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Sharing My Poetry

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I had the pleasure of an interview with Lynn Moorer this week about my poetry book Made and Remade on KTAL, the Las Cruces Community Radio station. The interview is now on their website at:

https://www.lccommunityradio.org/archives

It was fun to return to this book published in 2014 and feel that the poems still resonate. As I read “Shared Ground” it occurred to me that the end has current relevance:

If the universe has a maker
is it made less lonely?
My legs being made for walking
their notion settles my spirit.

I thought of how many are frustrated in their isolation these days. I hope all have, as I do, the release of something like walking to keep yourselves in balance.

Check out the link to hear that and six more poems.

Thanks to Lynn for this opportunity.

My new chapbook TRANSPORTED is open for pre-orders at Finishing Line Press!

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England, Paris, Greece, Rome: a European grand tour at age 12?

Evacuation from Egypt was the pivot point of a two-year adventure during my childhood when my father got a Fulbright grant to teach English abroad.  The poems in TRANSPORTED describe and reflect on that experience and how it shaped the person I became.

TRANSPORTED is listed on the Finishing Line Press website at:
https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/transported-by-ellen-roberts-young/.

Preorders are what make the publication happen. The period for preorders closes November 28.

The cost is $14.99 plus $2.99 shipping.
The intended ship date is January 22, 2021.

I invite all my friends and relations and readers to have a look, and place an order if you like what you see.

Thanks and Praise for San Pedro River Review

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The latest issue of San Pedro River Review includes a poem of mine.  More on that below.  It’s an all poetry journal which fits some sixty poets into an issue.  Some of the names are familiar to me from their submissions to Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders, which makes me feel that there is indeed a community of poets.

And I like the fact that they don’t print the poems in order by the poets’ last names (being a Young, this has often bothered me) but take the time to arrange the poems in an interesting sequence.  This is something I’ve recently learned to do as an editor of Sin Fronteras.

The poem they’ve printed is, for me, a longer one called “Crossing the Heartland,” It draws on over a decade, now past, of driving from New Mexico to Maine and back every year.  It attempts to combine the routine of such travel with the ruminations of the mind as one drives.

Wind hits the car as an old
eighteen-wheeler without deflector passes.
Shielded in metal and glass we drive
for hours between corn fields and bean fields,

Here is my view of two familiar highways:

U.S. Highways, sensible and straight
in the west, trick us: Highway 54,
so lean and lovely through Kansas,
winds into Missouri hills, the main street
of bustling lakeside resorts.  Highway 50,
broad and smooth into West Virginia,
turns Appalachian, weary, worn
and ragged as the homes it passes.

San Pedro River Review is edited by Jeffrey and Tobi Alfier.  It comes out twice a year.  More information can be found at http://www.bluehorsepress.com

Delight in Distraction

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Thinking about fires in a fireplace, because we have a fire in our summer cottage on cool mornings when I’m writing, I ask myself whether “hearth” refers only to what the fire rests on or the whole fireplace.

I open the dictionary.  It means the stone under the fire.  But my eye catches the word “hearth-tax.”  In seventeenth century England and Wales, I read, a hearth tax of two shillings a year was levied for each hearth.

Now I want to know:  Is this the original form of the property taxes we pay for our houses?  How much did two shillings buy in the 1600s?  Did people complain about what their tax was paying for and how high it was?

Could I use this in a poem?  And how am I supposed to get back to work?

But I couldn’t write without a dictionary.  Mine is a one volume version of the OED.  When I pause to look up a word – usually for its etymology, its base meaning – I feel fully engaged in my language.

Another Minor Poem for this Time

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This came from the prompt: what is an inanimate object trying to tell you?

Messages

He says the microwave is talking to him.
What’s she saying, Henry?  She says,
“Noli me tangere.  The last person
may have been exposed.”  She says
it’s time to work from home.

We have no microwave at home;
our toaster oven serves us very well.
“Don’t take me for granted,” toaster
protests, “I can only do what I can.”

Does the second line sound familiar?  It’s a quotation from Finian’s Rainbow.  The boy Henry interprets the message of the mute dancer.  A traveling company performed the musical in my high school auditorium in my youth.  Some things stick for a long time, reappearing when least expected.  That’s one of the deep pleasures of writing.

Prompted

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In April I subscribed to the daily prompts put out by Two Sylvias Press.  I’ve done this before, I always get behind, and I do well if half of the prompts lead to something useful.  A few prompts spark new poems, but more often I produce what I think of as “pomelets” (“pome -lets” sounds better to me than “po-emlets”).

Here’s one, my response to the prompt: write a journal entry for a famous fictional character:

Roadrunner’s Journal

It’s a living, harassing Coyote,
somebody has to do it,
but is it a life?  Wish I could
find a mate, breed chicks,
a next generation, a legacy of sorts,
though I hear offspring can be unreliable,
reject their parents’ values,
go off their own way.  Mine
wouldn’t leave the desert would they?
That golf course, damp and green,
might tempt them to deny their heritage.
I only go to visit, briefly.

Roadrunners have a challenge figuring out how to coexist with the increasing number of humans, and their golf courses, in their territory.  I saw two in a neighbor’s front yard on one of my walks recently and wondered where they make their nest.

Image Problem, In Reverse

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Has anyone else been struck by how elegant, how almost attractive, some of the images for the coronavirus are on television?

Image Problem

All those flower-like
protrusions as if marketing
designed a logo for it, as if
it were not ugly—and
too small to see.

Are these trumpets signaling
attack, mouths to gobble
the good microbes, suction
cups structured to latch
onto surfaces or cells?

What marks the defense
against this enemy?  Where
are their marketers, their
support-our-troops posters?

Birthday Flowers

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My mother, Emily, in her prime

 

Today is my mother’s birthday.  She would have been 99.  No one in our family has lived to such an age; it’s apparently not in our genetic code.

If church were meeting, I would be bringing flowers this week.  The last job my mother had was as church secretary for her Unitarian church.  Among her duties was bringing flowers if no one had signed up to do so.  And so I honor her with flowers.

 

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This year, not needing a large bouquet, I picked a few from my garden.  Snapdragons don’t last long as cut flowers, but they offer a cheerful mix of colors, appropriate to the Easter season.

An Easter Story

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Lee Van Ham’s new book, “The Liberating Birth of Jesus” came out in late fall.  The timing and the title might lead one to expect that it’s a story of Christmas.  It’s not, though there’s mention of how our culture crowds out the full meaning of Jesus’ birth.

It’s an Easter story.  Specifically, it’s about two Easter people, whom we know as Matthew and Luke, who wrote for Easter people, to help preserve for future generations the mind-blowing experience of encountering Jesus.

Why do we have these two birth narratives in the gospels of Matthew and Luke?  Because each writer is using different but complementary ways of making the case that the Jesus whom the early Christians encountered brought them to a new consciousness, a new creation.

Van Ham works through all the pieces of the story, the magi from afar, the shepherds close by, genealogy and dreams and angels, showing how they point to the arrival of a new creation.  For us today, this new way of seeing can lead us to living radical creation-centered lives.

Christmas as we know it came in with government-sanctioned Christianity in the fourth century of our era.  Over and over, the Easter message has been co-opted by human institutions.  Over and over, prophets arise to bring us back to the main point: the energy of Easter that is a new beginning.

“The Liberating Birth of Jesus” is a short but solid book that would make a good group study.  I highly recommend it.

Spring Photos

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Many plants are blooming now.  There are still poppies.poppies10230I expect this area to have more poppies next year.  The seeds have no place to go now that the plants have reached the wall.

pink10229This plant, whose name I cannot remember although I bought it, has dutifully bloomed all winter, but not so energetically as it is doing now.

Apache Plume0236The apache plume has begun to come out.  It’s named for its feathery seed heads, but the white flowers are much more visible.

Most of my gardening is in the back yard, where no one but me has much chance to see it, but this indian hawthorn that came with the house puts on a show for a brief time in spring.Front bush10233

And for an extra touch in the front yard I took the palm branch (it’s plastic) which was delivered from church with other materials to use for worship in holy week, and tied it to my front gate.palm0234

It blows nicely in the wind, but it may not be fit to return for reuse next year.

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