Poem-a-Day – The Day After You Died

T.S. Eliot may have called April the cruelest month, but it’s National Poetry Month and we’re celebrating by reading a new poem every day. Poems are provided by members of The Writers Place.

The Day After You Died by Rhiannon Ross

I spied three things
on my long walk home –All Posts

a used band aid stuck
like gum on a broken sidewalk,

a cicada on its back, legs cycling
in the midday sun,

and pigeon fluff impaled
on a wild rose thorn.

Posted in Poem-a-Day | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Poem-a-Day – On the Beach at Night

T.S. Eliot may have called April the cruelest month, but it’s National Poetry Month and we’re celebrating by reading a new poem every day. Poems are provided by members of The Writers Place.

On the Beach At Night by Frank Higgins

Walking at night alone along the beach,
I hear from a house above the shore
the tinkle of a piano hesitantly playing—
too imperfect to be anything but live—
Bach’s “Jesu: Joy of Man’s Desiring”
though played with only the right hand;
the melody tentatively tapped out
at the rate of a heartbeat
but audible only between the waves
then swallowed by the ocean’s surge and roar,
thoughtless sounds that will grate on
long after music and man are gone;
but a half hour later on my walk back
with thoughts darker than the ocean’s black,
what was tentative has turned tender,
ragged melody has become song
so that I’m brought to my knees in the sand
and almost weep, but don’t,
until the player adds the left hand.

(Previously appeared in The Kansas City Star)

Posted in Poem-a-Day | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Poem-a-Day – Jay

T.S. Eliot may have called April the cruelest month, but it’s National Poetry Month and we’re celebrating by reading a new poem every day. Poems are provided by members of The Writers Place.

Jay by James Benger

A jay on his branch,
the wind in his feathers.
The branch swaying – just a little.
Some ice on the wood
and snow on the ground.

A maple leaf blows up,
dances in front of the bird’s face.
Then the howling breeze
takes the leaf elsewhere.
Maybe to visit another jay.
The bird’s eyes follow
the path of the leaf until it is
out of sight.

The bird contemplates the
higher branches of its tree
and the gray sky above.
The bird takes flight.
A journey known only to itself.

Posted in Poem-a-Day | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation by Steve Vogel

Through the Perilous FightThe War of 1812 is one of the “forgotten wars” of the United States. It is, however, the conflict that helped to create the nation we have and provided the inspiration to our national anthem. In Through the Perilous Fight, Steve Vogel skillfully weaves together a narrative highlighting an eight week period of Washington D.C.’s history. Despite poor decisions, bad tactics, and the demoralizing burning of the city, the United States managed to survive and end the war that came very close to destroying the fledgling country. The only thing that I would have added is a back story to the War of 1812. The reader is thrust into the action and expected to understand the whys of the war. Yet Vogel does a fine job of bringing the personalities of politicians, soldiers, and common folk to the forefront of this conflict. It reminds me of David McCullough’s 1776. A good companion piece to more exhaustive accounts of the War of 1812.

Posted in harperj | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition by Robert Proctor

golden holocaustProctor pulls no punches in his 600 page depiction of the cigarette industry. He paints cigarette manufacturing as an industry that addicts over 80 percent of its users, kills half the people who use the product as directed, kills 400,000 Americans each year, kills 50,000 Americans a year through second-hand smoke, corrupts science, corrupts government, and corrupts the legal profession. Still, it is a legal industry.  American addiction to cigarettes began in the early 20th Century with the advent of the match, an instant flame. Most of the book concentrates on the cigarette industry’s campaign of denial beginning in 1953. Proctor is a graduate of Southwest High School in Kansas City, Missouri, and is currently a professor of the history of science at Stanford.  The book is scholarly and well documented. It is a compelling plea for the eradication of cigarettes and the abolition of a sinister industry.

Posted in shawverv | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Poem-a-Day – Note From the Art Director

T.S. Eliot may have called April the cruelest month, but it’s National Poetry Month and we’re celebrating by reading a new poem every day. Poems are provided by members of The Writers Place.

Note From the Art Director by John Peterson

The page needs an art element,
a deep vertical photo in the center
or a shallow horizontal across the top,
to break up all this gray print —
which, unfortunately, must be read.
Some days the paper sits on your porch
weighing three tons,
and you think, “I’d rather get a gun
and shoot myself than read this.”

The page needs an art element to lighten it,
a socko color chart with a curve ascending
as sensuously as a breast,
describing the latest numbers
on infectious disease.
Or a map where a bomb went off.

Think art element, perhaps a color
atmospheric photo of a railroad track,
a crumpled bike, a sheet,
some aimless officials kicking gravel down the bank,
and a small inset of the mother’s face,
tightly cropped, which seems to speak —
“Why is this happening to me?”

(Previously appeared in Poet & Critic, Iowa State University Press)

Posted in Poem-a-Day | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Poem-a-Day – Mishmash

T.S. Eliot may have called April the cruelest month, but it’s National Poetry Month and we’re celebrating by reading a new poem every day. Poems are provided by members of The Writers Place.

Mishmash by Annette Billings

I write this mishmash of well-intentioned poems,
which sometimes land askew of targets,
I write them for you who penned me free of hell.

They are poor homage, such pale payment
for the vibrant debt I owe.
But, such as they are, they are here–
offerings left with more gratitude than there are pages to hold.

Thank you Zora, Maya, Audre, Alice, e.e., Emily…
I write because you wrote first
and left an estate of audacious footprints
to guide my timorous feet.

You wielded machetes disguised as pens
and cleared a path truer than all the lies
they used to shackle me.
I surveyed maps you hid in poems, used keys you slid in prose,
followed the trail of your wordcrumbs to escape this life’s dark wilds.

See how I’ve mined my words from every place you wrote–
from dirt floors of slave quarters, gray walls of jail cells,
from margins of unpaid bills, pink slips,
from subpoenas, boxes of pregnancy tests,
from ceilings you stared at as you perished beneath some John?

I write in relative comfort because you wrote first under duress.
I write unbound from fear,
unhindered by demons you slew with paper cuts.

I write this mishmash of well-intentioned poems—for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Poem-a-Day | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

Revenge of the WitchTom is the seventh son of a seventh son, which means two things: one, his father is all out of tradesmen to apprentice his sons to.  And two, Tom can hear the dead.  These two things mean that Tom is going to be apprenticed to the Spook, the old man who rids the County villages of boggarts, ghosts and witches.  Soon, Tom comes face to face with things that would make a person (like me) shudder to think about, and has to use his brains and his instincts to protect himself and the County.  In particular, Tom manages to rile up a local coven of witches led by the singularly powerful (and singularly disgusting) Mother Malkin.

I listened to Revenge of the Witch on audio, and the reader was brilliant at bringing the shadowed world of the County to life.  Tom is the perfect fantasy hero–courageous and clever, but human as well–a young man who makes mistakes but tries to fix them.  This book (the first in a long series) works just as well as fantasy or as historical horror, but therein lies my one caution: this book is not for the squeamish.  The scares in this book often come in the form of very bodily, very visceral elements that had me almost gagging in my car.  But for the strong of stomach, this is a great read, especially for boys and young men.

Posted in taylorb | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Poem-a-Day – The Teardrop Moon

T.S. Eliot may have called April the cruelest month, but it’s National Poetry Month and we’re celebrating by reading a new poem every day. Poems are provided by members of The Writers Place.

The Teardrop Moon by David Arnold Hughes

The clouds are coming on
and I just saw the teardrop moon disappear
through the last hole in the sky.
I turned just in time to see it go.
All the stars I hoped for gone
and a single rain drop fell, or perhaps a tear
in the corner of my eye.
There’s a soft wind blowing;
I can hear it in the leaves.
Beyond the garden wall,
an owl is calling to the night
and somewhere in the dry creek bed
vulpes fulva chortles
calling to her love but no one answers.
A second drop of rain appears on my cheek.
Now, there’s one there for the vixen
who cries in the night
and one for the tear drop moon
that just flew out of sight.

 

 

 

Posted in Poem-a-Day | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

The Witching HourIf you’re in the mood for a long book and like family histories with a supernatural twist, try The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. While the story is set in the same world as her vampire series, there are no vampires in this book. Instead, the tale of the Mayfair witches is told from their beginning several hundred years ago to the present.

Those familiar with the vampire stories will recognize the Talamasca, whose motto is “we watch and we are always here,” and who play a significant role in the Mayfair witches’ story. The Talamasca are an order of scholars who study the supernatural. They are watchers, who do not get directly involved unless they feel that those being watched could benefit from the Talamasca’s aid. How the Mayfair witches and the Talamasca become entwined is one of the book’s themes.

Another theme, or appeal, is the setting, which roams from Scotland to the Caribbean, to New Orleans, to San Francisco, and back to New Orleans. One could almost smell the flowers and picture the old houses and streets that are described in vivid detail. In short, it’s vintage Anne Rice.

Posted in hanerd | Tagged , , | Leave a comment