Monday, September 26, 2016

Visit by Christian Formoso

On Friday, September 30, a well-known young Chilean poet, Christian Formoso, will be coming to Charlottesville.  His visit is co-sponsored by the Live Poets Society and the JMRL’s Central Library.

Christian has won the Pablo Neruda Prize for poetry in his native country.  He will be presenting some of his work at the Central Library’s McIntire Room in downtown Charlottesville, along with his two U.S. co-translators, Terry Hermsen and Sydney Tammarine.  (Christian is bilingual, having earned both of his graduate degrees in the U.S.)  The program will begin at 7 pm; it is free and open to the public.  

Christian, Terry, and Sydney will do a 45-minute reading from Christian’s ambitious collection The Most Beautiful Cemetery in Chile, moving back and forth between English and Spanish.  Then they will open it up for discussion about the art and challenges of translation, as well as any other questions the audience might have.  

The Most Beautiful Cemetery in Chile is set in Christian’s hometown of Punta Arenas, which lies along the Strait of Magellan in Chile’s southernmost Patagonia region.  The actual Cemetery of Punta Arenas, a public cemetery, is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, and is a National Monument of Chile.

The book is primarily a series of reflections and dramatic monologues which give voice to different people buried in the cemetery.  Collectively, they add up to a dramatized version of 500 years of Chilean history.  You might think of it as an ambitious Chilean counterpart to Edgar Lee Masters Spoon River Anthology, crossed with Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues such as “Fra Lippo Lippi” and “My Last Duchess.”  Copies of the book will be available for sale after the program.  

I’m hoping you will be able to attend, and can encourage your friends, colleagues, neighbors, and students to come hear and meet Christian as well.  Please contact me if you have any questions--or any suggestions for more ways to get the word out about this event. 

Tony Russell

Christian Formoso in the Cemetery of Punta Arenas
Photo by Janina Alveal

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Back in the Day

Back in the day  
before the ravages of time and injuries settled into joints
I could squat – 
but I can’t bend those knees that much anymore!
Back in the day
I could have run this 5 K race with you -
or at least most of it!
Back in the day
before the crow’s feet of time
etched a road map on my face,
I could look in the mirror
and see smooth skin, 
and bright eyes
which could read tiny print -
but are now clouded 
with the beginning of cataracts.
Back in the day
before organs sagged and excess weight crept on,
I could travel without a suitcase of supplements and
other personal necessities –
but I am grateful it is not medicines or medical paraphernalia!
And I plan to keep it that way!
I would instantly take back my youth – but only if I could
keep the experience and wisdom I have gained with time!

© Beverly Diane Harner, 2012

York River 5K Race during Estuaries Day 2015
Photos by Jon T. & John G.
from Wikimedia Commons 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Insides of An Onion

Behind closed doors I write
and think to never show these words
to other eyes.
They are for me alone,
but secretly I long for immortality.

I dream that one day,
when I am but a memory,
some kindred soul will read my poems,
packed away in some old attic trunk
with pictures yellowing in an album, 
and understand the person buried deep within...
smiling always on demand,
but hiding other selves
like the insides of an onion.

© Peg Latham,  2016

File:Onion slice.jpg
One half onion
Photo by Ranveig (talk 1 contribs)
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 29, 2016

These Teeth

These teeth would require stout boots
If you wanted to traverse them
Just for sport or perhaps in search
Of the living language that lies 
In the darker cavern just behind.

These teeth don’t take rollerskates
The ones that the frozen lake teeth 
Of the great blond cheerleaders 
Advertise for triumphant swoops
Across their perfectly icy surfaces.

These teeth were made on wellwater
Still hold shades of the grey granite
That still sets the underground tone
Of the New England woods I walked
Thinking about anything but teeth.

These teeth take on new colors
Every year, off-whites of crowns
Browns of coffee, darkening lights
Of red wines Nebbiolos and Cabernets
And Pinots that make the blood sing.

These teeth resemble my father’s
On his last day, gray ruins running
North forever like the stone walls
Of my boyhood woods leading me
Always into country I do not know.

These teeth are the only bones
That show, even though the others
Wait just below the skin 
Or sheath of muscle fascia
To reveal the last white silence.

These teeth are the last barricade
Of good judgment before words
I cannot take back fly forth
To build walls just as invisible
As the loneliness they inflame.

These teeth need something to bite into
Something that feeds the flame
In the soft center of this hard shell
Some food not found on the shelves
Of the store aisles we wander all day.

© Bill Prindle, 2016

Stone wall and bridge; Tolland County, Connecticut
Photo by Ken Holm
Library of Congress
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 22, 2016

With Friends on the Blue Ridge Many Years Ago

On the mellow mountain my friends and I
Wooed tricky streams and felt up trees.
Each strange leaf honored and many kissed,
We sipped perfect water and pissed in peace.
Insects embroidered music; light was an animal
Little but not weak that played hide-and-seek.
We pretended to argue and were almost sincere
Or more than sincere in bartering praise.
It is unchangeable fact that air adored our lungs—
And awed on a tall but considerate stone
We were instructed by color, the costume of the sky.
Since then our brains like acrobats,
Trained in secret, in gaudy caves
Have sometimes been loyal, have sometimes betrayed;
Our flesh sometimes failed; fear turned expert.
Death or shame is a judge who won’t forget;
Who insists on a decision though we soar from jail
In recklessly innocent, half-honest joy.
Despite the crime of our clumsiness,
We remember the silver,
The purity of delight,
Synesthesia and sinlessness,
The unstained yearning
Of our voices sustained
By undeceived inconceivable
Blessable air.

In the mystical mistiness
Of our blue mellow mountain
We yet track the trickiness
Of streams green as grass.
We still follow the untreacherous
Unfailing glow of air.
Does cruelty rule? Have our hearts changed to ash?
But the tall altar stands! The music remains!

       © Stephen Margulies, 2016

Blue Ridge Mountains
Photo by J├╝rgen Nagel
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

For When You Are Sick In Bed

When you are sick in bed
With an array of wrinkled pillows ’round your head
It’s like “get through another day.”
“Get through another night.”

But nights aren’t really that bad
When you can watch the sunrise 
Lighting your window
Or contemplate the world outside.

You can choose to have visits
From each of your children
As they come to you in multi stages
Of their young lives, laughing or
    skipping rope.

There in the dark their smiles greet you
They may even be up to old antics
But all is fair
As you make it through
    another night.

© Shelly Sitzer, 2016

Mrs. John Webb, being nursed when sick in bed
Engraving by M. Burghers, ca. 1700
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Absently-mindedly Mowing My Lawn

A minor puzzle: that childhood riddle
about the brown cow who eats green grass
and gives white milk, but any farm boy knows
there’s a greater: how, in early spring, 
wild onions begin to flavor
that milk as no grass ever can.

Milk smelled only like itself
until the cows found wild onions,
and then the odor emerged from the teat,
hung heavy over the pail,
the taste sometimes so tainted 
that we fed it to the pigs.

No longer on a farm,
I buy mine from the store
and seldom think about the dairy’s pasture land.
Only rarely—like today, 
riding my mower over four acres
of spring grass with tufts of onions here and yon—
do I wonder where they grow, and why—

how it is that seasons, 
adorned with colors and sounds, 
are likewise rich in tastes and smells,
and think how this clean plastic jug 
I bring home from the store

bears nothing but milk, for which, 
coming from some distant place
and tamed though it is,
thanks must, nevertheless, be said.

            © David Black, 2016

Jersey cow in field
Photo by Jamain from Wikimedia Commons