Poetry Days

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For me, the days I write poetry kiss the ordinary with extra.

From the start, I enter a zone, oxygenated, fresh, a walk into the new or into the old with new sight. It is at once a fragile state and tensile strong. I begin with a touch of fairy dust, proceed into intense struggle, and emerge with a secret stash.

Are the works good, great, or perfect? Of course not. Those adjectives don’t really apply. Does it speak? Is the voice clear? Does the string hook you and pull you in? Does the silk envelop and lift? Those are better questions, along with myriad others.

This week, my husband’s brother Robert requested the rights to publish the poem I wrote to his, my husband’s, and their brother James’s father who died not many years ago.

“I am writing to request permission to use your poem about Daddy on a website documenting his WW2 activities along with activities of the 67th Armored Regiment and the 2nd Armored Division during WW2.  The website URL is: http://3mmemorials.com.”

Of course I said yes. Most poets would, and I liked this poem and writing and re-writing it very much. I was excited when Jonathan Kevin Rice accepted it into the Iodine Poetry Review, accepted some suggestions he made, and then was more than happy to see it published there. See my earlier post which contains the poem.

I promised in still another post to let you see two winners I had in the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Pinesong Awards 2017. Here they are.

Poetry of Witness, 2nd Place

His Time Has Come

Silently I stand, too young

to speak, only listen, see,

I am the accidental witness

to your race. How does one

so young see it all–your car

racing him head to head

down the road–his car flips

over and over, crashes near

me, but others reach you quicker,

try to pull you from the wreck,

your neck is broken; you are

a young black man I do not know.

I mourn, cry for the life you

never had, and now I see

the car that raced you–white

one with a stripe, return

from the opposite direction,

as though a first responder.

This time his lights are flashing;

he wears official clothes,

exits his squad car to take

charge, file white papers,

end the race he had begun.

He glares, warns me off.

That was then. Now I am

old; my voice returns.

I loved the Judge’s comments, Ray McManus, who said in judging he looked for two possibilities, validation and revelation. He said when poems do this, we don’t just read them, but feel them. He said “His Time Ha Come” was a tight-set poem that explores the agony of silence in our youth and how, in time, that voice returns. He liked especially that the poet leads to the revelation but leaves to the reader to imagine how the voice will return.

Here is the second one:

Up from the Cape Fear

Mary Ruffin Poole American Heritage Award, Third Prize

From my upstairs window looking down, I see

a snake stretched out on sun-warmed gray stone.


Groggy from an afternoon’s nap, I think, charcoal,

round. What type of snake is this who sits upright, walks


on ground, like the serpent in Eve’s garden, neck high;

body spans entrance wing to wing in late summer sun.


Small head, I think, a black snake, or even a racer,

crawling on distended belly, full of rat. My son–


I am thick with sleep that won’t recede–he leaves

tomorrow for duty in Iraq. I see it as an omen.


Mesmerized, I watch, hypnotized by a snake

whose body is bigger, fuller, rounder than his head


who stretches out at 18 feet here in old N.C. We

entertain strange snakes that slither up from Cape Fear.


An albino moccasin, yellow underbelly, once

migrated up the banks of the dry river bed searching water


found us, his eyes red hot coals under the car. Head

raised, he slid aggressively toward us; this one lumbers.


Took two years’ research and a park ranger to discover

we harbored a Vietnamese cobra by our front door.


It’s okay, they don’t use other snakes’ holes;

they’ll keep wandering, looking for their own.



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