Oh, Zelda

gatsby_final_6_19_15 copy

Los Angeles’s Silver Birch Press just released an anthology dedicated to “The Great Gatsby,” and I am thrilled that my poem “Oh, Zelda” was selected as part of the book. The poem is about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda, who was a tumultuous part of Fitzgerald’s fame, fortune and misfortune.

If anyone is interested in ordering copies of the book, please click here to be directed to Amazon.

Below is my poem:

 

Oh, Zelda

 

Pretty much, you

were a crazy bitch.

 

Incensed by beauty

in others, talent in others.

 

No one else was Zelda.

Zelda painting. Zelda

 

writing. Zelda dancing.

Zelda loving. Zelda

 

interrupting. No one had

your husband. Or your

 

name. A belle,

at times, more often

 

a tease. Bad Zelda, who

silenced entire books.

 

Drunk Zelda, who shut

them down like boys.

 

All the rage, all of it,

yours. Sorry Zelda,

 

making the cottage

beds, blowing softly

 

at the suffering fire.

Sweet Zelda, who says

 

it won’t be so. Again

the happy host. Again

 

the righteous muse, who,

for a second, stood right

 

upon the floor. But,

silly Zelda, you boiled

 

a pot of rings and gold,

and you got taken

 

to the crazy home.

The unwell woman

 

in the attic, with you,

told decades too late.

 

No new love

or worried young girl

 

could save you from

the locked doors above,

 

the savage blaze below.

 

 

After Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast”

Flirtation

poetry, writing
Rita Dove was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 1993 when she was just forty years old. By then, though, she had written a few novels and several collections of poetry, including Thomas and Beulah (1986), which won the Pulitzer Prize.
The poem below is not an example of how Dove confronts complex historical issues in her work, brings them home and makes them personal. Rather, it is a light piece, a flirtation. But, it’s summer now, officially, and school’s out. So I thought we all deserved a little fun.
Flirtation
After all, there’s no need
to say anything

 

at first. An orange, peeled
and quartered, flares

 

like a tulip on a wedgewood plate
Anything can happen.

 

Outside the sun
has rolled up her rugs

 

and night strewn salt
across the sky. My heart

 

is humming a tune
I haven’t heard in years!

 

Quiet’s cool flesh—
let’s sniff and eat it.

 

There are ways
to make of the moment

 

a topiary
so the pleasure’s in

 

walking through.
Photo credit: “The Flirtation” by Adolf Alexander Dillens

Yellow Tomatoes

Thrilled that VerseWrights published my poem “Yellow Tomatoes” this month!

 

I once thought I could know anything

The death knowledge of the Buddha
The clarifying call of Gabriel
Former lives and abetting suns
That enthrall worlds more able than mine

I too never doubted my time supply
To be the daughter of the dying father
Who buries without the blow of love regret

But my father is dying an excessive death
With a wounded body that aligns
Rare moments of life
To the faint efforts of his mind

And I do

I offer my happy baby’s dance
Ask about our mayor and the bad president
So together
We can wave our related heads with a laugh

I bring home the foods he likes to eat
Chocolate sugar-free
A bag of sweet yellow tomatoes
That falls when his good hand forgets to grab

And when he insists on phoning my mother
Makes a promise that he won’t speak drink
I dial

I do I dance

Far from the Buddha knowledge of the giving death
Deaf to the recurring chant of Gabriel
Books by my bed and worlds of grace
That I grasp

But lack the good hand with which to grab

 

Originally published in “Pea River Journal

Credit Where Credit Is Due

 Just read the above book review on Milan Kundera’s latest novel “The Festival of Insignificance” and felt like chucking the paper itself across the room. Maybe Kundera’s last oeuvre isn’t up to par with his past works, but come on — show the man some respect!  

When a critic is drastic like this I lose all trust in their judgement and actually feel more inclined to go out and buy the book. 

Stay Inside

800px-Caffe_Reggio_01The other day, I read a poem whose beginning I didn’t quite like. But, it was weird enough to keep me hooked to its very last line, which made me laugh out loud and reread the poem several times, appreciating it more and more with each go.

The piece is by poet Paul Violi, who published eleven collections of poetry during his lifetime and continues to be published after his death. Violi received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, nearly every important poetry grant in the U.S. and taught English at Columbia University. So, he knew what he was doing.

When he chose to begin the poem below with “We,” or when he decided to put the word “Grammarians” in its title, or when he rambled for a bit, he knew what he was doing.  He was winding up to deliver a wildly unexpected punchline.

It always feels good to laugh, especially if this laughter is the result of a carefully crafted poem.

 

Appeal to the Grammarians
We, the naturally hopeful,
Need a simple sign
For the myriad ways we’re capsized.
We who love precise language
Need a finer way to convey
Disappointment and perplexity.
For speechlessness and all its inflections,
For up-ended expectations,
For every time we’re ambushed
By trivial or stupefying irony,
For pure incredulity, we need
The inverted exclamation point.
For the dropped smile, the limp handshake,
For whoever has just unwrapped a dumb gift
Or taken the first sip of a flat beer,
Or felt love or pond ice
Give way underfoot, we deserve it.
We need it for the air pocket, the scratch shot,
The child whose ball doesn’t bounce back,
The flat tire at journey’s outset,
The odyssey that ends up in Weehawken.
But mainly because I need it – here and now
As I sit outside the Caffe Reggio
Staring at my espresso and cannoli
After this middle-aged couple
Came strolling by and he suddenly
Veered and sneezed all over my table
And she said to him, “See, that’s why
I don’t like to eat outside.”
Photo Credit: Joe Mabel, interior of the Caffe Reggio in New York City
–Originally published in Zeteo Journal

Worst Writing of the Year

  

Lately, I read little else other than a GRE test-prep book. So no, I don’t have incredible literary passages to share. 

But today I read a question so terribly written that it may be the poorest writing I’ve read in 2015. 

The worst part, though, is not having to read it, but having to reread it and reread it and reread it.