Monday, October 29, 2007

Two Poems: Isabella Mori

strega through the moonlight

strega through the moonlight
swishing by the stars with green-black robe,
waving long behind her, long, long, longer
than a comet’s hair.
strega luna, harvest moon behind her,
riding into autumn, riding towards snow,
into night and north and dark, dark caves,
into mysteries that stones know,
crows know, dark, cold clouds know,
deep into october, vember, cember
far towards a tiny ember
on the other side.

* * * *

judging judging judging

judging judging judging
her mouth too slim her teeth too small
his voice too loud his stories boring.
judging and then trying
to sit there, listen only, ears wide open,
heart without a curtain between them and me
soul without a them and me
just listening watching.
and then back to
judging judging judging
my judge too tough my mind too fast
my words so slurred my walls too high.
and then just
walking breathing driving seeing city lights –

the teetertotter
of being in this human cage.

* * * *

~ Isabella Mori is a therapist practicing in Vancouver, BC. You can read her blog, moritherapy, to find out more about her -- I'm a big fan of her blog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two Photos: John Craig



~ John Craig is a frequent contributer to Elegant Thorn Review. You can see more of his work (and buy prints) at his website.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Totality of Causes: Li-Young Lee and Tina Chang in Conversation

From The Academy of American Poets:

Chang: I read in an interview that you stopped using the word "God" and started using the word "Universe."

Lee: When I look at my shoe—or this cup, or this couch, or this jacket—if I think about how these things came to be, I'd have to account for the infinite net of circumstances, causes, and conditions that make each thing. We might as well say that each thing is a shape of the totality of causes. This is one shape of the totality of causes, that is another. But they look different.

And it seems to me that a poem is nothing less than that. It's not me who writes the poem, it's whether or not I had coffee that morning or did not, whether I ate red meat or did not, or whether I heard my sister singing in her room or did not. If you try to account for poem, you might think, it was that incident that I saw and that I wrote about, but it isn't. It's the temperature in the air, it's whether or not you had any sleep.

There's no way to account for any thing or any event. If you rigorously dissect it, you realize that everything is a shape of the totality of causes. What's another name for the totality of causes? The Cosmos. So everything is a shape of Cosmos or God. It feels like something bigger than me—that I can't possibly fathom—but am embedded in.

I think, too, that this is why the language in poetry is much more dense than in other conditions. Because, I think, the poet is actually experiencing the totality of causes. The poem somehow seems to have a 360-degree or spherical view of things. I think that's what makes poetic consciousness. That is, the consciousness that a poem imparts differs from other forms of consciousness.

Chang: In regard to writing poetry, Stanley Kunitz, said, "You have to move into areas of the self that remain to be explored, and that's one of the problems in maturing as a poet. By the age of fifty, the chances are that you've explored all the obvious places. The poems that remain for you to write will have to come out of your wilderness." By wilderness, he means the untamed self, all the chaos behind the locked door. Do you feel that you've explored all the obvious places or that you have more to discover?

Lee: Well, I feel both. I do feel that, as a yoga that one practices, writing poems is like any meditative path. You move through your own psychology, and then you move beyond your psychology. At that point it gets a little rough, because you have to posit something beyond your own psychology toward that which your psyche is embedded in. That adventure is, I think, an infinite proposition. That, to me, is the real wilderness. Beyond species-specific, beyond gender-specific, beyond culture-specific, what kind of poems are your cells writing? What kinds of poems come out of the space that is our bodies?

Read the whole interview.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Poem: AnnMarie Kolakowski

The Deposition of Belief

And when she picks up certain books---
the ones that gather sweet-smelling dust
as fragrant as a happy childhood
memory, shelved for Practical's sake---
the words move her again,
they spin her weathervane soul
and she shudders, to no one at all,
"This is true."

And when she goes to church, she still
finds seating in her favorite pew,
and whether it's time to stand or kneel
she strives to feel arisen, lifted high---
"These days, any emotion's worth a try."
Eyes to the arching ceiling, palms upturned,
she reverences every gesture
she has learned.

And when she hears the organ swell
she lends her voice, and tells herself
"Singing is like praying twice."
And her hymns shake that great edifice,
and all the prayers they pile tumble down
in witness to the omnipresent Frown,
its judgment seat in every human eye.
"I want to believe in God
before I die."

* * * *

~ AnnMarie Kolakowski has been selected for publication by Children, Churches and Daddies. This is her first time in Elegant Thorn Review.

Poem: Bryon D. Howell


My cat
used to be
an outdoor/indoor

She used to
playing catch with
field hockey with
hide and seek with
and tag, you're it -
with bees.

Today my cat,
is an indoor cat
due to circumstance
my control.

She hasn't been
in almost
4 years.

The other day,
a fly managed
to get

What a
welcome treat!

What a sight
for my cat's two

sore eyes.

They became -
the best of friends

* * * *

~ Bryon D. Howell is a poet currently residing in New Haven, Connecticut.
He has been writing poetry for a great number of years. Recently, work of his
has appeared in poeticdiversity, Red River Review and The Quirk.