I Will Write My Name on a Stone Versifyâ€™s 2013 Poems of the Month
Poems of the Month • Table of contents • Pickett
February 28 without a Leap Year
by Chad Goodling, Manchester Township
Brillhart Station, York County
by Matthew Jackson, Hanover Borough
In Defense of Rhyme and Meter by Henry V. Krell, York Township
Queen of Swords
Coffee House Poetry
9~2~5 by Kristopher Ivie, Hellam Township
The Summer Without the Fence
Winter Has Just Begun
The Gift of The Twinkle by Shane Haddaway, Shrewsbury Township
by Elizabeth Weaver-Krieder, Lower Windsor Township
by Sara Rilatt, Manchester Township
by Kristopher Ivie, Hellam Township
by Pat Long, West Manchester Township
by Brittany Truscott, Windsor Township
by Asahel Church, York
by Marissa Hoffman, Hanover
Photo shown on opposite page. York’s poetry garden encourages visitors to “take a poem and leave a poem” in the mailbox provided. Cover photo. A recycled fountain adds a sense of tranquility to York’s community poetry garden. PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHRISTINE DEJULIIS
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Dear Versify readers, I’m so pleased to be able to offer this collection of poetry by York County writers. When I started the Poem of the Month contest last February, it was with the intent of getting people to participate in regular poem-writing, whether they considered themselves to be seasoned poets or not. What I found was that not only is southcentral Pennsylvania full of poets, it is also full of people interested in poetry. When a contest winner’s poem appears in the print newspaper, I always receive at least one phone call or email thanking me for promoting poetry — and on several occasions, asking me for more, more, more! To date, 88 poems have been entered in the contests. Here, I offer the 12 winners from 2013, in order. I chose, for the title of this collection, a line from May winner Elizabeth Weaver-Krieder: “I will write my name on a stone.” To me, this line embodies the spirit with which all 88 poems were created: the need, the determination, to define oneself, and to communicate and connect with others. Looking ahead in 2014, I hope to see more monthly entries, of course, but I also plan to try to post more of the entries individually, the way I do with the winners. My favorite aspect of this contest is that entries are immediately published to the blog via the contest post’s comment thread. Everyone gets published. I usually choose winners based on some aspect of their poems that gives me an “in” to discuss something about poetry that I haven’t yet covered on the blog. As such, I think the work here is diverse and eclectic, ranging from formal to free verse, narrative to lyric, rhyming couplets to long lines of prose — you name it, York County poets are doing it. For more on the poetry garden art featured here, visit the blog and find the Oct. 10, 2013 post titled “York makes poetry more visible with downtown poetry garden.” Special thanks to Samantha Dellinger, YDR’s graphic designer, who designed this e-book, and to YDR’s books editor, Sarah Chain for copy editing. Sam and Sarah, your time and talents are most appreciated! In closing, please share a link to this book with family and friends, and on social media. These poems were written by your neighbors, teachers, students (two poets featured here are ages 13 and 17!), local farmers and favorite baristas. They are meant to be shared and appreciated. Thanks for reading, and happy poeming! Sincerely, Stacia M. Fleegal email@example.com @shapeshifter43 and @VersifyYDR on Twitter www.yorkblog.com/versify Jan. 16, 2014
PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTINE DEJULIIS
Repurposed art, vibrant paint and, of course, poems turned an abandoned lot into a poetry garden.
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Pickett by Chad Goodling, Manchester Township West Point, the year 1946, Nobody knew the class “goat” would Live in infamy. Ambitious, he rose from lieutenant to captain, and so forth, Forging a path toward more prestigious battles and the history books. July the third, 1863 Sunlight gleamed off golden spurs in the Pennsylvania Summer, As Pickett called out, and his men, fellow Virginians drove toward the enemy and bloody death, in frenzied charge. From “Old Black,” his horror mounted as soldiers staggered back, few and far between, Injured and broken of hope those sights, he would never recover from. Now in death, a statue stands steadfastly commemorating the tragic hero, A definitive moment more than a man. Should anyone be defined In a moment?
JASON PLOTKIN — DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS
From the author: The poem I submitted was inspired by a trip I took to the Gettysburg battlefields last year. Since I have lived in this area most of my life, I am no stranger to Gettysburg. However, during this particular trip I got more interested in those on the Confederate side of the war. In the history books, especially in schools, the Confederates are viewed as the “bad guys.” When I was smaller, that’s definitely the way I viewed it. After thinking about it on the trip, I came home and started doing some more reading on the subject. I particularly found General Pickett interesting because of the massacre that bears his name. As I read I actually felt more and more sympathy for the man. The fact that he sent his soldiers into a death trap haunted him for the rest of his life, and how couldn’t it? It was a mistake that ended up defining his life and his place in history. I guess in thinking about the details of his life I realized how much more there is to historical figures than the history books reflect.
February 28 without a Leap Year Brillhart Station, York County
by Matthew Jackson, Hanover Dozens of tightly bound, whiter shade of beige Alice-in-Wonderland wine corks, tipped Over, over hip high — (Or are they giant, stainless Donkey Kong barrels? Mario could not leap these kingpins lest he were king of NFL combine) — Scattered cylinders, sealed by plastic mesh, lodged in Blanched beige beachhead of husk stubbles — Against endless, contorted, skeletal tree limbs, Against spoiled buttermilk in paint shaker sky. Soon, they will be heaved onto earnest trucks Headed to shredder shearing them into Hay for cattle fattened for Crimson slaughter, insatiable consumption. “Waste not, want not” On impotent fields shaved like Cavalierly cropped, crooked hairlines Of Holocaust ghosts. Maybe tomorrow, lurching toward Daylight savings time, I will brighten, but Tonight, still stuck in February, my cruelest month Of husk stubble days and tar-laden nights, Cycle of life only leaps Into cycle of death, back to lesser life, Or death with no further, apparent leads. Where and if it leaps does anyone know? Answers may be buried, digested, or half concealed In composting for family’s first garden or new urban farm, Tottering Phillies and colts learning how to trot, Gentle old horse buoying, befriending autistic child, Rustling, flapping innards of Amish child’s husk doll, Not to mention farming family’s subsistence. Tonight, with thick clouds and wailing winds swarming like winter’s last banshees, “Waste not, want not” looks more like overkill — Wine cork fragments flaking, raining Into bloody merlot, wasting Original purpose, ruining what would have been A decent drink, even if it wasn’t a good month or year.
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CHRIS DUNN — DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS
From the author: Like the transcendentalists of the 19th century, I am awestruck by nature’s permutations and how it gives us insight into universal but paradoxically fleeting truths. Through some poems such as this one, I try to memorialize nature’s brief portal into deeper emotions, questions, perspectives or truths. I enjoy walking on the rail trail at Brillhart Station or simply stopping to admire the farmland and scenery. One evening, Feb. 28, the lighting, clouds and eery, pale shade of the husk cylinders captivated me. As York County loses some of its agricultural roots and charm, it is important for our communities to not just value agricultural and farmland preservation for economic, planning, demographic and traffic reasons, which are important, but to value them also as aesthetic and moral essentials. They have intrinsic worth that art can reveal, honor and celebrate.
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In Defense of Rhyme and Meter by Henry V. Krell, York Township “Writing free verse is like playing tennis without a net.” — Robert Frost To play the game without a net Is doubtless easier, and yet, Like tennis on an open court Presents no challenge to be met. While musings in free verse purport To still with poetry comport, Let others play that simple game I’ll practice more demanding sport. Flowery prose can be a frame, But only poetry in name; Elaborate as it may be A rhymeless verse is not the same. And so while some may disagree, Just give me rhyme and prosody, For that’s the art of poetry … The heart and soul of poetry!
From the author: Although I appreciate all types of poetry, I feel that sometimes traditional poetry is not given enough respect. When I thought of Frost’s quote, I decided to use the structure, meter and rhyme scheme of one of his most famous poems, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.” I had more to say but was somewhat constrained by the self-imposed four-verse limit, so I did make one modification. To emphasize the miles to go before he slept, Frost ended “Woods” with two identical lines. I changed the final line somewhat in order to add more in a limited space, but kept the final two words of the last two lines identical in order to retain some semblance of the original structure.
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CHRISTOPHER GLASS — DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS
Queen of Swords by Elizabeth Weaver-Krieder, Lower Windsor Township There it is, the key to the door of this story: I will sit in my hut with the fire burning, light to shine out on the wintry world. My heart is here, and you are welcome. I will write my name on a stone, and drop it into the pond where the golden carp is waiting. I will whisper it into the feathers of the rusty screech owl who huddles in the hollow of the sycamore. I will of course tell the toad who watches from her litter of leaves. All I can do is to learn my own name. All I can offer you is the reason I chose it. I cannot give you springtime, and I cannot be your chalice. You have your own lonely road across this frozen tundra. But come, sit by my fire. My heart, I think I said, is here, and yours is welcome in this circle.
From the author: The Queen of Swords is a Tarot card that I have been pondering for some time. Her character brings the watery nature of her intuition and feeling life to the crystal clear and airy realm of her thinking life. She can appear to be aloof and distant, but inside herself she is making sense of the world of the soul, sorting out emotions, envisioning possibilities. I was doing some pondering of my own recently about the meaning of loyalty and support in the context of a friendship with someone whom I love dearly, but which was experiencing some distance; the Queen of Swords gave me a sense of how to position myself, to hold the heart space while not living in a constant state of unease.
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Meadowbrook Lane by Sara Rilatt, Manchester Township All it takes Is a glimmer of light, Reflecting just the right way, And I am catapulted into memory. To the days when my hands were small, My imagination limitless, My eyes wide with wonder. There was one summer day, painted in my mind With careful brushstrokes: Tree trunk towers, rough under my fingers. The ground dappled with flashes of sun. A warm perfume of sharp, sweet roses. Distant shout of melancholy music, faintly drifting. To me, that place tasted like taffy. Strawberry taffy, The kind that would melt slowly in your mouth. I savored it. Meadowbrook Lane was frozen in a haze of summer. It was a time of carefree notions, Deliberate ignorance of the broken world. Just a moment between the explosions, Where a little girl sat under the cornflower sky and remembered.
From the author: A few years ago, my family moved to York from Elizabethtown. Our house on Meadowbrook Lane, in Elizabethtown, holds my fondest childhood memories. To choose the subject of my poem, I just pictured one of the many beautiful moments in the backyard and tried to capture it as best I could.
Coffee House Poetry by Kristopher Ivie, Hellam Township A pungent aroma lingers Its fumes disorienting Brewed in a pot of culture Itâ€™s slowly fermenting The smell of brown encapsulates An acidic aroma Within the pot it percolates A civet style java An intoxicating perfume Attracting its purveyors They gather in a musty room Longing for its flavor Average taste must be refined To enjoy it at its best It opens up the sleeping mind With thoughts you canâ€™t digest The woody air soon overcomes Your olfactory detector The scent will surely trick your tongue With its smoky texture A single pot of ambiance Source of poetic perfume A once sweet smelling Renaissance soon empty and consumed
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From the author: I have often heard the quote from Anne Sexton, “God has a brown voice, as soft and full as beer.” I’m not a big fan of the abstract metaphor so my preference is to create metaphors that have both literal and figurative meanings. I picked coffee since it’s also a brown beverage and it provides me with ways to bury multiple messages in addition to the literal one. Coffee also provided me with a way to emphasize the sense of smell which was important in keeping with July’s theme of highlighting one of the five senses.
PORSCHELINN — FLICKR
Sharing by Pat Long, West Manchester Township It starts in April When the apple tree, covered with blooms, invites the bees to share. Soon the tree hums with their buzzing as they collect nectar. Yes, the sharing starts in April. It continues in May and June As the apples form, inviting various insects to lay eggs, feed larvae, who knows what else? I only see the telltale signs — holes, brown scaly patches, odd marks and shapes. So sharing continues through May and June. It’s more obvious in July. The birds and squirrels are attracted to the ripening fruit. I see them sit on branches and eat — birds reaching down pecking bits, squirrels holding apples and munching. Sharing becomes more obvious in July.
CHRIS DUNN — DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS
It accelerates in August As apples ripen and fall when the wind blows. Rabbits and ants quietly join the feast; wasps sip the soft fruit; even the groundhog returns. I only see him when the apples fall in August. Now it’s my turn. The apples aren’t beautiful or perfect, but good enough for pies and applesauce. And so plentiful — enough to freeze for winter and share with grandchildren. I watch them enjoy the tart, sharp flavor of summer’s end.
From the author: The apple tree in my poem is in our backyard. My husband planted it 20+ years ago when we bought this house. Since we try to garden without pesticides, the tree attracts many critters. This year it seemed especially busy and interesting to watch.
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9~2~5 by Kristopher Ivie, Hellam Township 9 Economic struggle to survive 2 I WISH 5 I worked nine to five 9 The alarm clock rings, the sun is down 2 WAKE UP 5 My feet hit the ground 9 One more straw will break the camel’s back 2 HUMP DAY 5 Try not to get sacked 9 Fueled by a paycheck that’s coming soon 2 BURNED OUT 5 I’m running on fumes 9 Last minute crisis, four thirty dash 2 REWARD! 5 A paycheck to cash (Hopefully on Saturday — I won’t have to come back)
From the author: This poem came to me at lunch time on a Tuesday after working from 6 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. the day before and coming into work at 6:15. I’m salaried so there is no difference in pay for an 8-hour day or an 11-hour day (or even that one time I had to work until 3:30 the next morning). I found myself wishing that there really was such a thing as 9 to 5. I decided to shout out each day of the typical work week. On Monday, I wish for a week without having to put in extra hours. On Tuesday, I struggle to wake up (which was definitely true on the day I wrote this poem). Wednesday (aka Hump Day), I convince myself that I don’t want to quit and I don’t want to be fired. On Thursday, I’m pretty much burned out. Then there is that last-minute crisis on Friday that threatens to ruin my plans for Saturday. Working on Saturdays doesn’t happen often, but it happens more often than it should. On the week I wrote the poem, I was fortunate enough to have my Saturday off. This has become the new normal for a lot of people, and I wanted to write a poem that expressed what the typical work week has truly become.
Yoe, Pennsylvania by Brittany Truscott, Windsor Township When we were eighteen, the abandoned cigar factory in the village of Yoe proved worthy of a Wednesday night’s entertainment so we drove three loud cars into the back parking lot of a building that time had forgotten as the market shifted from smoking rooms to radio rooms to TV rooms in what seemed like a few months time. We went in, through a broken glass door on the side that had been hastily boarded up and warned NO TRESPASSING and no one cared. Inside, things creaked and wires hung from the ceiling and the only light came from our flickering dim flashlights and the full moon outside. There were puddles of oil on the floor, and shredded newspapers reading 1954. While Deddick and Dengy and Dyl started throwing around boxes and climbing paper bale mountains, I envisioned cops with tasers breaking down the door with the smashed window and hauling us off to jail. While you could have persuaded me otherwise, or told me to relax and quit being so paranoid, you said we could go outside if it would ease my mind, so we stood guard by the door and for once we were alone in the bright moonlight of Yoe. You stood with your back against the weed woods and I with my back against the cinderblock building. I said are you scared? and you replied no even though it was nearing Halloween. You wanted to kiss me, I could see it in your eyes. But being eighteen was hard and we stood there like eighth graders at a junior high dance, arms folded awkwardly, looking down, and then into each other’s eyes, talking about adventure, and calculus, and what it might feel like to be in each other’s arms.
JEREMY LONG — LEBANON DAILY NEWS
From the author: One of my favorite seasons in life so far was late in my high school years. I fell in love with a boy who made me feel alive. We had this amazing group of friends from all different cliques and sports teams and academic paths, and our friendships were based on adventure, deep, soul-searching conversations, laughter and (to my parents’ dismay) some slight risk-taking. The poem is about a time we thought it would be fun to break into an abandoned factory and explore around the time of Halloween. We did all kinds of things like that — explored old haunted farmhouses, cornfields and cemeteries. We were always searching for a story to tell.
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The Summer Without the Fence by Asahel Church, York The summer without the fence Was the summer we tore down The old rusted chain-link Scaring off play dates (it seemed dangerous) But coveted by the scrapyard junkies Who trawled the alley We were filled with the zeal Of making olds things new Until the front porch roof gave way And used up our precious savings On a replacement instead That was the summer without a fence The summer without the fence Was the summer the cucumbers Took over the garden We traded with the Señor across the street for habañeros And the kids from the apartments helped themselves To our baby pool (we hardly blamed them, it was so hot). That summer we felt naked, and open, and freeThat summer was the summer our little girl Learned to ride a tricycle Braving the cracked and uneven sidewalks Up and down, her brave feet straining at the pedals And her face set in determined exuberance, Ready to conquer the world. We thought she’d be ours forever The way that summer days stretch out foreverBut that was the summer she disappeared, Our precious little baby girl, Suddenly, without a trace, In a godforsaken moment of inattentiveness, She slipped through our careless fingers Like sand on the beach in those final days of summer Without a fence.
From the author: Besides writing poetry, I imagine story-lines of novels that I never write. The idea of “The Summer Without the Fence” came from one such story-line, inspired as it often is by real life. Recently my neighbors and I did have a fence built, which got me thinking about the cost of living life that embraces the world rather than shuts it out. Robert Frost’s famous narrator asks the same question, wondering “what I was walling in, and what I was walling out.” In this story-line of mine, a young couple, recently moved to the city, embrace their neighborhood and all its glorious ruin only to be struck by a tragedy that forces them to reconsider their trust in their fellow human beings. I believe in redemption, though, so there’s hope at the end. There is a cost to humanity but it has strangely already been paid.
Winter Has Just Begun by Marissa Hoffman, Hanover Dusk pulls its blanket up early for bed Slightly after the hand grips the five And all the goodnight stories have been read Hello, goodbye, winter has just begun Once heavy laden trees now rest with ease As leaves slip hold and turn from red to brown And all are gently tugged and twirled with peace Hello, goodbye, winter has just begun Children play outside with hats and gloves And cold brushes both cheeks with red blush-tone They jump and laugh carefree with playful shoves Hello, goodbye, winter has just begun They gather ‘round and decorate the house And hang the stockings up and light the tree When done all turns as silent as a mouse Hello, goodbye, winter has just begun Then soon the roads are glossed with snow and ice And all stay warm with tea and cozy throws Snowed in, the need for rest will just suffice Hello, goodbye, winter is almost done
From the author: I chose the subject for this poem because of what time of year it is. The transition from fall into winter is so beautiful, and I really wanted to bring that to life. There are so many opportunities to create special moments during winter time, and I wanted to capture them for the reader.
JEFF LAUTENBERGER — FOR THE DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS
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The Gift of The Twinkle by Shane Haddaway, Shrewsbury Township See ribbons swim through themselves under Saintly cover of the pine, dashing and splashing gracefully, one box at a time. Laying wake, ever carefully in the lights of Christmas morning, yet the twinkle has not yet found an eye. Magic and wonder breathe tinsled crispness through the air, stirs and quiet purrs are soon to rise with wild stares, bedside as the time arrives and it is Christmas morning, yet the twinkle has not yet found an eye. Frenzied shreddings of graceful ribboned splashes sink the floor, fractured ornamental sentiments and wrappings tore, a child turns and smiles at her Dad on Christmas morning, and now the twinkle has found an eye.
MISSMESSIE — FLICKR
From the author: I saw through a link on Facebook that your blog had asked for poems regarding presents and holidays, and so, being a father, I decided to write about the gift of experiencing the joy in your children.
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