April 22, 2014

Two Poems by Taylor Graham

Casting Shadows
            High school girl missing….
Not far from town, that peaceful forest road
edged by black oak, pine, and cedar;
my dogs casting for scents on a fresh breeze;
scanning deer-prints in the dust of early June;
as if there were no other characters
in the cast of that quiet scene, mountains
mined long ago for their gold; left to heal
themselves. And yet, unease
            as if I sensed, on the ridge above,
her shadow behind a log, bones
not yet covered with leaf- and needle-fall.
Earthworms leaving castings in soil.
The spell that ghosts cast.

On everyday mornings, marvels. Magic,
to survive the so-close crash at our very gate –
no one we knew, but still we keep a photo
of the wreck. Each witness carries a long wake
as the jaws of life shear away everything
we counted on. Security of a steel box, safe cage
of ribs to hold heart and breath. Gems
of windshield glass on the shoulder, shaken
like salt into the raw of dreams. Years after
disaster, people still dress for work, and pray
for peace, another day. And mourning doves rise

from the witness field. This magic, to be alive.

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in El Dorado County. Her poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry International, and Southern Humanities Review. Her latest book is What the Wind Says (Lummox Press, 2013), about living, training and searching with her canine partners.

April 19, 2014

Two Poems by Michael Lee Johnson

Missing of the Birds 

Keep my journal short.
Just review January through March.
Life is a dig deep snow on my sorrow.
Bare bones of naked sparrows,
beneath my balcony, lie lifeless.
The few survivors huddle in bushes.
Gone, gone is kitchen bowl that holds the seeds.
Sparrows cannot get inside my refrigerator door
nor shop late at Wal-Mart during winter hours−
get away with it.
I drink dated milk.  I host rehearsals of childhood.
Sip Mogen David Concord Wine with Diet 7Up.
Down sweet molasses and pancake butter.
I give in to condominium Polish demands.
My neighbor's parties, loud blast language.
I am weak in the Jesus feeding of the poor.
I now merge day with night and sleep
avoid my shame and guilt.
I try clean, my thoughts of shell spotted snow.
I see fragments, no more feeding of the birds.

Heaven is My Horse Fly

A common horse fly
travels in my world,
in my bathroom,
it is summer time
lands on my toilet seat
dines at Nikki's
kitty litter box refuels.
Twenty three times
round trip
buzzes my skull skin my head
he calls them short runs.
Steady pilot, good mileage,
frequent flier credits.
I swat his war journey,
splat, downed, then an abrupt end.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era:  now known as the Illinois poet, from Itasca, IL.  Today he is a poet, freelance writer, photographer who experiments with poetography (blending poetry with photography), and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 750 small press magazines in 26 countries, he edits 7 poetry sites.  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  From Exile to Freedom (136 pages book), several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems.  He also has over 69 poetry videos on YouTube.

April 17, 2014

The Lacemaker by Byron Beynon

The Lacemaker
after the painting by Jan Vermeer (1632-1675)

You sense his eyes
scrutinizing her as she works
in a busy space of her own.
The fingers and eyes
are a team,
edges of colours
about to be transformed.
Her presiding head
tilted over
threads and needles
like a praying-mantis.
The skill of creation,
hushed in time,
waiting for
the birth of patience
that will arrive
into a transfixed world.

Byron Beynon lives in Wales. His work has appeared in several publications including The Warwick Review, London Magazine, Poetry Wales and Cyphers. Recent collections include The Sundial (Flutter Press) and The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions).

April 14, 2014

Annual Print Edition, 2013

Poppy Road Review's Annual Print Edition, 2013, is now available on Amazon and Createspace.  This beautiful 116-page book features all poets published in 2013, to include Mary Jo Balistreri, Byron Beynon, Joan L. Cannon, Sara Biggs Chaney, Kyle Hemmings, M.J. Iuppa, Michael Keshigian, Steve Klepetar, Donal Mahoney, Arlene L. Mandell, Joan McNerney, Al Ortolani, James Owens, Scott Owens, L.C. Ricardo, Richard Schnap, Samantha Seto, Jeanine Stevens, John Swain, Martin Willitts Jr., and many others. 

The poppy cover photo was generously provided by James Owens and his poppy images may be located in the "Art" link at the bottom of the page.

I'm working on the 2011 and 2012 print editions but it is a very slow process, so stay tuned for the release of those books in the future.  I hope that you'll consider acquiring a copy or two for your personal collection; it would also make a thoughtful gift to give a friend or family member who enjoys poetry.  I absolutely cherish my copy.

April 12, 2014

Two Poems by Rose Mary Boehm

I once had a garden

Spring the blues,
burst from black, hard and white
push open the crust.
Ice is bigger than water.
That is the kind of enchantment
which comes with March.

Snowdrops cut through remaining crystal blankets,
bamboo shoots push through grey flesh,
man’s impatience will force paperwhite.
While the earth is still drowsy, chattering daffodils
annoy the pious iris reticulate;
forscythia and scilla bloom
beneath the soft branches of pussy willow.

Break open the word.
Tulips stand to attention before
they give in to gravity and bend their
heavy heads in acquiescence.
Rhododendron show off in red and white,
pink azaleas look down, abashed.
For more see muscari, redbud, dogwood,
magnolia, trillium, and primrose.

Witch hazel flies by moonlit night,
croci knit multicoloured dream coats
while helleboreae modestly wait
for the upbeat. Camelia plays
hard to get but offers itself
as boutonnière; and I get drunk
on lilly of the valley and peonies
under the nearby lilac tree.
A remembered Spring is boundless.

Never more than now

I read a poem about silent growing. Not like the grass
making a racket or the holly scratching and whispering
behind thick roots about magic as though memory makes up
for loss. It walked through me then and left behind stillness
and wonder, grassland and willow, soft brown muzzles and ruminations,
the chatterings of droplets on moss, the rustling water rat
and coolness. Coolness. Then the cloud rolled in from the sea
and broke over the mountain.

German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and a poetry collection (TANGENTS), her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many major poetry reviews. 

April 10, 2014

Interview w/ Poet Michael Keshigian

1.  When did you start writing poetry and why?
You could say that I transitioned into poetry from music.  I've been a performing musician and educator for most of my life with undergraduate and post graduate degrees in performance and musicology.  The close relationship of both disciplines attracted my  attention to the written word, especially poetry, where musical characteristics are most prevalent.  It seemed natural therefore, to utilize rhythmic and melodic concepts within the concise and articulate format of poetry. That's been going on now for about 20 years, providing another gratifying creative outlet.

2.  What is your writing process?
The writing process begins with an appreciation for those poets and writers who have contributed to the growth of the genre.  I tend to do much reading, which I believe fosters a solid foundation for the creative process.  Beyond that, I tend to write about events with which I am familiar, personal experiences and interactions with interesting people.  That being said, I rarely carry a full blown idea with me to the keyboard, but rather plant a seed on the screen and work on it until it blossoms into something that is satisfying.  Although it is cliche, the words seemingly have a tendency to write themselves.

3.  Which poets throughout time have influenced your writing?
It is difficult to name one or two poets as leading influences.  Usually I move from one poet to another and discover that poet's idiosyncrasy and the uniqueness he/she brings to the discipline.  With that appreciation come a synthesis of styles and influences that allows me to trickle out my own expression.

4.  What do you consider your poetic style to be?  Most of my writing is free verse though my earliest attempts were in more traditional forms.  I've also dabbled with haiku and other fixed line forms.

5.  What topics do you tend to write about?Almost anything can trigger an internal urge to write a poem, any single, momentary experience to a monumental event that has touched the lives of many.

6.  What advice would you give to a novice poet?
The process begins with becoming aware of oneself; tendencies, idiosyncrasies that are salient characteristics that offer you your perspective of life and the world.  Take that perspective and foster its growth on the written page.  But it is not all about inspiration.  Read and learn from those who have developed the technique to become successful.  Synthesize your imagination with familiarity and the technical ability to deliver your message.

7.  What advice would you offer to someone who is frustrated because his/her work is constantly being rejected by journals he/she submits to?
Identify the problem.  It might be as simple as finding the proper venue for your efforts.  If constructive criticism is offered, re-evaluate your delivery without sacrificing your intent.  There is an editor out there who will like your subject matter if you know of what you write and your technique sells the product.  Above all, be persistent.  Most times, it really does boil down to a matter of taste.

8.  What is your ultimate goal as a poet?  Are there any specific awards or prizes you strive for?
Just to keep on writing with the hope that those who read my efforts take a piece of my insight with them. An ah ha moment, if you will.  Awards and prizes can be satisfying by-products, but the ultimate goal is to get your message out and your perspective acknowledged, which essentially translates into continued publication.