Welcome back! The spring issue of fws is an experiment in “evolutionary-lit,” a term I have just coined. It’ll be like a Renga, with poets collaborating, in a sense, as
each poet writes a new [poem] that leaps from the [poem or] stanza preceding it. This leap advances both the thematic movement as well as maintaining the linking component.poets.org
For this issue, the theme is “tenderness/loving/care/& hope.”
Unlike a formal Renga, however, in which poets write only a few lines to add to previous lines/stanzas, which then, all together, become the whole poem, we will be writing an entire issue of whole poems together, so it is an improvisational collection becoming!
Submitting poets, then, must have read and be responsive to the evolving work. In other words, something you have already written, may well fit, but more likely, you will want to write something new that blends perfectly within the evolution!
For our part, we will be posting/updating the work daily or each time a new work is selected for the collection.
Following are two seed poems by Corey Ruzicano. Read. Appreciate. Write. Submit. Read again. This will be fun!
Let’s make something beautiful together!
~frame after frame~
what words there weren’t 1. a buzzing every word every whisper a world i had not chosen a life gone by and it frightened me it heavied me like lead 2. the spinning spokes of a beached bicycle a whirring reminder of how soon things are lost this is what i have of yours of you everything i can remember it’s funny what it adds up to the paper doll you instead of the you that breathes and laughs and grinds your teeth while you sleep what i do and do not know this is what i have left 3. warm wood underfoot an old sad song roofs and rain falling on them lightning bugs the smell of the air in your home town magic pieces of the world that no matter how many times they’re named can never need never fully be explained i realize as i try to describe my mother that i would never have enough words for it that every writer since the first had been trying to put into something that would stand how it feels to love someone so much there will never be enough words for it that this life so infinitely filled with two sided coins would never have enough stories or pictures or music enough to make someone understand how terribly, how entirely, how much bigger and truer and more real than any binding law or physical compound, i loved my mother. and the tears of that love, the salt of all of it would dry unseen on this paper and the only sliver of silver in all this is the thought that someday someone might read this and know that they too love their mother in some implacable way different and the same no more or less true than the way i love mine.
south orange to penn station the sky burning persimmon over a grey jersey goodbye flying kites against the world turning faster than we could see it i had made myself a liar again and try to catch The Truth in my shaking hands never able to hold the solid stone i imagine it to be you cannot convince someone to love you i trace the letters over my palm again again i know it have known it and somehow still need the reminding i have only ever wanted to, once before have only ever ached like this once but it lasted eleven years so you do the math and here i was lying again all this just once in my life nonsense i had never wanted anything ever just once in my life i had wanted over and over overlapping wanting and wanting and recoiling and wanting more and again and anyway so long as i didn’t have to admit it you cannot fix anything for anyone but how could that be when it was all i’d ever done aside from the wanting and was that what my love meant when i tried it on as a verb he was a hurt i still couldn’t solve a puzzle still jagged and scattered over the table splintered across the floor in the shards of light that shuddered through the bare branches above he was everywhere the space around everything but he himself nothing never there it’s too late for that he says because why i fall open laughing that sort of safe mocking masquerade laughter we’d gone pro at because you already hate me? giggling against that grey december and all my choking fear because i could never hate you, now the first decade of the new millennia is closing and i am up with the ghosts in the hours that are theirs my head in my grandfather’s hands holding them frame after frame as he sleeps into nothing slipping quietly from life into death holding the hand i know well now the hand whose severed fingers i have twice picked from the sawdust of our garage and watched the doctor sew back on the hand with a split down one thumb from that same saw the same sew the same seam the same hand with a workman’s grasp caked in every crease worn down every scar finally soft at the end i was surprised to find his hands still holding onto mine or rather holding still onto mine mine which were for once steady quiet seam to seam in the eye of the storm at ease in the heart of chaos he was not a man i had spent much of this life loving quiet and distant but even now i can’t help but feel that his life however small and creased and not known deserved some redemption or perhaps just hope in vain that all lives do i watch the boys around me trying on every day what it is to be a man trying to be both Good and Man at once trying to become which so often felt punctuated and propelled by the legacy of leaving wondering when any of us will understand what strong really is or rather what really is strong what the measure of metal is what metal miracles take [all] i[’ve ever] want[ed was] to close the wound my arms are open but that means they are also empty and so i am taking up with ghosts and liars again this great grief the one we all had just from living that felt so personal and specific and awake and was in fact the most universal and mundane, the most every day we were all all bad and all all good and all all innocent of what was to come we were all still packing our backpacks and running away from home we were all afraid of who we really were we were all staring at the sun blinding ourselves over and over just to survive just to keep beginning in this world of endings we were all peaches all dying as we ripened we were all we were all and there was nothing for it. just the hands split and creased and empty and open and there. ~
Donna Faulkner nee Miller
And in his final moments He drifts back to happier days of summers past . Of sandcastles and top heavy ice creams dripping with melting momentum and undies itchy with hitchhiking sand . The laughter and squeals Of us all frolicking and splashing one another in the shallows and jumping rolling waves together . Those same old hands hardened from Grafting And crafting away a lifetime . Sculpting himself into the image of the man expected. Those hands holding onto his little kin today instead . Gifted the briefest respite by a breeze heavy with the promise of vinegar and chips teasing our appetites. A liberating summer's breeze stealing away the weight of his worries. . ( those unspoken burdens that strangle a man's spirit and bend his back crooked by the time of old age ) He forgets himself and the relentless roles he plays And his deep frown lifts making space for a rare and toothy smile . And we saw him - Really saw him . For the very first time . He shone brightly with us that day. His hands work rough were used instead for swinging squealing children Jumping waves . Holding dripping ice cream with sticky fingers he licked clean - and laughed . He knew on that brief summers day buried deep within his memories The joy of being a human -unencumbered . It’s recollection Encouraging his transition. Contented . He slipped away . leaving his weathered body His smile sealed upon his face Kissed by the timely departure of his final breath. ~
d. ellis phelps
& she made space unencumbered by recollection what once was sticky licked clean-- life-giving tongue ~ she was open there nothing small nothing distant but close close as breathing ~ how long she hovered at this opening how many times she turned back but now her lungs filled her body overflowed & she knew this is how the tracks are laid: unbending will & wanting ~
[blood of her blood] & she knew when she went into the heart of chaos This is how the tracks are laid blood of her blood a buzzing spinning how it feels to love him so much his laughter a knock-knock world of words there are never enough when love is a verb he wrote a poem in her tracks multiple phrases yes, but… yes, but… innocently caught in Decartes’s universe he thinks therefore he is he is her giggling peach at seven loving life’s absurdities she planting memories to blossom some future day ~
Shrouded in Mist the father tall & tan in drawstring trunks watches her rise from the waves two pieces of blue cinched waist span of his hands the daughter hair furiously free looks to see if he sees her striding toward him footprints washing away ~
m. f. nagel
In the morning When the stars gather to sing Look to the sky And see A chariot winged A chariot winged Soaring Soaring star walkers Star walkers Fire spitting 3. 2. 1. Fire Beyond the edge of dreams Dreams The edge of dreams Where we have lived Lived So long So long Asleep In the morning when the stars Gather to sing Look to the sky and see See Our place Our place In new worlds Worlds And new eternities ~
I look to the sky See the thumbnail ghost Of a day moon cushioned in azure A tiny thing cradled in the expanse Of the sky, the way I imagine you Cradled me, although I don’t remember, For all the years we were separated There was still a pull, as the moon Pulls the tides, the unbreakable bond ~
New eternities-- the stars sing, folding harmonies into folded worlds, and we slip into the creases, in the in-between where dreams of what was of what might be merge. And from there, your ghost voice calls— an anchor or a balloon? The moon hums in the night, warning of perils, soothing with hope. Our souls join-- daughter becomes mother becomes daughter, reborn with the sun. ~