Friday, August 3, 2018

We welcome Vicky Schwab!

Vicky Schwab has moved to Newport from Ohio.  We're so glad she found us.  Here's the poem she read, with a fine steady pace that kept it rolling:

Blaming Ohio                                              
Vicky Schwab, center

    Disease is not of the body, but of the place. -- Seneca

The money's gone, the mills are all shut down,
a town of
ghosts and gutted shops.   Main Street's 
lined with taverns sprouting from the mold of

buildings gone to rot; the opera house,
her fancy grillwork ruined, a flophouse
for winos, gypsies, convicts on the run.

Saturdays, for fifty cents we'd have our
fortunes told and after, to Coney Island
last nickels spent on hot dogs heaped with sauce.

Had our father founds out, they'd have skinned us
alive.  The day the King of the Gypsies
died, we watched the shiny black hearses crawl

like beetles past our house.  That summer
we played along the creek bed, near the tracks
where my father hitched trains as a young man

dreaming past Westinghouse, Ohio Brass,
Mansfield Tire, Cyclops Steel, giant
foundries lit against the night, silent now

and still.  I lay between freshly laundered
sheets, mindful of the train's low wail, a
promise of worlds beyond my narrow berth

of silos and cornfields hushed at dusk, the
whisper of hatted ladies in church, the hush
of scandal over pearl-handled knives, best

china for the guests, vowing to escape
this white-domed sky, like a teacup over-
turned and me beneath, struggling for air.


Jed Feffer returns this summer.

Jed Feffer
 It's All Good, Father

The irritant is your absence,
but your ashes feed this white birch,
and the ground,
where an ant drags a moth over twigs.
You are gone,
but here are tall lilies,
Autumn Joy,
bee balm,
bright phlox,
and a glass petaled
blue ornamental flower,
that when tapped
with a pen
produces an icy tone
like clear steel drums.

You and mom packed up
most summers
to drive
to this Vermont farmhouse

where you continued                                               
your quest
for the perfect book.                                         
How odd now
to be ash;
your glasses ash,
your legs ash,
your heart ash,
your hands ash
your brain ash,
your tongue ash.

good soil food;
something you'd appreciate;
ground up for flowers.
This bench a place
to recollect you
and talk to you.

But memory is no substitute
for substance;
your voice;
your body
dressed in old jeans
and a flannel shirt,
sitting at the breakfast table
leaning over coffee.

You picking blueberries
in a too small beach hat;
plastic bucket strapped
to your belt buckle
slowly plucking berries.

Joanne Giannino sent us away, Wednesday before last, with the following prompt:

Name That Poem
Poetry Prompt from Poets&Writers Magazine 3.20.18
In a 2013 interview for the National Book Foundation, poet Lucie Brock-Broido, who passed away earlier this month, spoke of a leather-bound journal she kept with lists of names and titles. “Sometimes, I just place a title at the top of the undisturbed, blank page and that name becomes something like a piece of sand that happened into the delicate flesh of an oyster, blank itself and closed off from the world…. The result, eventually, is a pearl.” Spend several days jotting down phrases and combinations of words you come across, either out in the world or from your imagination, that seem particularly imagistic, evocative, or disquieting. Select one to use as a poem title, and then let a poem build intuitively, layer by layer, around the “disturbance.”

For Jed, the phrase was "It's all good."  Some of us have never liked that expression, but we very much like what Jed did with it.  A pearl.