beautiful sculpture honours the human being by having Figure seem to burst the walls of his case and stand tall, feet planted, in the cosmos.

                       

The I Ching offers comment on the returns, not just of the seasons, but of human beings who need to restore balance and health after an illness or an estrangement. Success is not guaranteed but can properly pursued by avoiding trivial excuses or hasty decisions. One must treat circumstances with care and tenderness, and examine oneself, in order “that the return may lead to a flowering.”

The Poet’s six lines has cosmic, seasonal, and personal elements. The first three lines, starting with granular observations — “Sap ruddies the bare dogwood, the hillside turns purple …” and moving to an image of the narrowing of light in the solstice itself. A beautiful line, “A procession of choristers carry the candled dark” suggest the Christmas season, but she writes of personal change as well. Parts of her have been neglected and now “take on a burnished glow”. They are returning to her in her current life.

            There is a small number of poem/sculpture pairings that are less sure-footed.  The essay’s exegesis of Hexagram 18 (Ku, Work on What’s Been Spoiled) is profound and generative, but the sculpture/poem do not measure up. We are not sure what Figure is doing, holding the ball down in front of him. The sense in which Martha Stewart “answers the riddle of a cluttered life” is puzzling. The last three lines speak eloquently of the quiet that “music tends toward” but is unclearly linked to the theme. As well, the poem in Hexagram 21 (Ho, Biting Through) does express the theme viscerally with the eating of different cuts of meat, but then glosses the poem “I know this poem sounds pathetic, but its refusal to suppress …”. Figure’s body is bent backward over the ball in agony, suggesting the existential struggle of imprisonment. But the associated poem, by minding how it might sound to the reader, reduces its focus on the thematic of the hexagram.

The vast majority of poems and sculptures give the reader pleasure and illumination. We learn of the refugee and his family, the thinning atmosphere, the tiny wonders of nature close at hand, the hard-won pride in one’s gifts – reading like a poetic journal. Cosmic Bowling is a true Vade Mecum, that you might toss into a bag (along with the I Ching perhaps). We should be grateful for this flowering of their art in these pages.      



Patrick Burman co-founded the 2 Susans Poetry Circle in Montreal. Born there, he went to Concordia and the University of Notre Dame. He taught sociology at university in London Ontario for 35 years, publishing on unemployment and poverty. Writing and reviewing poetry is the work and joy of his retirement.