Monday, September 24, 2007

Two Poems: Karen Engelmeyer

The Kitten

When you asked me
whether I could
look after the kitten,
the one you'd found cowering
beneath your front steps,
that you'd taken in and fed
and now slept tentatively
(as though, already, she understood
the capriciousness of life),
on your living room floor
amid the mess and joyfulness
that, I imagine, is your daily existence, I said, "yes" almost immediately -
even before you mentioned winter looming, broached the possibility of snow,
the inevitable below-freezing temperatures.

Puzzled, and unsure
of my hasty response,
I thought of my father, long dead,
and how he'd wept
when I left him at the nursing home.
I remembered his face -
as I tried to explain
that I could no longer look after him
now that he had started to wander
in the night.

* * * * *

Going Back to West 87th Street

Yesterday when I phoned you
to tell you I had gone back
twenty-five years
and stood in our living room
with the brick wall
and the tiny adjacent kitchen
on West 87th Street -
I wanted to tell you
I had felt our love too.

You brimming
with stories about
your night
on stage.
Me, in your paisley robe,
laughing - no crying -
with delight
at your cleverness.

And then,
Your sadness
Engulfed me
like a giant wave and I was
gasping for breath.
After all these years I
still can't contain it -
that sadness
which followed us
like a shroud.

* * * * *

~ Karen Engelmeyer is an English (as in UK) English teacher working in the Princeton, NJ area and a closet poet. She's just started to submit her poems. This is her first appearance in ETR.

Two Poems: Jean Aldriedge

Face It

turn it over
a new leaf
the situation
before you
going on
in a
impulse upon

* * * * *

Morning Air
Cool brisk
Bitter cold
Followed me
Down to
The vale by
The crooked lake.
Chilly air
And iced
Dew as
We tangled
Across the fields
And through a
To the creek. Cold
Skies and
A gray moon

* * * * *

~ Jean Aldriedge is a new contributer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Poem: Tim J Brennan

Father is Talking

about arms needing to reach
out to brush grass from her back,
telling her everything she will ever
need is still here, will always be
green & budding like spring


about a voice, a throat pinked
and smooth and still working,
speaking of Betty, the dancer,
clicking her heels at Bar Harbor
to Rosemary Clooney’s “Beautiful
Brown Eyes” or Johnnie Ray’s “Cry”

I am 1951, his voice says, I am

and he still listens from another
room like a womb at the edge of water
that evening his life was born


about feet moving, tiptoeing across a glass
floor, bubbles being thrown above their heads,
and her believing the evening was nothing more
than a little box filled with tinsel & triangles


about eyes picturing a ripe summer, telling
her she is beautiful without speaking, thinking
of a rose, instead offering a white daisy

“love,” he says, “is all about opportunity”


about words that are so far apart they are
more like fireflies, blinking short messages
like after the music stops, let’s go lean
against my car while kissing or better yet,
let’s look at stars until we both go blind


about tongues and red licorice, and how they
go together and how they sweet and curl
and how she still liked both, even after
forty-seven years of marriage


about missing all those things


~ Tim J Brennan lives in Austin, MN. He is a frequent contributer.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Review - Charles Wright: Littlefoot

Charles Wright is my favorite living poet, and one who is distinctly spiritual in his approach and content. This article appeared in the News Observer (North Carolina).

The graceful pilgrim carries on

Poetic careers take all sorts of paths. You've got your Allen Ginsberg, who burst onto the scene with what became his most famous poem, "Howl," and then he sort of noodled around for the rest of the run, becoming a personality as much as poet. Or you've got Sylvia Plath, who wrote most of her best work in the months before her suicide and was not around to see it gain the attention it deserved.And then you've got Charles Wright. Born in the mountains of Tennessee, Wright spent his early life in the lush landscapes of the Southern Appalachian mountains where his father, a civil engineer, helped build dams for the TVA. The arc of his career has been a steady hike beginning in those landscapes and heading straight for the celestial questions that arose out of early religious training at isolated places like Sky Valley camp in Western North Carolina and Christ School in Arden. He's won a host of major awards including the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His big project has been a trilogy of trilogies, nine books that taken together he calls "The Appalachian Book of the Dead." But in all that, Wright has continued to explore his approach to the poetic line, his use of narrative and his arrangement of images. This summer he published his 18th book, "Littlefoot." The title comes, somewhat enigmatically, from a horse on Wright's Montana ranch, where he spends his summers. But corralling enigmas is part of Wright's mission.

His is a pilgrim's journey of both technique and subject matter.

Read the rest of this review.