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Reading a Poem: Mannone’s “Carrots”

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scan0002This is another poem I was particularly taken with from the current issue of Red Coyote. (Presented with the author’s permission.)

Carrots

John C. Mannone

My grandfather’s fingers shook a little
until they clamped the base of the plant
as if ready to yank weeds.  Gently,
he coaxed the root to the surface—
the bulbous end cresting loamy clay.
Muted orange poked through the soil
as if a morning sun lifting through mist.
Dirt clung to the carrot.  He rubbed it
off leaving that good scent of earth
on his hands.  He snapped the green leaf
canopy clear off, let it drop to the ground,
and dangled the tapered end in front
of my face.  The tendrils whiskering
the carrot caught the same glints
as grandpa’s white hairs stubbling his chin.
He urged me to take a bite, to feel
that cool crisp flesh of carrot on my tongue,
taste its earthy sweetness.

I was barely six.  His blue eyes winked
with wisdom.  He said carrots were good
for my eyes, that they would help me see
more clearly the world outside this garden.

Here are my thoughts as I read, and reread this poem.  What caught me up first was the detail of slow description of what is a fairly brief event: details like noting when the boy is seeing the bulbous end or the tapering end of the carrot.

Second, the word choices.  “Bulbous” is not a plain word. I particularly notice the way “whisker” is used as a verb and applied to the carrot, not the white hairs on a chin.  The “same glints” on the two caught my attention also, because I’ve seen such glints in early morning sun.

Another good touch is the delaying of the boy’s age until the short second stanza.  Now we meet the one for whom this very ordinary event is not ordinary at all.  And when the poem ends on “the world outside this garden” how could this garden not be Eden?

John C. Mannone has contributed to Sin Fronteras Journal, of which I am one of the editors.  I look forward to seeing more of his work wherever it appears.

Find out how you can contribute to Sin Fronteras Journal at http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com.  Submissions are open until June 30.

Sin Fronteras Journal Issue #20

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SF 20 cover0001 The twentieth issue of Sin Fronteras Journal has arrived from the printer.  This is my fifth year as one of the editors.  I’m pleased to have helped the Journal move into the digital age with a website, http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com, and this year, for the first time, email submissions.

The work of 43 contributors from the U.S. and abroad is featured in this issue of the Journal.  Many different kinds of borders and border crossings are represented, as well as a variety of New Mexico and southwest contexts.  And some other pieces that are just good poems.

The submission period for Issue #21 begins now. Please check the submissions page on the journal website for updated guidelines.  This editor would like to see more submissions including Spanish – either as poem with translation or the languages mingled in one piece.  We get very few of these each year and would like more to choose from.

Sin Fronters Journal Moves to Production

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The editorial decisions have been made. The acceptance and rejection notices have gone out (the last of them just this weekend). Now Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Issue #20 moves to the production phase.

It has been a busy summer.  We had many more submissions once we opened an email address. Half-again as many for poetry and about three times what we’ve had before for prose. We had a lot to work with and we think this will be a good issue. It is exciting to receive material from many different places around the world. We accepted more but we also had to turn down more than in the past few years.

After this first experience with email submissions, you can expect some changes in procedures next year. Be sure to check the website(www.sinfronterasjournal.com)  for the reopening of submissions in Spring, 2016.