friday roundup: silences and hands edition

Hello, reader. This week I’ve been thinking a lot about silence.

silence n. 1. complete absence of sound. 2. the fact or state of abstaining from speech > the avoidance of mentioning or discussing something. v. 1. make silent. 2. fit with a silencer.

From the from Latin silentium “a being silent,” from silens, present participle of silere “be quiet or still,” of unknown origin.

I’ve been thinking about two different forms of silence:

silence the first The first is that silence that sometimes descends upon a writer. I’m in the midst of one of these silences now—nothing’s flowing and the stillborn lines are piling up in my notebook.

How fitting, in this case,  that at its deepest root silence is “of unknown origin.”

These silence are always excruciating, and when I’m in the midst of one I always make sure to remind myself that I’m not the only one who has hit quiet patches. Here’s Louise Glück in her essay “Education of the Poet”:

“I have wished, since I was in my early teens, to be a poet; over a period of more than thirty years, I have had to get through extended silences. By silences I mean periods, sometimes two years in duration, during which I have written nothing. Not written badly, written nothing. Nor do such periods feel like fruitful dormancy.”

I also remind myself of the things I do to keep moving forward amidst the silence and stillborn lines:

  • read, and while I’m reading,
  • write down lines grab my attention
  • work in my lexicon
  • copy poems I love into my notebook by hand
  • keep adding to my lists
  • look back in my notebooks (often I will find a line or a fragment that shakes something loose in me)
  • accept the obstacle in the path as the path: rather than write, revise, send out poems, do other writerly things that are not writing
  • write anyway (I have been this time)
  • read a lot of craft essays…

…which brings me to:

silence the second  The other silence I’ve been thinking about is the silence of the unsaid in a poem. My favorite poems are so often those that don’t hand over everything, that use silence as a tool, that suggest rather than declare. Wallace Stevens’ poem “The Snowman” ends with this stanza:

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

The kind of silence I’m thinking about is “the nothing that is.” A silence that makes itself felt in the poem, a bodied silence. Conveniently, Louise Glück also writes about this kind of silence in her essay “Disruption, Hesitation, Silence”:

“The unsaid for me exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made from this vocabulary. It is analogous to the unseen; for example, to the power of ruins, to works of art either damaged or incomplete. Such works inevitably allude to larger contexts; they haunt because they are not whole, though wholeness is implied: another time, a world in which they were whole, or were to have been whole, is implied.”

Yes, this is what I want to do with silence in my poems. Not that I know how. Glück also writes:

“All earthly experience is partial.”

If you have favorite poems that employ a felt silence, I hope you’ll share them in comments.

P.S.  Both of the Glück essays referred to are in her book Proofs & Theories.

hands  O, hands. Having a certain, long-standing relationship with inflammatory arthritis (thank you, Lupus), I have a very fraught relationship with hands. Especially my own hands. I will never forget this exchange with one of my doctors years ago:

Him: Do you drop things?
Me: Yes.
Him: Hopefully not the baby!
Silence

But recently I read Aracelis Girmay‘s book Kingdom Animalia. This poet has taken hold of hands, and her hands, and all hands. There are so many hands in her poems, that I began to love hands in a whole new way. I love it when a poet takes possession of something like this. Also: read this book. It is so good. Anyway, one of my favorite poems in the book is called “Portrait of the Woman as a Skein.” It’s a long poem in sections, and sadly I’ve not been able to find a version that’s link-to-able online. So I’m going to give you one section of it, and I think you will see why I love this book:

*

from PORTRAIT OF THE WOMAN AS A SKEIN

Last night, the dream of you standing
in the doorway like a lighthouse
calling for your hands to come back
home, & from a great distance, them
running towards you, two
children or two dogs. What scared you then,
you also called it beautiful—
the way their breath flew out of them like clouds,
the way they reached the dark yard panting & stood
deciding between the body & the woods.

*

Between the body and the woods. Oh my goodness.

Have a wonderful weekend, reader, and may all your silences have the power of ruins. Thanks for reading!

friday roundup: hidebound opinions, ‘those beautiful names of horses,’ & ‘the ax that breaks this lock’

Perhaps the only remotely good thing about a poet dying is that we are sent sharply back to her words. And isn’t it true that the words of poets become more weighty after their deaths, because we know there will be no more from them? At any rate, I have gone back sharply and here is what I’ve found:

hidebound

hidebound adj. constrained by tradition or convention; narrow-minded

At poetry group last weekend, the person in charge of the craft talk led us in a discussion of the work of C. D. Wright—who is perhaps the least constrained by tradition or convention, the least narrow-minded poet of recent memory, but who gathered her poetics in an essay called “69 Hidebound Opinions, Propositions, and Several Asides from a Manila Folder Concerning the Stuff of Poetry.”

I’ve been living with the essay this week. All of her little quotes and quips about poetry I’ve gathered over the years in my notebook of quotes are there, along with so much more. Here are a couple of my favorite bits:

“It is poetry that remarks on the barely perceptible disappearances from our world such as that of the sleeping porch or the root cellar.”

*

“It is the quality of omission or suppression I believe which determines the quality and degree of a reader’s participating in the telling—what is latent in the work that the reader alone can render active and integral to it.”

*

(and this one is my favorite:)

“This is the poet’s choice: to attend to a presence no one else is aware of, to spend the better part of a lifetime preparing for an arrival that could not occur but for her attention, that would not in fact otherwise make its blaze on this world.”

You can read the whole essay here.

those beautiful names of horses  Now for another dead poet: Larry Levis. I think of him as the Poet Laureate of Oblivion, his poems ache so with love and loss and the fleetingness of, well, everything. I’ve been reading his work these last two weeks, traversing his long, wandering lines & coming face to face with his ampersands. I’ve been thinking about his ampersands and what they achieve—what does the ampersand do that the word ‘and’ cannot do? Where, how, and why does Levis use them?

Well, someone else has been thinking about Levis’ ampersands, too, and far more cogently and poetically than I have. Yesterday, I read Mairead Small Staid‘s essay “The 27th Letter,” and I fell in love.

The essay looks at the ampersand—its history, what it can do that the word “and” can’t, etc.—and its function in Levis’ work: “Both ways is the only way it is.” Beyond that, the essay is beautiful and poetic and carries its own ideas about why we read and write poetry. Here’s a teaser:

“To list what you love, many-chambered as the heart; to couple one part to the next to the next, forced to give nothing up; to carry what you love, to wear it on your chest, to possess it as fully as you can—this is one reason, at least, to write poetry or to read it, those beautiful names of horses grazing on the tongue.”

You can read the whole essay here. And huge thanks to Sandy Longhorn who linked to the essay on Facebook, which is how I found my way to it.

“the ax that breaks this lock”  About two seconds after I posted the last roundup, I heard the news that the poet Francisco X. Alarcón had died.

Dear Universe, enough with all the poets and artists dying already.

Here is a beautiful love poem he wrote to round out the roundup this week:

*

from OF DARK LOVE
by Francisco X. Alarcón, translated by the poet

I

there has never been sunlight for this love,
like a crazed flower it buds in the dark,
is at once a crown of thorns and
a spring garland around the temples

a fire, a wound, the bitterest of fruit,
but a breeze as well, a source of water,
your breath—a bite to the soul,
your chest—a tree trunk in the current

make me walk on the turbid waters,
be the ax that breaks this lock,
the dew that weeps from trees

if I become mute kissing your thighs,
it’s that my heart eagerly
searches your flesh for a new dawn

*

Happy weekend and thanks for reading!

on submissions: guidelines

Turlough_Carolan_memorial_detail,

Once I had this idea that I’d write a few posts on what I’ve learned about submitting poems. I imagined it would take me a few weeks. Then life kept happening and happening. Life is very life-like that way. Anyway, I think I’ve promised a post about guidelines, so that’s what today’s topic is, lo these many weeks months.

Refresher: For those who might not remember in the gaps between posts, or who are just joining us, my mantra for submissions (and all of poetry, really) is from Aristotle: “One learns to play the harp by playing.” Which inevitably means making mistakes and learning as one goes.

BUT FIRST: A reader wrote (thank you!) and suggested I clarify something about placement rates, which I touched on in this post. There, I wrote that even a 10% placement rate is considered very good. This reader suggested that using 10% as a benchmark sets people up for discouragement, since many people will have much lower placement rates. So, I want to emphasize that a 10% rate would be *very good* (and if you are there or above, you might want to think about submitting to higher-tiered journals). I myself have a 7.8% placement rate according to Duotrope, where I track my submissions. So, if you’re rate is below 10%, fear not—you are so not alone.

Now: Guidelines.

Guidelines describe the format in which a journal desires to consider submissions.

They might go something like this: 3-5 poems, no more than one poem per page, maximum of 10 pages, standard font, contact information on each page (or not), online only, or postal only (though this is becoming rare), or postal and online okay, simultaneous submissions* okay (or not).

Some want a cover letter, others don’t. Some read blind—that is, without referencing the contact information—in an effort to remain unbiased. This is especially true for contests. Others don’t read blind; this is what’s typical for regular journal submissions.

Since every journal’s guidelines are different (someday I’ll write another post on my one of my dreams: universal submission guidelines), it’s important to read guidelines carefully and format each submission accordingly.

My process for making sure I meet a journal’s guidelines is to print out the guidelines and one by one, manually check them off as I prepare my submission, then double-check. Painstaking and paper-intensive, but it’s what works for me.

Even with this process, I have goofed on guidelines. You will goof on guidelines. It’s not the end of the world. Some journals might read your submission anyway (don’t plan on this); some won’t. Although you don’t want to make a practice of it, you can always withdraw and submit again if you’ve submitted online.

WARNING: Many journals list their guidelines on their website, as well as on their submission manager webpages. I’ve found that these sets of guidelines sometimes contradict one another. When in doubt, I typically go for the more rigorous guidelines (e.g., if one asks for a cover letter, but the other doesn’t mention cover letters, I’ll include a cover letter). When in extreme doubt, I’ve queried the editorial staff (maybe once or twice).

Here are some examples of guidelines from a few different journals:

As you can see, guidelines vary widely from place to place. Follow them. Followed guidelines are your poems’ first foot in the door.

Yet to come in this series (I use the term loosely) on submissions: formatting and cover letters; being strategic. Previous posts are available here:

Thanks for reading!

*Note: Simultaneous submissions are when you submit a poem or set of poems to more than one journal at the same time. Some journals are fine with this, others aren’t. This is almost always stated in their guidelines, but Duotrope is a place to double check. Here is a helpful piece from The Review Review about sending simultaneous submissions strategically (and some other stuff). The gist is this: if you’re submitting poems simultaneously, send them to journals that you would be equally happy to place the poems with.

 

friday not-a-roundup: becalmed edition with the word brush

 

Paint_brushes_and_fruits

becalm v. [with obj.]  leave (a sailing vessel) unable to move through lack of wind. From be- a word-forming element with a wide range of meanings, and calm from Latin cauma “heat of the mid-day sun” from Greek kauma “heat” (especially of the sun), from kaiein “to burn.”

It’s not hot, but I’m feeling becalmed. Between meeting a deadline just now, and the loss of three singular artists this week, and it being Friday in general and no food in the house, and not even having peeked at the laundry that I’m sure has piled up while I’ve worked on my deadline, I’m just sitting here, my sails flagging, wondering what to do first, next or otherwise.

So here is a small thing that many of you may have already seen circulating on social media, but which I’m holding onto as a rallying cry for making art fiercely and always, becalming be damned. From C.D. Wright’s “Cooling Time”:

“I believe in a hardheaded art, an unremitting, unrepentant practice of one’s own faith in the word in one’s own obstinate terms. I believe the word was made good from the start; it remains so to this second. I believe words are golden as goodness is golden. Even the humble word brush gives off a scratch of light.”

brush n. an implement with a handle, consisting of bristles, hair, or wire set into a block; a slight and fleeting touch. From Old French from Old French broisse (Modern French brosse) “a brush” (13c.), perhaps from Vulgar Latin *bruscia “a bunch of new shoots.”

Happy Friday and thanks for reading.

friday roundup: new year edition

IMG_6162

Snow… outside the village

Hi Reader, and happy new year. We are back from a wonderful trip to Michigan to visit family. There were cousins! There were all sorts of Christmas cookies! There was snow! It was fun, and my joy was doubled seeing how much the kids enjoyed our time with family and the northern Michigan landscape I so dearly love. Now, I seem to be taking my time getting back into a routine (in my defense, the kids weren’t back in school until Wednesday and yesterday was a half-day), but I’m getting there in fits and starts.

I’ve been reading here and there, working on book reviews, and trying to organize my workspace for the new year. I’m not big on resolutions or fresh starts; I’m just showing up at my desk as usual, and here’s what I’m thinking bout this week:

writing as re-vision  In the new Writer’s Chronicle, I came across a reference to Adrienne Rich’s essay “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-vision.” Of course I had to read it, and although it was written in the year I was born, I feel much of what it has to say—about writing, about feminism, and about life (and for me, especially the life of a poet-mother)—still applies. Here are two of my favorite snippets:

“Re-vision—the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction—is for us more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival.”

and

“You have to be free to play around with the notion that day might be night, love might be hate; nothing can be too sacred for the imagination to turn into its opposite or call experimentally by another name. For writing is re-naming.”

In her essay, Rich was writing about re-vision as a way of understanding the world and one’s self in the world amidst the feminist movement, and about transforming that experience into art. Without detracting from the importance of Rich’s macro-level ideas, I think it’s also interesting to think of these quotes at a much the micro level: while re-visioning poems.

You can find the whole essay here. Thank you, Interwebs.

soothsaying in reverse  I’ve also been reading Marianne Boruch’s essay “The End Inside It.” Thank you, New England Review. Have you read any of Boruch’s essays? They are amazing things: deeply intelligent, lyrical, somehow also philosophical, syntactically astonishing, often wryly humorous, and then also so very attuned to craft. I don’t know how she does it. She says many thought-provoking things in this essay, and takes a close look at endings in several different poems, but the thing that keeps rising to the top of my mind is this bit:

“One of the simple, great things about poems is that for the most part they are small inventions—a page, two pages. That is, we can be there with them; we can hover, literally over them, a few moments for the eye, an ear to them briefly, and how many breaths from first to line to last? Not that many. Which is to say, in reading—as reader—the finished thing, or in its morphing into the revision if we’re actually the writer-thereof, we can enter it again and again until it all becomes a kind of soothsaying in reverse, to stare at a poem (as reader) or its draft (as writer) and note how the ending in fact comes to be, came to be, or could come to be, bringing its most secret life as both earned thing—fashionable to say that now—and as deep surprise.”

No pressure. But how about that: “soothsaying in reverse”!? Let us all be soothsayers.

irrevocable  This poem will be a repeat for those who saw it on Facebook. Sorry, but 1). I cut off a line-end in the photo on Facebook and thus need to right my wrong on the Interwebs and 2). It merits re-reading and has, over the last few days, become for me an utterly irrevocable poem, one that I’ll live with until the end of my days. Irrevocable, as in not able to be reversed or called (Latin vocare) back (Latin re-):

*

GOSSIP IN THE VILLAGE by Larry Levis

I told no one, but the snows came, anyway.
They weren’t even serious about it, at first.
Then, they seemed to say, if nothing happened,
Snow could say that, & almost perfectly.

The village slept in the gunmetal of its evening.
And there, through a thin dress once, I touched
A body so alive & eager I thought it must be
Someone else’s soul. And though I was mistaken,

And though we parted, & the roads kept thawing between snows
In the first spring sun, & it was all, like spring,
Irrevocable, irony has made me thinner. Someday, weeks

From now, I will wake alone. My fate, I will think,
Will be to have no fate. I will feel suddenly hungry.

The morning will be be bright, & wrong.

*

This is from Levis’ posthumous collection The Darkening Trapeze edited by David St. John. I could write pages about Larry Levis, about how he is the poet laureate of oblivion, about his poem “Rhododendrons,” about his lines, his elegies, and the sad fact of his short life. But… but… all this reading? None of it was assigned. And thus I must turn my attention to things assigned and due next week.

Happy weekend and thanks for reading.

 

 

 

words to live by: Ishmael edition

“(H)erein we see the rare virtue of a strong individual vitality, and the rare virtue of thick walls, and the rare virtue of interior spaciousness. Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole. Like the great dome of St. Peter’s, and like the great whale, retain, Oh man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own.”

–Moby Dick, Chapter 68

 

friday roundup with Ishmael, stress, and “Song After Sadness”

Sperm_whale_drawing_with_skeleton

Hello and happy Friday. Known also as the last day the children will be in school until January 6th. So yes, I’m at my desk trying to get as much bang for my buck as I can, while I can. Here’s this week’s roundup:

Dear Ishmaelyou had me at Call me Ishmael. But I had forgotten how deeply I love you. These last two weeks I’ve been reading your story again. The one about which people in my house keep asking “Have they seen any whales yet?”; the one about which I keep saying, “No. This book is not about hunting whales.”

Ishmael, I’ve read your story so many times, but every time I fall in love again. That you named the Huzza Porpoise the Huzza Porpoise (The name is of my own bestowal… . I call him thus, because he always swims in hilarious shoals, which upon the broad sea keep tossing themselves to heaven…) . That you spend a whole chapter on cetology (Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored harborless immensities…) and then another whole chapter on the whiteness of the whale (But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness… .).

This time, Ishmael, it’s on page 128 where I fall hard. Do you mind if I take this for a prayer?

“God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught—nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience.”

Ever yours,

Molly

stress  I’m remarkably unstressed this year regarding the holidays. I attribute this mostly to a continual lowering of my own and others’ expectations. But in case you need a friendly reminder about stress and a possible remedy:

“Nothing is that important. Just lie down.” –Natalie Goldberg

Sounds good to me.

Song After Sadness  This week, I’ve been reading Katie Ford‘s Blood Lyrics. I so admire how she manages to conjure the universal from the everyday, and how she addresses enormous subjects (death, war, despair) from her own, concrete place of being (“If we are at war let the orchards show it, / let the pear and fig fall prior to their time” — from “Our Long War”).

I’ve spent a lot of time reading and admiring “Song of Sadness” in particular. It seems apropos to this particular moment on earth.

Here’s the poem at the Academy of American Poets website.

 

I’ll be taking a little blog break over the holidays. See you back here in 2016. Thanks for reading.

friday roundup: “or none, or few” edition

IMG_5908

view from my window, through blinds: “where yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang”

Hello Reader. I’ve thrown the calendar to the wind lately… or perhaps it has thrown me to the wind. Either way, I’m just showing up here when I feel like I can. So, happy Friday and here’s what I have for a roundup this week:

book flood  I’ve heard a lot of people say this year that they’re having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit. I am one of them. Indeed, all I’ve done holiday-wise is 1. book our flights back to the Old Country, and 2. receive, gratefully, the holly boughs my neighbor brought over (still sitting in their paper grocery bag) and the poinsettia my other neighbor brought over (still wrapped in its plastic). But a few things have lifted my spirits:

A friend reminded me this week to sing, so I’ve been singing.

And people are lighting candles in the dark for Hanukkah.

And in Iceland there is this thing called the Christmas Book Flood. Apparently, a book (an actual, physical book) is the best holiday gift to give/get in Iceland. Also, according to NPR, Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world. I don’t know about you, but I’m packing now. Here’s more on the Christmas Book Flood if you need something to lift your boat.

a personal sheaf of riches  Somewhere this week (I wish I could remember where—some other writerly type probably shared it on Facebook) I came across this article describing William Stafford‘s daily writing practice. According to the article, his daily writing always included four things:

  1. The date
  2. A few lines of prose on a recent experience, encounter, dream, etc.
  3. An aphorism
  4. “something like a poem… or notes toward a poem… or just an exploratory set of lines that never became a poem”

If you’re looking for a framework for your daily (or, if you’re like me, almost-daily) writing practice, you could do worse.

I’ve been using this framework for the last several days and I have to say that it’s gotten me out of my mind and memory and into the actual, physical world more than I might otherwise be. I credit numbers 2 and 3 for this.

I’ve also noticed (and this has nothing to do directly with William Stafford’s framework) that, if you have a daily or nearly-daily writing practice, even when it feels like you haven’t been writing very many poems lately (who, me?), you end up with, as the article says, “a personal sheaf of riches” from which to write poems.

“or none, or few”  I try to be always memorizing a poem, or sometimes a poetic block of prose. Sometimes I fall down on the job, but mostly I stick to it, although I am slow about it. I’ve found that memorization helps me notice things I hadn’t noticed before about a poem (also, reciting a poem is a great way to soothe anxiety for me). Example: Until I memorized it, I never really noticed that in Jack Gilbert’s “Poem for Laura,” all the lines end with one of the following words: life, pain, heart, sorrow, love, night. Once I noticed, I could not believe I hadn’t noticed before. I hereby rest my case for memorization.

At any rate, last week and this, I’ve been memorizing Sonnet 73 (Shakespeare). Because it’s that time of year “When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang.” (At least, it is here in the Peninsula Town; I know it’s more wintry other places).

What I’ve noticed is that Shakespeare so often reverses our expectations. In that phrase—”When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang”—the expected progression would be to go from few to none, not none to few.

He also uses syntax that allows slips of meaning. Look at this bit of the poem, which comes right after the line I quoted above:

Upon the boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

I love that “bare ruined choirs” might be an appositive to describe the boughs which shake against the (noun) cold, or the choirs might be their own thing altogether against which the boughs shake, with cold, bare, and ruined modifying choirs.

Also, note what he does with rhythm in the second line above. After a line of perfect iambic pentameter (da-DAH, da-DAH, da-DAH, da-DAH, da-DAH), he begins the second line with five stressed syllables in a row, then an unstressed syllable, then three more stressed syllables.

Oh, Bill, you still amaze us.

Anyway, I’ll stop talking now and let the poem speak for itself: here is the whole of Sonnet 73.

I wish for everyone at least a few yellow leaves still hanging against the graying landscape—literally and figuratively. Thanks for reading.

 

roundup, not on friday, after quiet

Field_barn_in_winter_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1728849

Hello, Reader. I am still here, but have been feeling quiet lately (not to mention busy: kids, deadlines, holidays, etc.). Today is the sixth day of a six-day weekend for the kids. Rumor has it there is school tomorrow. I’ll believe it when I see it.

For now everyone has found their own little corner of the house (or, in one case, yard) and writing a little something seems possible. So here I am.

And here’s what’s been on my mind:

sources  I’m always interested in what poets say about where their poems come from. I’m interested whether they’re talking about it literally or figuratively; whether they seem certain or uncertain; whether their sources strike me as replicable (that is, worth trying) or not.

Earlier today, I ran across a lovely essay by my friend and fellow poet Sarah Pape, who wrote about poem-making in a Hayden’s Ferry Review contributor spotlight.

I’ve been reading and re-reading it all day, thinking about how poems come to me, most often out of the strange alchemy of other people’s poems and silence.

My favorite line from the essay, the entirety of which you must read for yourself: Tell me the places you’ve come from. Help me see.

Here’s the whole thing (and don’t be warned off by the “we’ve moved to a new port” message at the top of the page; scroll down, the essay’s there).

nuts and bolts  I’ve been re-reading Richard Hugo‘s The Triggering Town. I needed a bit of the title essay for a paper I was writing, and then of course had to re-read the whole book. Because it’s that good—so much solid craft advice alongside his deeply felt convictions about what a poet is, what the writing life is all about.

Here are a few of my favorite Hugoisms:

“It is impossible to write meaningless sequences.” (from “Writing Off the Subject)

“(W)hen you are writing you must assume that the next thing you put down belongs not for reasons of logic, good sense, or narrative development, but because you put it there. You, the same person who said that, also said this. The adhesive force is your way of writing, not sensible connection.” (also from “Writing Off the Subject”)

“(O)nce language exists only to convey information, it is dying.” (from “The Triggering Town”)

“So you are after those words you can own and ways of putting them in phrases and lines that are yours by right of obsessive musical deed.” (also from “The Triggering Town”)

I had all but forgotten about his essay “Nuts and Bolts” which is full of very practical tips (“Maximum sentence length: seventeen words. Minimum: one.” “No semi-colons.” “When the poem starts, things should already have happened.”) and things to try when you’re stuck. Thanks to the Interwebs, it is available to all of us for free at this link.

the last poem I loved  And now, as usual, a poem. Here is the last one I loved; it’s by Kevin Goodan, from his book In the Ghost-House Acquainted, which is worth its cover price just so you can study his amazing titles (but the poems are excellent, too):

*

SNOW ANGELS by Kevin Goodan

The barn is a story we’ve taken refuge in,
the one where the ghosts never arrive.

We wait anyway
since the weather demands it.

Strike a match and nothing disappears,
nothing leaps out, either.

Snow is a verb with certain ideas in mind,
it settles on the fringe of your coat.

Give me your hands.
The wind has a way of saying things

no longer self-evident.
Since the barn does not repeat itself

I will. Your hands,
they are remote and necessary.

With the temperature this close to zero
everything is at risk.

This is not a story
we can leave untouched.

*

May all the stories you can’t leave untouched find a home in your poems. Thanks for reading.