Amy Lemmon’s book of poems, The Miracles, is a meditation on life after loss, and its themes are motherhood, love, and aging. Lemmon writes, “The structure of the book was inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (1949) for solo clarinet and jazz ensemble.”
I sat on the basement floor of the courthouse reading through old death records. Outside the afternoon sun blasted the streets and sidewalks of the small Kentucky town. But down there it was cool and humid. Whitewashed stone walls glistened and streaked with dirty moisture. An air conditioner rattled in the only window, blocking out the sun.
I got the results from the paternity test and an offer for a new job on the same day. The paternity test was positive; I was the father. The new job was cutting meat at Chives, a specialty grocery store in Boulder. On my lunch break I texted my twin sister Maria that I wanted to share two things with her on Skype. I told my coworker, Lance, the news after work at Hank’s, our regular bar.
Another surly October morning on Rathdangan Farm, the name of our rocky little homestead in the foothills of the Sugarloaf Range, and Mother Nature was in a nasty mood. Her swirling wind bossed the sycamore leaves around the farmyard, and wisps of her clammy fog still clung to the steep mountain peak in the distance. My mother—we called her Mammy— was a whirlwind of work, as usual: milking cows, feeding calves and pigs, washing clothes, holding it all together.
Michael Bazzett’s chapbook, The Imaginary City, highlights the unlikely partnership of humor and the long syntax of suspense. His poems often center on a fear, something frightening from childhood, from an unknown place where everything familiar is off.
TERI YOUMANS GRIMM is the author of Dirt Eaters, published by the University Press of Florida. Her writing has also appeared in Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, Connecticut Review, South Dakota Review, Sugar House Review and Homegrown in Florida: An Anthology of Florida Childhoods, among other publications. She currently teaches in the low-res MFA program at the University of Nebraska.
Through If I Falter at the Gallows, there’s a sense of religious constraint that seems to stem from the city and from the pressure of being in society, now. These are poems of the mind with plenty of “is,” joking uneasily with the rhythm of the way things are.
Mitch and I had hefted the sofa onto the front steps to angle it through the door when a woman in a yellow convertible that had likely been a good-looking car about fifteen years ago screeched into the driveway.
The language I want to speak will be like bumper cars for the dead. It’ll grow lianas in the jungle gym. It has a wail like you’ve never heard before. There’s a flock of black storks fuming hospital in that wail.
No person who has never been the cause of another person’s death can understand the plight, which becomes the life, of the person who has. For instance—
A messy life inhabits these pages, but it’s a life that’s interesting to explore, and while it is, of course, unique, it’s also a life to which any writer can relate–a life in which the desire to tell stories and to be heard means so very, very much.
ANGELA PATTEN is author of two poetry collections, Reliquaries and Still Listening, both published by Salmon Poetry, Ireland.