Friday, December 9, 2016

Two Poems by Linda Parsons

Linda Parsons’ poems “Midsummer” and “Summers Ago” drew me like a moth to a light for the way they connect the poet's inner life with 
wonder for the natural world. In this cold season, she kindles memories of warmer times when those jewel-winged cicadas and furry moths 
wove into the tapestry of our own worlds.  

"Midsummer" and "Summers Ago"



Under the old redbud in the boulevard,
sound umbrellas our heads, lifted as to thunder,
Near oh near, they cry above us, and together,
though deaf in their midst, we speak the names
we have learned in lives brief and long. Cicada,
says my granddaughter, given by her mother.
Jarflies, I counter, word my grandmother broke
with half-runners on newsprint spread in our laps,
far, so far on that glider, that porch, those burnished
evenings. In the dying down, the four-year-old
affirms the stamp of science: ci-ca-da, not yet
surefooted in the gloaming, the papers we’ll flatten
with corn shucks, oilcan she’ll fetch for our rocking
to and fro. In the new ringing, like all deepness
wrung from pitched joy, we look and look
for the red eyes, the jewel wings, near,
          oh near in the shattered still-lit night.


Summers Ago

          Wings and wings
of summers ago, millers and cabbage moths
bartered for a minute more on this bright earth,
greedy hopes flung night after night at the porch
lamp. Globe heaped high, nearest their one hot
desire, thorax and antennae like the bony dead
in hunger times and war.

          To spark the new bulb,
I scoop handfuls from the socket, flutter
hundreds to nandina and spurge, wiping
my hands of silvery lives. In nervous flight
over ticking grasses, in waning incandescence,
summers past sawed a fiddle-dee-dee.

          We bargain the same,
for one day more in the sweetest arms
Brief filaments redeemed in a pool of amber,
driven ever toward the light, we batter
our constant hearts against the screen,
winter’s gray rattle circling. 


"Midsummer" and "Summers Ago" appear in This Shaky Earth, Texas Review Press, 2016 

Both poet and playwright, Linda Parsons is an editor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She served as poetry editor of Now & Then magazine for many years and has received literary fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission, as well as the Associated Writing Programs' Intro Award and the 2012 George Scarbrough Award in Poetry, among others. Parsons' poetry has appeared in journals such as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Asheville Poetry Review, and Shenandoah and in numerous anthologies. This Shaky Earth, published by Texas Review Press, is her fourth poetry collection. Her dramatic adaptation, Macbeth Is the New Black, co-written with Jayne Morgan, was produced at Maryville College and Western Carolina University. Her play Under the Esso Moon was selected for the Tennessee Stage Company's 2016 New Play Festival and will receive a staged reading in 2017. Parsons' work is leavened with a hunger to understand the upheavals of childhood and its growing pains, to be fed full to bursting on life's vegetable immensity, to face the passing seasons with grace, where all she knows of this black-eyed earth is perishing even as it flowers. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Thinking Small

“I’m a fool for tiny things . . . ” -- when recently recalling that line in Dan’s poem, I was inspired to make my own "Witness" video 
full of gnats, mites, and, of course, my take on those "crickety-looking things" forever chirping around us  . . . .
                                                                                                                                         -- Suzanne



Lately I’ve slowed the speeding day
by fixing my gaze
                         on the smallest
     gnats the shape of an eyelash,   
     mites minute
     as grains of salt.
it’s a crickety-looking thing.
Bent legged.  Pale-green translucent
wings.  No larger than a crumb
of morning toast, & too near
the drain where I brush
my teeth.
                I’m a fool
for tiny lives admiring
their silence.  I’ve borne them
away from daily harm
                  on paper scraps
   under wings,
           crushing them,
        at times,
with well-meant
kindness . . . before making it
         down the steps,
    & out
to the garden
where I try to place them
on something
            Like this one
    that seems too slight
    to survive my
& I can’t stand here
all night long!
             So into the kitchen,
   rinse & spit,
         then back again
for one last look.  It’s
           Oh tiny breathing thing,
                  I really
     meant to save myself
& don’t, for certain, know
from what.  But you?
                      If you’ve
dared to hop
                     or creep
                                   or flit
     into another night, I’ll
trust my own small life
once more to dark
                                                                             & sleep.

“Witness”  first appeared in Artful Dodge.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Poem by Robert P. Arthur

For our March Red Eft video, our guest poet is Robert P. Arthur.

“To be part of the Chesapeake Bay is to have skin of water,” Bob Arthur replied, when I told him how much "Where Do the Crabs Go?" 
intrigued me. And he continued: “Did you know that crabs migrate to the sea and die, but every once in a while turn back to their 
former waters and live a second life?"  Life / death, human / crab, waterman / poet -- all commingle in this mysterious lyric of the sea.
                                                                                                                                                                             -- Suzanne 

Where Do the Crabs Go?

Where Do the Crabs Go?

Where do the crabs go
            leaving their shadows behind them
What presses their return from
            the autumnal reef

In the winter I shall row with a
            stranger beside me
Call him an old hand, ready with the sail
Let the stranger spend his knowledge
            of all things passing
The fiery sun that blushes to be born
The stirrings in the cottages
            and demarcations of the gull
I shall row from the darkness of my
            brain to where charts have no meaning
And my friends of the air cannot see one another

And should you move with me
beyond the shallows
Your petticoats behind you
And the tide at an oar

We may hope to discover no eddying
            of days, or hands, or shoals
Only ourselves—ghosts of light
            and tireless travelers
Some fisherman on the bay will look
            up from his catch and say
            with a blue sook listening
I am a living thing

I breathe and I am dying

But that is not what we’ll whisper
           with our voices of shelled things
In our skins of water

"Where Do the Crabs Go?" appears in the book-length sequence Hymn to the Chesapeake (Rolling Olive Press, 2015).

Robert P. Arthur is the current President of the Poetry Society of Virginia 
and twice a finalist for Poet Laureate of Virginia. He has produced books 
of poetry, plays, and fiction, including the book-length poem, Hymn to the 
ChesapeakeHe's known nationally and internationally for bringing poetry 
to the stage, with performances in such places as Virginia, San Francisco, 
New York City, and St. Petersburg, Russia. He lives in Virginia Beach with 
his wife, Gray, and is the father of five children. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Another Year?

As I replaced our 2015 calendar with a 2016, I thought about Dan’s poem “Every Year’s the Same . . . Yet Nothing’s Quite the Same 
Each Year.” And wondering what small changes might surprise us in the months ahead, this poem seemed the natural one to begin
the new Red Eft year.

I painted a number of the images in this video onto leaves gathered from our old front yard magnolia, and later photographed
them outside on heaps of unpainted ones. That was a first for me -- merging paintings with the earth’s own crusty leaf litter!
                                                                                                                                                    — Suzanne

Every Year's the Same . . . Yet Nothing's Quite the Same Each Year


Every Year’s the Same . . . Yet Nothing’s Quite
the Same Each Year
                                       Nothing steadfast is.  Everything
  becomes.  You cannot step twice
  into the same river, for fresh
  waters are always flowing in
  upon you.
                                                                             — Heraclitus

My body slower but the failing eye more true,
I’ve learned the subtle law of Heraclitus. Last year
Salamanders gleaming beneath logs in swampy lowland
Near the stream. This year arid, waters low: under logs
Only the stillness of grey dust. But red-eyed locusts
Everywhere:  risen shrill to treetops. Thirteen years
Bowed deep into the parched fields of slow dream,
Compressed into a moment’s mating call. Then death. 
Last year itching tingle of mosquitoes where I’d fished
For glittering bream; this year, fishless, circled only by
The softer buzz of gnats. Just when I say butterflies
No longer flit like flakes of sun beneath dark caverns
Of the lower limbs of pines (missing tiger swallowtails
Along our woodland trail), the fritillaries, gone for years,
Return. Float down, wings spread with silver moons,
To sip mud by the wooden bridge spanning the waters
Where I lean to reminisce. This year my sideburns
Definitely grey, and glasses now . . . But desires
Much the same. The eye a shade more true. 


“Every Year’s the Same . . .”  first appeared in BoulevardSt. LouisMissouri

Paintings on magnolia leaves: salamander and cicada