3 Poems from Fieralingue

3 Poems from Fieralingue

The Fieralingue Poet’s Corner is not a poetry magazine but a personal listing by Anny Ballardini that conveniently puts a decent collection of contemporary work in one place. She says:

As the curator of this page, I am solely responsible for the choice of the poets here introduced, authors I evaluate as representative of our times, within my reduced possibilities of research, set by time_ chance_ and fate. . . I acknowledge all those who have chosen to send their poetic compositions, and feel as if it was my personal privilege to have met them, even if often only in cyber-land, with its Pindaric flights, inputs, expectations, deceptions; but most of all I agree with Pierre Lévy in his positive outlook on this infinite space which has brought to a higher level of common intellectuality thanks to its limitless access.

It’s long list, some 360 poets in all, and each is introduced with a brief biography and illustrated by an extended sample of their work, usually several poems but occasionally selections from a long piece.

The work I liked most of the poems presented (which are not always the author’s best) are by Charles Alexander, Bill Allegrezza, Ivy Alvarez, Jim Bennet, Millicent Borges Accardi, Ruth Fainlight, Kathy Figueroa, Annie Finch, Jessica Fiorini, R.S. Gwynn, Bill Lavender, Hoshang Merchant, Joyce Nower, Jane Kerrigan O’Keefe and Patricia Valdata.

I’ve chosen three poems. The first is Pushing Water 47 (for Chris Bruch) and can be read here: http://www.fieralingue.it/corner.php?pa=printpage&pid=3448 Charles Alexander has published three books of poems, teaches at Naropa University, the University of Arizona, Chax Press, and Pima Community College.

Pushing Water 47 is a discursive poem about the irrevocable decisions we make, what Alexander terms ‘singularity’. Here the word is being used in a technical sense: not simply oddness or unpredictability but points in space- time where the quantities that are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system.

If each point is a singularity  
we were right or left  
on unspeakable plains   
I will be there right    
and you will be    
left out      
on the noncollinear path

That path is further developed (non-collinear points are points not occupying the same plane) through memories: of Olanthe Kansas, an attack of stage-fright, of a love renewed or not renewed. The arrow of time is invoked:

and all the works that are good are
 => amusing       
if the arrows point the     
right way
 arrows are arrows are arrows      
if I remember a swing in   
a park late at night  

And there are more memories, possibly of a family:

where are you going   
my blue eyed son   
green eyed daughter   
brown eyed child   
spot on my shoulder

And a death:

each second     
and my friend imagines the place     
to scatter her ashes        

Until the singularity ‘disperses’ and firmer memories are blocked in with rhyming couplets:

all my life I have heard about many   

lines mark a sonnet’s walk around a block
in Toronto daughter and father write a walk
in ink that dries and falters falls and sighs
when the wind blows water and grass and cries  

Though these too crumble away.

the thirst of many
faces many days cry out cry loss cry hasty sleep
upon the plain of dust we dream tonight
when the fire dies and the shooting star stays
against confusion stays our hand our leap
toward the wall that crumbles into light     

 light crumbles too    
says the echo    to the water

In short, it’s simple poem that echoes the fragility and unpredictability of life with disconnected lines whose scraps of scientific terminology help give them a more general dimension.

The second poem, Only More So, by Millicent Borges Accardi, can be read here: http://www.fieralingue.it/corner.php?pa=printpage&pid=3346

Millicent Borges Accardi has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the arts (NEA), the California Arts Council, the Barbara Deming Foundation, Jentel, and the Corporation of Yaddo.  The poem comes from Woman on a Shaky Bridge 2010, and relates a wartime incident, of a woman and her husband abused by soldiers billeted on them. What actually happens is not spelt out, but remains stronger for only being hinted at.

You see it was very much like this.

The scene is set:

In the flatland dregs, the fat-coated
soldiers knocked at the door, so a woman
was forced, with a gritty smile,
to invite them in,  

The husband resents the intrusion but can do nothing:

In the corner her husband rubbed
a wooden rifle, tapped wooden boots against
a wooden floor, thinking, thinking
visitors are cold as bad luck.  

And so the familiar scene is repeated:

The soldiers, making circles in the dust
on the hearth, asked the woman to remember
the unremembered: the jewelry sold for food,  

Where are the rings?

the crudely made benches evaporated into firewood.

Until the inevitable happens:

while their stares mocked the broken
windows, and pain, itself, counted the woman’s
buttons as they easily slipped through the stitching
of her clothes.

The woman survives (though possibly not the husband) by accepting the flat banality of rape:

That now she must survive by owning air,
holding back the red, the full, the bare,
the proud canvases of flat language paper
that once told her everything she needed to know.

From which she will distance herself by suppressing the particulars:

It was like this, only more so.

The third poem is The Crescent by Ruth Fainwright, accessible here: http://www.fieralingue.it/corner.php?pa=printpage&pid=475

Ruth Fainlight has published thirteen collections of poems, two volumes of short stories, and translations from French, Portuguese and Spanish.  The poem comes from The Knot ( Hutchinson, 1990 and starts with a commonplace observation:

My stick of lipsalve is worn away
into the same curved crescent

Which recalls memories of her mother:

that was the first thing I noticed
about my mother’s lipstick.

And her ingress into the adult world:

It marked the pressure of her existence
upon the world of matter.

Which the daughter remembers in detail as it was:

It was part of the mystery of
brassieres and compacts and handbags
that meant being grown-up.

And also alarming:

I thought my own heels would have to grow
a sort of spur to squeeze right down
the narrow hollow inside high-heels.  

Now the author is older, and the crescent shape reminds her of a candle and the moon:

or a memorial candle,
wax congealed down one side,
as though it stood in the wind
that blows from the past, flame
reflected like a crescent
moon against a cloud  

When the lipstick becomes a talisman:

in a small plastic tube
in my handbag, a holy relic
melted by believers`

And reminder of her mother:

and every time
I smooth my lips with the unguent
I feel them pout and widen
in the eternal smile
of her survival through me,
feel her mouth on mine.

In all three poems, and most particularly in the third, the language is exact, scrupulously kept to the emotionally relevant, and stripped of unnecessary ornament.


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