Moons, Roads, and Rivers

Cover Image by Michael B. McFarland

UPDATE:

Moons, Roads, and Rivers, my first chapbook, is about to be released from Finishing Line Press. Click here to order your copy!

The printer is running a few weeks behind, but it looks like any pre-orders should arrive by Christmas or the New Year at the latest.

Moons, Roads, and Rivers is a small collection of poems set along highways and side roads from Pennsylvania to Indiana, from backyards and bar stools to graveyards and broken-down cars. Continue reading “Moons, Roads, and Rivers”

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The Poem Fixed My Ending

Frequently I’ve gotta do all of this work first, and then just wait and listen.
Yeah, don’t even bother.

I’ve been working on a poem since last Easter. Not unusual. Most of them don’t come quickly. Well, they may start quickly, but they don’t often come all at once. This poem was almost all there, but it had some issues. And the ending, well, the ending was more like just a stopping. It was true. It was what happened, but it wasn’t right.

So I was working on other poems this evening and decided to pull the Easter one up again to see if it wanted to play. Oh lord, the first line was a stumble, not just the ending, but the very first line. I made a note beside it saying, Continue reading “The Poem Fixed My Ending”

Happy Birthday to Mary Oliver

Back in the studio on our birthday.

Oh, yeah, and to me! There’s a poet whose loss I was planning to write about, but then I remembered that I share a birthday with Mary Oliver today. And so instead of thinking about aging and death, I decided that first, it would be a good idea to spend a little time in the studio with some of Mary’s poems today.

Yesterday on Twitter, poet Chen Chen, author of When I Grow Up I Want To Be a List of Further Possibilities, tweeted that he enjoyed actually writing out or typing other people’s poems. What a cool idea! And so I tweeted back, well, this:

And while I think writing the poems of others would be an equally interesting and enlightening exercise, it’s probably not that much fun for you to watch or listen to me doing it. So for now, I’ve resorted to my old practice of recording poems that I love, partly just because I love them and partly as a way to more fully live within,  and come to know them. As Chen Chen says, “rhythmic inhabiting”

For this September 10th, on which both Mary Oliver and I were born (Honestly, it really was my idea, and she didn’t seem to mind), I pulled her collection Evidence off my shelf and went into my studio; some might call it a bedroom. And here are a few poems of hers that I enjoyed vocalizing. I hope you enjoy them.

And here are a few poems of hers that I enjoyed vocalizing. I hope you enjoy them.

If you liked these poems, as my friend Neil Silberblatt says, please go to your local independent bookstore and they can get you a copy of the book so you can enjoy all of them. If you don’t have a local independent bookstore, stop by your local library.

And, though I am no Mary Oliver, my first chapbook has some similar themes and settings. I suppose I was influenced by her more than I realized. It’s called Moons, Roads, and Rivers, and it is available now for pre-order from Finishing Line Press. You’ll be able to get it from your local bookseller after November 17th, but if you’d like to have a copy anyway, ordering from the publisher by September 22nd helps me out by increasing the final press run and making us best friends. Hey, maybe you could even order a copy for your local library! Just a thought. Thanks for your help, whatever you can do.

To order my chapbook (THANK YOU!)  click here. To read more about it and link to a few sample poems, go here. Thanks for making it a happy birthday. I’ll tell Mary you said hello.

Poetry Month Playlist Wrapup

An old favorite of the whole crew, poets on the ends, guitar players in the middle.

My youngest boy had a lovely idea for Poetry Month; we would agree on a poet for each week of April and each of us would record a poem or more by that poet. It was fun, and I even found a few poems by these favorites that I hadn’t heard before. You can follow back through this blog and his, or to skip the commentary and just go for the audio experience, we’ve put together the whole playlist. As the young man says, it only takes about 9.5 minutes to listen through.

Of Peaches and Plumbs: Things, Ideas, and Wheelbarrows

English: Photograph (believed to be passport p...
Probable passport photo of American poet and physician William Carlos Williams. Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Yesterday Micah shared a brilliant interpretation of “that plums poem,” a video of Mathew Macfadyen dramatizing William Carlos Williams’ little piece “This is Just to Say.” Do me a favor, click here and watch it (It’ll open in a new window) and then come back. I’ll wait.

Back? Worth it, right? That video was part of a larger DVD collection released in the UK in 2004 by Daisy Goodwin, called Essential Poems (to Fall in Love with).  It seems to be impossible to find the whole production or a copy of it that will play in an American DVD drive at this point. But you can find some other scattered clips here and there if you are willing to do some digging.

What follows is a slightly revised article I wrote some time ago on the blog, in which I ramble on about everything from modern poetry to Aristotle’s critique of forms.  I won’t be offended if you skip down to the video in which I portray Kenneth Koch’s play on the plums piece. Continue reading “Of Peaches and Plumbs: Things, Ideas, and Wheelbarrows”

In Memory of Okla Elliot, Three Poems

On Monday morning, the first day of spring, I stepped out my door and looked up to the clouds that were breaking. I smiled to think how the chill this morning would be warming up as the day went on, according to the weather forecast. Still gazing at the sky, I remember saying, “Good morning, World!” Well, I started to say that, but as the W came out my foot slid out and away, landing me instantly and jarringly on my back. I don’t know how I managed to not crack my head open on the concrete steps, let alone how I saved all but a few drops from my coffee thermos.

The pain I would be in was not yet fully known. I was up immediately and spreading salt on the steps. The previous layer had been washed away by yesterday’s melting snow, and the water had frozen over again in the night. Continue reading “In Memory of Okla Elliot, Three Poems”