Keno Evol has made the most of the associative powers of poetry in a little glimpse. Birds, bees, ants—tiny living things– join honey, flowers and breadcrumbs to lead us through homage to the past, help for the fallen, the honor of witness, and the sustenance of community culminating in the heartbreak of George Floyd’s final utterance. It gave me pleasure to locate these large concepts in miniature in specific lines of the poem. You may enjoy tracking them for yourselves.
Michael Kleber Diggs titles his poem with words you may only know if you suffer from the conditions: apnea, a breath-stopped waking in the night, bruxism, a tooth-crunching grind asleep and awake. With only two words we are launched into the physical terror of one man’s response to the murder of George Floyd. The poet is a person who knows before he knows, before he’s willing to know. He lists a line of facts in single words we recognize as representing the whole occurrence first to last, from mundane causes to lethal results. He addresses George Floyd directly as his own body registers similar trauma “gasping for air,” “fists clenched tight,” hope so intense it turned to prayer. His suffering merges with George’s as it did for us watching, as it does again reading this poem.
Sagira Shahid’s skilled poem “Familiar Fruit” evokes through the memory of shared sensation, quitedifferent events: the gassing of a protest march and a former flame’s proffering of a hot pepper, suggesting further unseen links between the two.
“What Comes Now?” by Mary Moore Easter is a poem in which the poet and her subject, Eliza (a Mississippi slave), ponder her world, mid-escape. Is this a song of celebration or an elegy of lament? Is it about Eliza’s world in 1860 or the poet’s world “now?” In the middle of this early 21st century poem about a late 19th century woman, the poet quotes a 20th century poem by Lucille Clifton. On the surface, this appears to be a straightforward story about a woman who escaped from slavery into freedom, but the poem ripples with meaning, like “the roiling surface / of (a) wet river.” If you are willing to ponder with Eliza and the poet, every reread will carry you further “out / in unseen time and space.”
This week’s poem, “Small Griefs” by Nicole Borg is heart-wrenching for the loss that is revealed in so few words. The details are vivid and tender. The speaker’s simple actions and stated longings depict grief in a way that is both memorable and visceral.
“Mother’s Day at the Nursing Home” by Laura Hansen is a poem featuring a scene of best intentions from the perspective of a daughter. I admire how the imagery that poet uses to describe the simple action of struggling to move her mother in a wheelchair also effectively hints at larger narrative. At the end of the poem, the mother’s words echo in my own ears, expanding their layered meaning.
I came across Waterfall by Larry Schug in the former local St. Cloud newsletter, Unabridged, exactly when I needed to read it. It was October of 2001, following the events of 9/11, and I, like most, felt shattered. Larry Schug’s words helped to put some frame around the possibility of hope for humanity, and helped to shine a light on a potential path forward.
Some of us believe that poems most inhabit the gaps between the words on the page. In this poem, Patrick Cabello Hansel sketches images of a family’s grief, leaving canvas for readers to take up the paint of imagination that allows for this girl to be animated in our minds. Doing so, we sense how it might be to inhabit her body, to feel those small pebbles kicking up on one day in her life.
Happy New Year from Sunday Morning Lyricality. Lyricality leadership team member Kelly Travis has chosen "Will Of A Prince" by Ed Bok Lee to wish us a year as beautiful, colorful, and well loved as Minnesota's cultural icon. Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to read: WILL OF A PRINCE by Ed Bok Lee. Four...
Matt Rasmussen has written a poem that will stop your breath. Reverse Suicide is a simple yet powerful poem that ends in the most haunting way. The out of order telling adds to the weight of this poem. Events go from negative to unsettling to brutal to hollow to mournful, until we end up alone in the yard with the narrator and his bother wanting to watch the leaves fall back up into the trees.