Wednesday, April 30, 2014

After Benning Road, Pt. 2

And here is the poem that I had written about the view from the bridge between Stadium/Armory and Benning Road stations on the Orange Line.

The River Always Captures Me

The Blue Line train crosses the river—
on one side the city,
the power plant, and rows
of brick houses, on the other,
the park with its paths
like veins of a broad leaf.
Below a tiny figure walks
a tinier dog.  Someone else
bikes alone.  No one rows

Soon the river will begin
to smell like spring.
More people will walk its paths.
Then it will reek like summer,
a regatta of rowers sweating,
dogs dripping,
tadpoles dying in
drying mud.
In fall, the leaves
will cover the ghosts
as the last rower skims past.

Still later the flat opaque water
will freeze in patches.
From the matching sky,
snow will fall
past the tiny figure
and the tinier dog
that trace the paths
that are like
veins of a leaf
by the river
below the Blue Line.

This poem has been published in Jellyfish Whispers and will appear in Storm Cycle 2013, Kind of a Hurricane Press' annual anthology.

Many many years ago (ok, not that many) I commuted via Metro from Silver Spring to Largo, and one of the highlights of my commute was looking up from my papers or my reading as the Blue Line train crossed the river. For me, a body of water is often a highlight of a journey.  Someday I will write about other rivers and lakes I've passed by on the way to some place else.

Another inspiration for "The River Always Captures Me" was the following film by Daryl Wallace:

I saw that film at the Environmental Film Festival.  Come to think of it, I was also inspired by this film about a man who rowed to work on the Anacostia:


p.s.  Ironically, on the day I went to the DC Poetry Project at the Benning Road Library, I did *not* catch that glimpse of the river I used to enjoy.  Metro, of course, had shut down some stations on the Blue and Orange Line, so I ended up taking a shuttle and therefore another route to the library.

Enjoy the NPS picture of the rowers below.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

After Benning Road pt. 1

I ought to be working, but after my poetry group meeting this afternoon, I am inspired to post again.  We (the DC Poetry Project) met at the Benning Road Library, a new neighborhood for me.  It was wonderful to see everyone (hi!), and we had a different format, too, to go with the new venue.  Will Dennis, a poet from San Antonio, led the event, performing his poetry and encouraging us to discuss the issues that his poems raised.  And, of course, we all read our poems...or performed our spoken word.  There were a few new poets, and Anastasia promptly collected their contact information so that they may join us at future events.

Here is the poem I read.  It is a little more emotional than my usual although it is about a fictional character.  I mention Chinese astrology in it as well.  See this link for more information about the rat and the rabbit.  

Even though this poem did not pertain to the topics we discussed, I was inspired to read it at the open mic because the poem is more intimate than most of the ones I read.  The depth of the discussion told me that I needed to go a little more deeply myself.

Thursday Night Is Date Night

On one side of a plate glass window
in Chinatown,
the tourists glance
at the chef who rolls out noodles
while upside down corpses
of ducks and rabbits watch.
Their glassy eyes see everything
and nothing.

Rats dart across the alley.
They emerge
from behind boxes and trashcans
and enter unlucky kitchens.
Their beady eyes see anything
and everything.

On the other side of a plate glass window
a waiter serves
slippery black and white noodles
to couples celebrating
Thursday night, Date night.

Alone again,
she studies the Chinese zodiac.
Her year is the Rabbit’s.
Her husband’s is the Rat’s.

To her, this explains
and nothing.

This poem originally appeared in Napalm and Novocain, one of A.J. Huffman's sites:

If you are interested in reading about the painful aftermath of love, Napalm and Novocain is a good place to go.

p.s.  Here is a link to an intriguing poem about the Celtic Zodiac:
There the signs are trees and plants, rather than animals.

BTW, I later found out that the Year of the Rabbit in Chinese astrology is sometimes referred to as the Year of the Cat.

Do you remember Al Stewart's song "The Year of the Cat"?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Start Posting....

The other day I thought that keeping a poetry blog would be a nice project.  It's a place to preserve poems that I've written and some that have been published online and elsewhere.  I may dig up some of my very old poems.  It's also a place to post poems (with permission) that inspire me...and that I admire.

Let the songs begin.....

(This blog looks very naked without images, so I am posting a few.  I just found out that Blue Ketchup is a Filipino pop group.  Also, it's the name of a club in Sydney, Australia.  Here is a link to a music video by the Filipino group:  )  Maybe I will listen to more once my husband heads off to work.  The video is adorable!!)

The Song is Blue Ketchup
On Sunday in Tompkins Square Park
only the hopelessly uncool wear all black.
A man in a purple kilt
a white Pomeranian
with matching streaks.
You sip kale juice.

The back-up singers onstage wear nuns’ habits.
They swing their oversize
Mardi Gras bead rosaries
in time to the ska beat.
Someone’s father in a fedora
dances and plays trombone.
I sip beet juice.

Children’s music plays in the distance.
The song is blue ketchup on chicken nuggets.
The song is sneaky sips of orange soda.
The song is not you.
The song is blue ketchup.

The air is heavy with warm earth and asphalt.
You sip beet juice.
A nun in navy blue polyester
opens up her matching umbrella.
I sip kale juice.
Spring rain will start up again soon.

n  Marianne Szlyk

"The Song Is Blue Ketchup" is the first poem that I read at Performetry: Old Poems, New Poems, Your Poems.  It has also been published in Aberration Labyrinth.  See the link here:
It's cool to see "The Song is Blue Ketchup" in context with other poems and the magazine's artwork.

The poem was inspired by a rainy almost-summer Sunday afternoon that my husband, a friend, and I spent in Tompkins Square Park, attending the Howl festival.  This festival included not only music but also art.  I remember artists creating their work as we walked by.  The picture below is from EV Grieve, an East Village blog.  

Below is a link to a blog by an artist who participated in the festival: