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I’ve had the good fortune to be included in two online journals recently.  The most recent was in Rose Red Review, a quarterly with a charming, but sideways, picture of a woman wearing a rose.  I like to think that the name comes from the Rose Red who was the sister of Snow White (not she of the seven dwarfs, the other one).  My poem published there is titled “Reflection on a Line by James Wright.”

http://roseredreview.org/2012-winter-ellen-roberts-young/

In late fall, Untitled Country published my poem “Atomic Power”.  Unfortunately this ezine is going out of business, just as I’ve discovered it.

http://untitledcountry.blogspot.com/2012/11/final-issue.html

I find myself in good company in both places.  I recommend both as worthy of your time to explore.

“Atomic Power” is a poem which is not about what the title first suggests, on purpose.  It is a part of my collection of poems, Made and Remade, based on William Paley’s Natural Theology, a text from two centuries ago which had a long influence on thought and education in England and America.

Social Justice Then and Now: A Poem

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“Social Justice” is a poem in my Paley series, drawing on William Paley’s Natural Theology, published in 1802.  First, a quote from Paley:

Again, there are strong intelligible reasons, why there should exist in human society great disparity of wealth and station.  Not only as these things are acquired in different degrees, but at the first setting out of life.

Now, my response:

Social Justice

Paley never said society
should run like a watch, nor
that it operates as God intended,
efficient as a well-oiled mill, yet
he wanted even revolution to
be rational, restrained: no mobs
dragging out Tory sympathizers,
no armies beating back
impoverished protestors.

I stand at the Federal Building,
restrained by fear, as rational
friends, frustrated by the tick,
tick, tick of same old, same
old injustices, lie across doorways.
Their calculated choice includes
awareness that effects are often
not proportionate to causes,
anything can happen.

This poem is included in Ascent: Five Southwestern Woman Poets.  See Books page.

Introducing My Current Obsession

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“Obsession,” one of my poems in Ascent (see Books page) begins:

I’m fixed on this book
like a three-year-old on trucks,
a five-year-old on dinosaurs.  You could
make it my motif, were I young
enough for birthday parties.

The book I refer to is William Paley’s <i>Natural Theology</i>, published in 1802.  This book from a long past era presents nature, particularly the human body, as evidence not merely that there is a God but that this God is wise and good.   The eye, the ear, the joints: each is a sufficient example, in design and practicality, of the skill of the Maker.  While I soon recognized that Paley’s world view was one of fixed order, incompatible with my awareness of evolution and change, his delight in all levels of creation was contagious.

The watch with which Paley begins his discussion is a controlling metaphor: as a watch must have had a maker, so the forms of nature must have been designed.  Paley is drawn to and impressed by all manner of mechanics, of which the watch is just one example.  He equally admires mills, telescopes, the new iron bridge he sees over the Wear River, and other human inventions, especially those in which he finds a parallel to some natural form.

Having spent two years in this man’s company (the man is actually hidden behind the book, but I have come to talk as if this is as a personal acquaintance) I am now in the process of sorting and sifting the pieces that came out of this “time together” to create a book―my book in response to his book.

I have decided that obsession is a good thing for a writer.  Perhaps it is even a necessary thing in the development of one’s art.