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Monday, November 11, 2019

Some recent online poems

Reliquary Bust of Saint Margaret of Antioch.
Attributed to Nicolaus Gerhaert van Leyden
(act. in Germany, 1462 - 73),
Netherlandish. 1465-70.
Walnut with traces of polychromy.
Art Institute of Chicago.
Wikipedia Commons.
These poems work pretty well as a sort of group...

A poem up today at First Things: "An Icon of St. Margaret." And it is in good company with poems by Sally Thomas (fellow Carolina poet with a book forthcoming from Able Muse), Daniel Rattelle (grad student in writing at St. Andrews), poet and scholar James Matthew Wilson, and more.

* **

"The Secret from the Ground" in North American Anglican.

* * *

"Hydrangeas" in North American Anglican.


"Both Sides of the River" in Young Ravens Literary Review: A Biannual Online Literary Journal. The centering is the 'zine's choice.


  1. I saw your poem pop up in a link within the "Prufrock" email the other day. Nicely done!

    1. Thanks, Jeff! I had a pleasant flurry of comments on twitter, so felt that the poem had readers... a thing that's not always evident when you give a poem.

  2. You're far better than me at impressionising (Is it a verb?). I tried but couldn't keep it up. Auden (mainly his tone of voice) beckoned. Nice to see a sonnet; I thought I was its only devotee these days.

    It seemed unlikely but I wondered if anything I'd written might qualify for First Things. Your icon poem suggested that an elliptical approach (admittedly towards a religious artefact) was acceptable. Here's a a couple of distant possibles.

    Two points: Is the term "monumental mason" understandable in the US? - it's the person who inscribes tombstones. And what does one do with a sonnet where the second quatrain is not only duff but uncorrectable? File it under "Tried but failed", I suppose.

    For God’s sake don’t leave it
    up to the monumental mason

    I’m apprehensive, knowing that my end,
    Will lack the clarity I would prefer.
    For that’s the way with words, they bend
    Then break; the focused phrase becomes a blur.

    My epitaph will be approximate,
    A wall of jumbled stones too rough to fit,
    I know the snags when trying to create
    A dash of truth, or digging deep for wit.

    I’ll be deceased, a flaccid word for "dead",
    Belov’d instead of criticised or snide,
    A well-worn template that my self has fled -
    I’ll pay in honesty for having died.

    Unless, of course, some calm, distrusting soul
    Strikes up a tune and brings about control.

    Sonnet – Ecstasy but not quite
    “Keep a light hopeful heart.
    But expect the worst.”

    Joyce Carol Oates

    When was the best time? I get asked,
    Assuming from my face of lumps and lines,
    That joy and confidence have long since passed
    And, like a cowpat, left dull dreck behind.

    Duff quatrain, temporarilly deleted

    Not yet, the realist says, nor is it due,
    No best, no better, only similar.
    It’s where you’re standing in the righteous queue,
    Prate prophets reading from apocrypha.

    For me it comes and goes as clarity
    When something newish fits exquisitely.

  3. Must dash and also have a child home but will write more later... In the meantime, I'm wondering about your question... Monumental mason sounds like a giant mason to my ear! I think we might more likely say either "stone carver" or simply "mason" over here...

    And why not send? The new poetry editor is Michael Juster (A. M. Juster.) You can find some of his poems online.

  4. Nah. Before anything else I'd need some tiny reassurance I wasn't making a fool of myself.

    1. I'll be back after the departure of progeny!

    2. More company arrived! Progeny departed! But here I am.

      I'm trying to think of the British pronunciation of "approximate." Is -mate and -ate a true rhyme for you? Love these variations... "Prefer" and "blur" is an interesting rhyme: shades of Bartleby! It's clever--send it, yes.

      The second one has that outrageous lumpy cowpattish business--worth the price of admission, I'd say. Again thinking of British pronunciation with similar/apocrypha... The prating bugs me--maybe too usual in that context? Something. Hard to tell if the closure works without that quatrain. But I'd fiddle with it--gotta keep that opener.

    3. It's one of those cheat rhymes which takes advantage of what is seen rather than what is sounded. In fact the terminal vowels are way apart: "uh" vs. long a. My great friend, now dead, who encouraged me to write verse and then became frustrated by my unwillingness to doff the straitjacket of the sonnet form, gave me licence - an act of desperation on his part - to flirt with cheat rhymes.

      But thanks for trying. Much appreciated. Asking was a bit of cheek on my part. I was right in saying the second quatrain was uncorrectable; but that was not the final judgment. It could be rewritten, always acknowledging the potential domino effect: re-writing the third bit, then the first, then re-writing the whole shoot. The spillikin game, in fact.

    4. Bring it back when you do that! Of course, you might manage a truncated sonnet...two quatrains and a couplet. That's a tight squeeze, comparatively, but doable sometimes.

      Eye rhyme... Was not sure, thought it might even be a rhyme in British English. Couldn't conjure that pronunciation in my head!

  5. The dubious rhymes (lines/behind, similar/apocrypha) remain. The cynicism content has increased. The second quatrain is reconstructed. Various existing lines have been tweaked. I wouldn't have the gall to submit it to First Thoughts given the final line of the third quatrain, even if it wasn't intended as a subversive assault on Christianity, hence the lower-case a for apocrypha.

    Thanks for taking time off from what sounds like an impossibly busy life. I won't do this again. 'Twas indeed a bow at venture. And much appreciated.

    Sonnet – Ecstasy but not quite

    “Keep a light hopeful heart.
    But expect the worst.”

    Joyce Carol Oates

    When was the best time? I am asked,
    Given my face's arid lumps and lines
    Suggest that confidence has long since past,
    And dropped this cowpat - dry dull dreck - behind.

    What can I say? My best is yet to come?
    The sentiment of any greeting card.
    A child? That so-called ripe and blessed plum
    The middle-classes hold in high regard.

    Not yet, the realist says, nor is it due,
    There is no best,there's only similar.
    It’s where you’re standing in the righteous queue,
    Prate prophets reading from apocrypha.

    For me it comes and goes as clarity,
    A newish line that fits exquisitely.

  6. Having a bit of trouble with "ripe," even with "so-called" before it, as referring to child/childhood. (And yes, "similar" and "apocrypha" are outrageous as rhyme! Hahaha! But not shocking in a poem that fools with rhyme so much. Your two pairs of full rhyme are still a bit sneaky... a two-syllable and one-syllable and due/queue, which certainly looks like a variant even though it is not. And perhaps it's the tidiest rhyme because it's the place in the poem that introduces the similar and the proper.

    No, do it any time! I enjoy seeing what you're up to...


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.