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Don’t Just Sit There A Journal of Poetry

Volume 2, No. 1 April 2012 Special Feature: “Six Poets Short of a Sonnet”


Contents Introduction / David J. Rothman........................................................... 1 Andrea W. Doray A Move to the Country ............................................................... 3 Apology to a Widow ................................................................... 4 Joslyn Green Afloat........................................................................................... 5 Down Here ................................................................................. 6 Martha Kalin Beach Walk ................................................................................ 7 To Live Beyond Measure ........................................................... 8 Malinda Miller One Mile Off Highway 50 .......................................................... 9 Call of the Desert ...................................................................... 10 Jere Paulmeno For the Disappeared ................................................................. 11 The Trail into Clouds ............................................................... 13 Dale Schellenger Riddled...................................................................................... 14 Scylla and Charybdis ................................................................. 15 Jody Sorenson The Middle Part........................................................................ 16 Time Piece ................................................................................ 17 Susan Delaney Spear Faces of the Enemy ................................................................... 18 Twilight ..................................................................................... 19 Richard Uhrlaub Your Silence .............................................................................. 20 Raw Tomato Love..................................................................... 21

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Introduction: The Simmering Poets This issue features work by a group that calls itself “Six Poets Short of a Sonnet.” Of course, there are nine of them, but they’re literary types and that’s what happens. If I remember correctly, the group’s name grew out of a hilarious evening or two of trying to select a name for a collective reading they gave together a year or two ago. My recommendation was “Sue Denim and the Formicators,” but that went down in flames, which means it’s now yours for a song. The group started meeting several years ago as an outgrowth of classes I teach on metrics, stanza forms and fixed lyrical forms at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. These poets, who come from all over the Denver and Boulder metropolitan area, entered strong and have shown an extraordinary commitment to learning their craft, as you will see from the pages that follow, which are filled with triolets, villanelles, Venus and Adonis Stanzas, ballades, heroic couplets, carefully ghosted free verse and much more. They joined Lighthouse at different times, but I feel tremendously fortunate that they all eventually found each other and started this group, as they are now doing what creates every meaningful moment in cultural life: having conversations that go far beyond any classroom, conversations that have become their own culture, to which you are now invited. Writers may need solitude to get the work done, and everyone needs a curriculum to get started and to progress, but at a certain point the most important thing is to discover a self-sustaining society in which many can flourish. To observe, from a respectful distance, the ways in which the members of SPSS rely on each other, inspire each other, vigorously critique each other (although Dale and Joslyn are no longer allowed to bring weapons…) and, above all, keep writing, reminds me of watching a simmering pot. Perhaps a gumbo. A spicy one. They meet regularly; several teach for a living or are otherwise involved in education; some judge poetry contests; they all read their work in public; and a number of them are beginning to publish widely, with more to follow I’m sure. Time passes. The material flies back and forth across coffee shop tables, bookstore readings, living room salons, the pixeled frequencies…and the group slowly grows. Someday I hope it will be renamed “43 Poets Stuffed into a Sonnet like Frat Boys in a Volkswagen.” But these are serious writers (some so serious they even aspire to write light verse). Susan Spear and Malinda Miller are so involved that they are now students in the MFA in Poetry with an Emphasis on Versecraft that I direct at Western State College of Colorado. And the group as a whole may not realize this, but in the end the honor is mine to have connected with such a gifted and committed group of

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people who have chosen to spend so much of their lives pursuing the art, in search of it. Working with them and watching their development has been one of the most fulfilling teaching gigs of my life. Colorado is simmering with the cultural energy exemplified by SPSS these days. Poetry is an important part of the recipe and Lighthouse has been crucial in helping that to happen by pre-heating the oven. At a time when so much American poetry is fulfilling its tenure-bid driven destiny of becoming as cortex-bound as possible – as if poetry’s primary function were to advance knowledge, an absurd and decadent theory – Colorado, where there are still new stories to be told, still new things to describe, still new feelings to be sounded, still new relations to describe, is one of the places where the verbs are. These poets characterize themselves as searchers. That is as it should be. But I have a sense that the muse, exasperated by her recent attendance at so many academic conferences, has also been searching for them, has begun spending time here, and is finding it more and more delightful to visit. *** A word of thanks: this issue would have been impossible without the hard work of the Associate Editor, the tremendously patient and competent Martha Kalin, who assembled the initial manuscript and did most of the catherding. David J. Rothman Boulder / April 2012

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Andrea W. Doray A Move to the Country Sleekly out of reach somehow— These comfort creatures I adore— They are like tigers now. Finer-tuned, they know just how To steal to field from open door, While sleekly out of reach somehow. Crouching under bush and bough, Flattening, circling, silent roar… They are like tigers now. Only night pursuits allow The cravings of a carnivore, Still sleekly out of reach somehow. Never owned them, I avow, Though once they lazed on sunglazed floor; They are like tigers now. A hunter’s feast on me endow At porch or step or screened backdoor, And sleekly out of reach somehow— They are like tigers now.

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Apology to a Widow Your horse, Sophia, free and loose unridden: I pass him fat in pasture by your road. Your thoughts, do they close in as love unbidden, In evening when the pulse of day has slowed? No longer wife, unbridled life so brief— Sophia, do you creep in fields of grief? Your path, Sophia, deep and overgrown: I see your footsteps filled with grass and clay. Your dreams, do they become what’s now unknown, When dusk is settling down on top of day? A second wife, uprooted life too brief— Sophia, do you weep in fields of grief? Your gate, Sophia, hinged and tightly closed: I watch your hay in acres mown and sold. Your memories, do they come to you exposed When night entire grips you in its hold? Abandoned wife, your reed of life was brief— Sophia, do you sleep in fields of grief…

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning poet, a peacenik, a communication copywriter, trainer, and a former “Cook of the Week.” She has published her shorts (fiction, that is), as well as her poetry, feature articles, and stories for children. Her opinion column, Alchemy, appears in the Arvada Press and affiliated newspapers. Doray champions literacy, free speech, and funny stories, and she blogs, tweets, and talks in her sleep about all of the above.

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Joslyn Green Afloat I float in light this afternoon As if it were that earliest ocean And I were forming still, Growing into myself Protected, fed, attached, and free To somersault or simply be. How different the scene seen through The windows of the coffee shop— A woman melting down Into her shoulders, falling Into the arms of gravity, That old embrace. No one pulls free. No matter. For this afternoon, For a lambent, liquid moment, Let there be no fist-clenching Or breathless flutter-kicking. Instead, let me hold out my hand, Palm up, and watch the moment land.

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Down Here Biology is a tough boss. Be born, She orders—or forbids. Grow up, she adds, Unless death at an early age best suits A mood, some plan or pantheon, perhaps An all-encompassing simplicity As aimless and as lovely as a circle. Or so it seems down here, deep in this hide Where mites ride shining red-brown backs of heifers Carrying calves to term on prairie grass. Down here, between the first and final surge Across a synapse, in the tiny gaps Between one raindrop and the next, meanwhiles Persist—lapses in which a metronome Misses a beat that a Beethoven finds Or, in a storm with current flowing cloud To cloud, light flashes on a ceiling where A painted Adam nearly touches God Across an ache of painted interval.

Joslyn Green has read a lot, taught essay writing and Russian literature, published articles, edited glop, and (go figure) owned a small real estate brokerage. Along the way, she started writing poetry.

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Martha Kalin Beach Walk —for Jo Anne (1926-2011) The lake is such a gentle sea right now, the way it turns and sighs and carries you away from me. The lake is such a gentle sea— we hold on lightly, try to be like driftwood, settled in soft goodbyes. The lake is such a gentle sea right now, the way it turns and sighs.

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To Live Beyond Measure If we believe in anything we should believe in verbs, for of what use are we if not being? What use a stone or an echo, nouns that long to but can’t go home to make love the way verbs do? What use are lines that don’t end, ticking clocks that can’t tell whether or not time’s toes tap in rhythm towards the finish to surprise or delight us— better to live beyond measure, the right note simply pulsing the moment we stand up and sing.

Martha Kalin is a past winner of a Hopwood Award for Major Poetry from the University of Michigan, and recipient of several fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She spent years in health care management and now manages a retreat center in the foothills outside Boulder.

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Malinda Miller One Mile Off Highway 50 “The first cigarette of the day makes me sick,” he tells me, on his third, and yet to move from the kitchen where he woke. “And, now those damn Mormon crickets are back.” Up poles, under each foot, vibrating crickets. Green, orange, and brown -- a shiny wave migrates, itching to make their way across the road, between wall cracks. In second grade I saw a smoker's lung floating in a jar. In the bar one farmer says, “The buggers ingest twice their weight each day.” Night. That jarring lung. My father's chest. This swarm eating away.

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Call of the Desert Some say his land is no man’s land, out where salt flats were once a sea, where, what rules is the unplanned, and all forms of debauchery, where drivers carry a church key, and not for doors or for canned ham, where sky and road stretch out for me with no sign of a traffic jam. Out where rules are set in sand, where neighbors know the deputy and most have seen a witness stand, where friendly folks drop by to see what’s possible to get for free, and speed’s more frequent than road cram— old cars abandoned randomly comes closest to a traffic jam. His ranch attracts a scruffy band, resting for the next great spree, and, I know when I’m outmanned— out there I smilingly agree, uncharacteristically, while listening for another scam. Wide roads call seductively each time I’m in a traffic jam. Though with his friends I disagree, I truthfully don’t give a damn because right now I’d rather be out where there is no traffic jam. Malinda Miller goes by two different names and considers both Nevada and Colorado home. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and has two careers, two sons, two laptops, two cell phones, two bachelor’s degrees, and one master’s degree. Though this double life has not brought balance, she follows that illusion and is pursuing another master’s -- an MFA in poetry with an emphasis in verse craft from Western State College of Colorado. If nothing else, she gets to spend two weeks in Gunnison every summer while she finishes the degree.

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Jere Paulmeno For the Disappeared (March 24, 1976, from near Ave. Corrientes, Buenos Aires) I wake condemned to think of you, Victor and Magdalena. They put you in a covered truck And took you to your end. Left to live, I lie awake. I cannot sleep nor weep. My dire witness is my debt. I pay it long and deep. That night they made their mass arrests (We never guessed they would), Armed men with hooded heads broke in, Headlong to reach your bed. You woke to blows—they rushed you out— They left in single file— I crouched behind a dreadful silence And bedding in a pile. You went blindfolded—who knew where? From night to darker night? From being two to being none? There is no answering it. I dreamed you were reported found, But not alive, instead Dug up, bent sideways, shattered, bound, A bullet in each head. I live for proof that you still live, A prison photograph, But waking from my dream released Like stench of graves, the truth

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That thousands disappeared were killed And dropped into a pit, To endlessly end by secret order “The urgent leftist threat.” May pain conclude in this sad country, And those in future weep For you, Victor and Magdalena. May all of you find sleep.

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The Trail Into Clouds I took the trail this morning into clouds, An unawakened kind of day that shrouds The altitude of spruce. My breath forewarned A chill boreal emptiness of crowds. The trail soon made a disappearing turn Where gray met gray across an ancient burn. I stopped there, unattached to earth or sky, And watched a row of drops compose a fern, As might my grandfather, in wait for me, Have watched the ferns at switchback turns where he Would lean, look up, and order “Onward, men!” As if to where—only we could see. First him, then both of us, the world behind, We climbed together of a single mind By every zig and zag to reach the top, Our breath with clouds and clouds with breath combined.

Jere Paulmeno lives in metro Denver. He is a technical writer in the medical device industry. When not doing that, he writes poetry and rides his bike.

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Dale Schellenger Riddled We’re not friends, though I sleep, nested in you. I know, you’d kill me, no regrets, so why Pretend? You can’t relax. I’d kill you, too. We’re not friends, though I sleep, nested in you. Old egg, we two, we’re riddled through and through With enmities and lusts that do not die. We’re not friends, though I sleep, nested in you. I know you’d kill me, no regrets. So why?

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Scylla and Charybdis People I work with speak another tongue, Mellifluous yet brassy to my ear, For all I know, Cambodian or Hmong For “Buy more eggs” or “Don’t forget the beer.” But then they laugh. Their voices seem to float, Weary from lifting sorrows with their lilt, Yet supple, simple, native not remote, Milting the thick roe strewn on this day’s silt. I fathom nothing that they say, but hang, Suspended snugly, bound up by their sighs, Buoyant as when I swim. Once, sirens sang To snare Odysseus. More shrewd than wise, He eluded them. Yet once enthralled, Did he not split, struck like a stone and spalled?

Dale Schellenger is a retired child psychologist living in Denver with his wife and their son. His poems have appeared in Many Mountains Moving, Bringing Poetry to Life: New Voices, and (anciently) The Highland Echo. A student who has survived David J. Rothman’s erudition and learned much from him about how poetry works, Dale now reads and builds word contraptions with far more skill and pleasure than he did.

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Jody Sorenson The Middle Part Beginning points start at an edge— A cliff, your lips, a change in time. No matter what we plan or pledge Beginning points start at an edge. There’s mystery beneath the ledge— A bit of trouble? Joy sublime? Beginning points start at an edge— A cliff, your lips, a change in time. Ending points will tend to hide Behind a thousand little things. The threshold might be vast and wide And still the ending points will hide. Who ever wants to think love’s died? A sweetheart flown away on wings? Ending points will tend to hide Behind a thousand little things. The middle seems the oddest part, Between two poles, a time in life. Where does the middle end or start? The middle seems the oddest part: Both time and space and hard to chart Except by God’s clairvoyant wife. The middle is the oddest part: Between two poles, a time in life.

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Time Piece I loved you well while there was time Before you thought it such a crime To simply love, invest our days In easy kisses, quiet ways. We were content. We let it shine. What made you choose your path and climb Where you let go our loving time? Yet there, where sadness roots its maze, I loved you well. Along the way I passed my prime And you placed dime on dime on dime. Oh, once upon a time our gaze Could penetrate the thickest haze. Still this, to me, remains sublime— I loved you well.

Jody Sorenson has worked as an attorney, clinical psychologist and school psychologist. Five of her young adult novels were published when she was much younger. In her midfifties, inspired by the indie rock band Silver Jews, she became fascinated by song lyrics. This led to reading poetry, which led to writing poetry, because she cannot carry a tune. These are her first published poems.

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Susan Delaney Spear Faces of the Enemy She goes everywhere I go, A well-disguised, chic enemy. She’s my level-headed foe. When I wake up at five, I know She’ll hand a list of “shoulds” to me. She goes everywhere I go. Without her prodding, I’d grow slow, Neglect responsibility. She’s my reasonable foe. If not for her, I might let go, Give in to spontaneity, She goes everywhere I go. I might forget the debts I owe And live each day as if I’m free. But she’s a false, smooth-talking foe. I might make angels in the snow, But I’m bred by anxiety. She goes everywhere I go, That mendacious, two-faced foe.

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Twilight I can’t recall how I got here, By light year leap or slow, dead creep? First minute, hour, day, then year, I can’t recall how I got here. The details blur, then disappear. I dreamed my life in twilight sleep. I can’t recall how I got here, By light year leap or slow, dead creep?

Susan Spear teaches at Colorado Christian University, and she is a student in the poetry concentration of the Extended Studies Program at Western State College. She lives in Elizabeth, Colorado, where she and her dog Lady Guinevere explore the dusty plains.

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Richard Uhrlaub Your Silence Your silence tells the tale I hate to hear. It echoes in dark gallows of my mind And whispers lies from lips of love and fear. Our secrets, passed like children, mouth to ear, Have vanished with the life we left behind. Your silence tells the tale I hate to hear. When tales are told, most listeners draw near, But now I turn away, because I find We whispered lies from lips of love and fear. Your friends the harpies dive and peck and jeer Until my grief and rage have made me blind. Your silence tells the tale I hate to hear. It’s said a world exists within one tear And wounds must not be how we are defined. We whisper lies from lips of love and fear. Another day, another broken year Limps forward like so many of its kind, While silence tells the tale I hate to hear And whispers lies from lips of love and fear.

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Raw Tomato Love You tease me while you sunbathe, plump and firm, So hot to be my marinara sauce Or cool gazpacho. I would love to toss You in a salad if no early worm Has penetrated your pulp, you red floozy. Your curvy contours please my naked eye. I’ve longed to pluck you off the vine and fry You green and greasy, but I’m sort of choosy. Ah, please don’t pout, my Rubenesque nightshade— I knew you could enhance my lycopene Level from that first hungry time I looked. I can’t consume your pristine flesh pureed Or molded in some aspic for the queen, But I will taste your virgin skin uncooked.

Rich Uhrlaub is a sometimes-delinquent member of the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop and a contributing author to Finding Our Place: 100 Memorable Adoptees, Fostered Persons and Orphanage Alumni (ABC-CLIO/Greenwood, 2010), and Adoption and Mothering (Demeter Press, Spring 2012).

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Vol. 2.1 Spring 2012  

Don't Just Sit There Vol. 2.1

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