poetry feature: Laura M Kaminski

This week’s poem is drawn from the poetry feature submissions! For guidelines on how to submit work, see the “submissions” tab above.

*

One thing I admire about poetry is the space it creates where meditation can balance into consideration and reckoning. This week’s poem, “Bonding” by Laura M Kaminski, is a good example of what I mean.

The first stanza not only sets the scene, but also presents the range of meditation. The act of walking a new dog is meditated upon via the consideration of particulars. From the moment the speaker picks up the leash, she feels fear as “a grasshopper leaping / eating everything i’ve planted.” Making a grasshopper stand as a metaphor for fear in this direct manner allows for a surrealistic immediacy; the juxtaposition is “leaped” into suddenly, which evokes not only the image but the sensation of both image and concept.

The poem continues to create tension through taut, clipped lines. Through its narrative turns, this meditation on fear reckons with the possible risks involved in walking a dog for the speaker’s physical well-being. As the poem develops, its engagement with the epigraph becomes apparent. By the quote’s logic, in order “to understand” and “to experience” love and friendship, one must be active. Every move of consideration and reckoning in the poem is an active one. Each stanza that unfolds, then, stands as another refusal of “allowing the heart to shrink.”

Bonding – Laura M Kaminski

The only way to understand love is to love. The only way
to experience friendship is to be a friend. If this creates pain,
that’s better than allowing the heart to shrink.
            – Neil Douglas-Klotz, THE SUFI BOOK OF LIFE

i pick up the leash
fear is a grasshopper leaping
eating everything i’ve planted
the new dog is large
but only seven months old

i ask him to sit
my fear of fear is a locust
larger than my first fear
and voracious
i take the risk

i snap the leash onto his
collar and reach for the door
i am determined to find
a way to stay on my feet
even if he pulls or lunges

without blaming him if we
have an accident and without
self-recrimination or second-
guessing if i fall
and twist my spine

fear: a fall could paralyze
locust: not taking that chance
is another form of paralysis
i have nothing to bring
to this but poetry

fear: no one will understand
these words i’ve put to paper
the thought is only seven
minutes old and still unruly
i take the risk

to fail would leave me
trapped inside my body
unable to communicate
get out of myself in any way
locust: open the door

*

lmk-bw*
*
*
*
Laura M Kaminski grew up in Nigeria, went to school in New Orleans, and currently lives in rural Missouri. Her most recent collection, The Heretic’s Hymnal: 99 New and Selected Poems, is forthcoming from Babylon Books / Balkan Press in 2018. More about her poetry is available at http://arkofidentity.wordpress.com/

* digital chapbook released!

I am happy to announce that my digital chapbook “Naos: an introduction” is officially out on the Right Hand Pointing site!

Here’s the “Introduction to an Introduction”:

Once again, Anne Rice is at fault. The VHS copy I had of Interview with the Vampire came with an introduction by the author in which she spoke of the character Lestat in terms of persona: how he was her devil, her dark lover, her alter ego, and possibly her conscience. The character Naos is none of these things for me. But I have gone back to the memory often over the years, and thought of Anne breaking down a persona as a fulcrum to get at other facets of self. The word naos comes from the Greek, and means sanctuary, the innermost chamber of a temple. I came across the word in a dictionary of forgotten words, read it, put it in my pocket. I reached for this word when I found myself working on poems I wasn’t sure were mine, poems that made me feel as though I had stumbled upon an innermost chamber of a thought. Which is where Naos lives. Not the brain, more like the mind, or a poem. Things that hold, only as long as we do.

Read the rest of the chapbook here.

I’m so excited, I’ve gone transparent!

* it's transparently so *
* it’s transparently so *

Special thanks to Dale Wisely for giving me this opportunity & to Laura Kaminski for editorial feedback!

Part of the fun of the project beyond persona-ing was working out some formal games. Each poem follows a pattern of 5 in one way or another: either in the poem being five lines or being in five couplets (and sometimes a combination of the two). I also noodled around a bit with syllabics, each lyric having its own measure.

*

One more update: I’ve recently revamped the Poems tab and included some more recent publications including flash fiction and book reviews as well as recent publications in Pretty Owl Poetry, Short, Fast, and Deadly and Prick of the Spindle – the latter of which includes 3 more poems in the Naos series.

*

I believe this is now officially longer than most of my regular Friday posts. Excitement = loquaciousness!

See you Friday!

Jose

* Ink brush drawing by Ani!

* hare-brained with yeats

Memory – W. B. Yeats

One had a lovely face,
And two or three had charm,
But charm and face were in vain
Because the mountain grass
Cannot but keep the form
Where the mountain hare has lain.

***

I’ve spent the past week reading through the Collected Poems of Yeats. He’s been a go-to guy since high school; each reading reveals him to be a darker writer than his more famous poems allow.

In the above, not one but three of the women of his life are summed up in a six line poem. And not even summed up, but rather quickly evoked, and just as quickly dissolved into an image. The reader is left looking at an impression of life, which is what the speaker is left with as well.

Without going into the details, I’ll say Yeats was a lonely boy, wronged and wronging in love in his respective way. Being sensitive and bookish has its consequences, good and bad.

On the one hand, Yeats is a technical master. But then there’s the hares, who, in truth, merit the greatest sympathy.

In the poem below, Yeats presents a speaker who would learn to change loves “while dancing,” but finds he can only imagine what that might be like. That it can only happen, even hypothetically, in a mythological realm is the first clue to Yeats’ bluff: for all the dancing and laughing, the speaker remains rather pathetic – both in terms of pathos and general sadness, and pathetic like the kid standing against the wall during a dance.

That the means through which the speaker spies this other realm is the bone of a hare – a collar-bone no less, the bone between the throat (where, in us, the voice lives) and the heart – the bone of a simple if fretful creature, means that something simple in him has died as well.

* say what now? *
* say what now? *

The Collar-Bone of a Hare – W. B. Yeats

Would I could cast a sail on the water
Where many a king has gone
And many a king’s daughter,
And alight at the comely trees and the lawn,
The playing upon pipes and the dancing,
And learn that the best thing is
To change my loves while dancing
And pay but a kiss for a kiss.

I would find by the edge of that water
The collar-bone of a hare
Worn thin by the lapping of water,
And pierce it through with a gimlet, and stare
At the old bitter world where they marry in churches,
And laugh over the untroubled water
At all who marry in churches,
Through the thin white bone of a hare.

***

Happy haring!

Jose

p.s. Please check out the latest issue of Right Hand Pointing – a celebration of 10 years of bringing (Right)eous poetry to the people, starring such riff raff as fellow poets Laura M. Kaminski and Marc Vincenz (and yours truly) – here.

Special thanks to editor & fine poet Dale Wisely!