Friday, February 15, 2013

My poems in "The Best of Clapboard House"

This year marks the first time, to my knowledge, that my work has appeared in a "best of" issue.  I always thought that online journals might have more staying power than print journals, but that hasn't been the case.  So I find myself still happy to see my words the old fashioned way, on paper.

Three of my poems were published in The Best of Clapboard House.  Two of them have already appeared on this blog:  "Progress" can be found here and "Middle Passage of Marriage" can be found here.  I really liked the way that Clapboard House presented my poem online, with a picture of a statue that pays tribute to Confederate women.  Unfortunately, that page has disappeared from the online journal.

The third poem that appears in The Best of Clapboard House has never appeared on these blog pages.  Ill be honest; I don't like it as much as I like the others.  But here it is--you be the judge.  I don't usually do much with rhyme schemes.  I like the challenge, but I rarely like the poems that result.  This one is different.

I wrote it after reading Jane Hirshfield's "The Button."  It thinks back to what the button was (a tusk) before it was a button.  I felt my brain expand after reading that poem.  I started looking at all my surroundings, thinking about them from that angle.  And thus, my rocking chair, which was once a mighty pine.  And that mention of replacement parts?  My very old rocking chair has a back that's not original to the chair, and you can see where part of the rocker has been replaced--aspects which makes it lose value as an antique.  But I love it anyway.

I've taken my students through a similar writing exercise, with some very good poems as a result. 

But back to the poem. Here it is:

Lesson of the Rocking Chair

Don't always rush forward.
Don't turn your face to the past.
Rock on your heels as you consider your options.
You can't even think for moving so fast.

Let the ones you love hold you.
Enjoy the sheen of well-loved skin.
Remember the thrill of rocking a baby.
Keep connections to your kith and kin.

Recollect your roots; the women who endured.
Celebrate your wood; I was made of pine,
a tree that some dismiss as trash.
But look around:  the countryside is mine.

I'm a collection of replacement parts.
Likewise, let go of what needs to leave.
Embrace the new, make yourself whole.
Sometimes the kindest cut is the cleave.

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