Thursday, February 20, 2020

Unexpected Letter, a poem by Laurel Smith

Unexpected Letter                                                                   
           by Laurel Smith

In a dream you swear you
never dreamed, your mother
is writing a letter left-handed
on plain paper in a cursive you
must work to decipher—so unlike
the perfect hand in the letters
she wrote you. Now an urgent

message has shaken her ability
to hold a pen, or she has suffered
a stroke and expects you to see 
the chaos, to translate her pain, or
you missed the point of every letter
she sent: her calm, cheerful text
punctuating the years while

this letter is the one
she intended all the time. 
So you focus on each loop that
tries to be a vowel, each chunk
of ink that wants to be a word
since she will not speak again
and this broken verse is for you.

Laurel Smith lives in Vincennes, Indiana, and happily participates in projects to promote literacy and the arts. Her poems have appeared in Natural Bridge, New Millennium Writings, Tipton Poetry Journal, Flying Island, English Journal, JAMA: Journal of the AMA; also in the following anthologies: Mapping the Muse, And Know This Place, Visiting Frost.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Rain, a poem by Jared Carter

   by Jared Carter

The tractor-trailer’s eighteenth wheel,
          in cornering
The broken exit curb, congeals
          and makes a thing

Of mud out of the brindled cur
          that stood beside
Him all this time. The moment blurs.
          He throws the sign--

Will Work for Food--into the ditch
          that runs nearby,
And reaches through the rain to bitch
          against the sky.

Jared Carter's most recent book of poems, The Land Itself, is from Monongahela Books in West Virginia.  He lives in Indiana.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

On Learning in New Mexico that Seamus Heaney Died, a poem by Norbert Krapf

On Learning in New Mexico that Seamus Heaney Died
             by Norbert Krapf

A poet who dug in the earth
with his father to plant potatoes
and bring them later to light

has died. His poems too dig down
into bog and peat and past and present
and bring up the smell of many layers

of lives lived in a place and a language
that rose up in him and always stayed
connected to his native place. His words

live on like roots of history going down
and coming back up conducting
the water pooled below the surface

he walked in a steady rhythm like
a creature whose legs and lungs
are strong from having worked

and written what he discovered
he knew because the pen in his
hand never stopped digging.

This son could handle a pen
the way his father did a spade,
with an elemental art that revealed

its quality by how deep he dug
in ways that never stopped being
new no matter how old they were

Norbert Krapf, a former Indiana Poet Laureate, has published thirteen collections, the latest of which are The Return of Sunshine, about his Columbian-German-American grandson, five, and Indiana Hill Country Poems. In 2021 his prose book, Homecomings: A Writer's Memoir, will be published.