6 Poets from AbleMuse

6 Poets from AbleMuse

AbleMuse was always an attractive online poetry magazine, and its newer incarnation is snazzier than ever, with illustrated poems, brief biographies, sensible reviews and extended articles of interest to New Formalist writers. All is showcased in a pleasing format that makes it easy to read and to purchase copies of its print editions, even if those editions are promoted with reviews rather than sample poems, which some may think are too open to mutual back scratching to be wholly reliable.

AbleMuse espouses traditional but not outmoded forms. Sonnets have unconventional themes, for example, and not all poems rhyme. Space is given to newcomers and to established names, and while some work comes close to versified prose — i.e. unadventurous and lacking that sensitivity to words in their larger dimensions — the best poems achieve rather more.

I have chosen work that can be read for free. The first piece is possibly a fair sample of AbleMuse quality and style:  Breeding Grounds by Cornelia Snider, which can be read at: http://www.ablemuse.com/v6/poetry/cornelia– snider-yarrington/breeding-grounds

Shall I conduct you to those buried days?
We’ll forge a trace through long-abandoned ways
past tumbled, rotten barns and slattern shacks
in piney woods by gritty railroad tracks.

And so it continues agreeably with another sixty lines of childhood memories to conclude with:

This tale of shabby house and pallet beds,
calloused feet and faded cotton spreads
cannot be told—nor that when moonlight shines,
I hear the siren voices of the pines.

To think the matter could be put as easily in prose is to overlook the pleasing neatness of the lines, or, as the poem puts it:

What beauty could one find in such a place, philosophy or creed or simple grace?

The second succeeds because it happily turns an exalted form to a commonplace theme, that of the family man trying to lie abed a little longer. Lauds by Geoffrey Block can be read here: http://www.ablemuse.com/v6/featured-poetry/geoffrey-brock/lauds?s=1f59d0f01b47ba4291680a6458a50509

The poem starts with a parody of a Richard Wilbur poem, and has a similar mock seriousness:

My eyes open to a cry,
then flinch back shut. O Lord make haste to help me.
Why can’t he wake up like the saints,
joyful in glory?

And ends with:

And let thy father, who art still in bed, sleep a bit longer…
And forgive him. And praise 
your screaming brethren, and not just those of Zion,
for Christ’s sake, for crying out loud.

As with many poems on the AbleMuse site, there is little to say: within the limited compass it sets itself the piece works admirably.

The third, Prayer for the Virtuous Pagans by Timothy Murphy, is a short poem, closely rhymed, that again has its biblical exhortations. It can be read here: http://www.ablemuse.com/v9/poetry/timothy-murphy/prayer-virtuous-pagans

The opening lines set the tone:

My Lord, let me begin with David Miller
whose eldest son is now a pillar
of your temple and your priest,

But the concluding lines go beyond mock gravity to make a valid case for strict forms:

and in her writing balances each loss
with gain within a sonnet’s measured space,
>may You behold mi Divina Rhina’s face.

The fourth poem is indeed a sonnet, but nothing that Wordsworth would have written.  Tarzan and other Schoolgirl Sonnets by Rose Kelleher can be read here: http://www.ablemuse.com/v9/featured-poetry/rose– kelleher/schoolgirl-sonnets

The rhyming, the word placing and the cadences are exact, unexpected and convincing:

It’s not the pecs, the lion-killing prowess,
or the lure of Greystoke Manor. It’s akin
to sex, but simultaneously less
and more: the thrill of all he’s not.

Best of all, the concluding couplet comes with a mocking, slightly self- abasing slap round the face. These are not schoolgirl crushes but the products of cool memory:

the forest god regarding us with innocent surprise,
a startling emptiness in his round eyes.

Rebecca Foust’s Lust Redeems Her Car from the Parking Lot is as tongue-in-cheek as its title. Foust has published several collections and her poetry won the 2007 and 2008 Robert Phillips Chapbook Prizes. The link is: http://www.ablemuse.com/v9/poetry/rebecca-foust/lust-redeems-car– parking-valet and the poem starts:

Yo’ Deadly, hot enuf yet?” quips the cute  parking valet who whips her Bentley around  to the autocourt.

The word choice and phrasing is on the money:

She likes the hairnet, and pants riding low beneath the white jacket that keeps everything nice and official.

She wonders when  her husband will get back from Vegas. Poor dear,  so hot there—

As is the concluding comment about the absent husband:

Why would a pimp ever phone him, or here?

The sixth and last piece is Anasazi is by Richard Schiffman, a New York based writer and former journalist. The poem, which can be accessed here — http://www.ablemuse.com/v9/poetry/richard-schiffman/anasazi — has serious theme: the spiritual dimension of indigenous Americans, which we have largely lost:

They were people of dreams and ladders.
Their homes were hollowed into cliffs.

The lines have a natural shape, the cadences hardly needing the occasional rhyme and pararhyme:

the next is soon to turn the tables.
Each stage emerging from the last  
reversing what we thought we knew.
No simple progress from the past,  
for though the light grows daily brighter,
the night wells up around our feet.  

The concluding section emphasizes the kinship with the seasons and rounds off the theme off strongly:

For what emerges must descend
as sap sinks back into the root  
to push up the aspiring shoot—
the fifth world merging day with night.


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