Friday, October 01, 2010


I'm deeply appreciative of Leny Strobel's review of THE THORN ROSARY in the new issue of Moria Poetry. Thank you, Leny, and Moria editor Bill Allegrezza.

And I note that Leny's review begins
I am not Catholic and do not pray The Rosary and so do not remember how I came to memorize Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. Perhaps from the catechism class in elementary school or from hearing the rosary recited at funerals, masses, and other Catholic rituals that seeped their way into my consciousness.

I’ve always felt envious of my Roman Catholic friends. Growing up non-Catholic, I was forbidden to set foot inside the cathedrals and so the glimpses that I got of the ornate altars, saint statues, stained glass windows, frescoes, and places of rituals made me wish that my own church wasn’t so austere and bereft of such symbols. To this day The Rosary, as a symbol that carries History, fascinates me.

Synchronicity--I believe Leny was raised as a Methodist, as I was. I wonder what a Catholic reviewer would actually do with The Thorn Rosary....well, besides consign Moi to Hell, of course (grin).

Anyway, one of my favorite parts of Leny's review is:
See Thomas Fink’s and Joi Barrios’ essays in this book—they too have tried to ride this Beauty, tried to frame it within certain boxes (the former as an extension on work done on the prose poem form by Gertrude Stein, John Ashbery and Language poets; the latter as following up on early female Philippine poets and storytellers)—still these poems always escape their boxes.

I love it -- there's a deeply considered Introduction, and a deeply considered Afterword...and a reader thinks the poems slip through these deep thoughts. Slippery eels, and glorious in their mermaid dresses, these poems that no one can ever really capture....

And, particularly for this book which is a "Selected Poems" project, I can't fathom how the majority of these poems came to be written through a pen I once wielded. I look at this poem now, that Leny also highlighted, and can share that I don't remember writing it and can only read it now with some bemusement.
—after “on God (en Garde)” by Archie Rand

The farmers are monitoring the sky. Rain dilutes sweetness in the grapes. Knuckles knot into themselves, mimic the knees of hundred-year-old grapevines. The cabernet hang like purple testicles. I am always fingering a bunch. Sometimes I pinch off a globe, split its skin before my lips and suck at its membrane. The farmers measure brix mathematically. I want my body to determine truth like Cezanne painted rocks instead of images. When I see the winged shadow glide over the fruit-laden fields of September’s wine country, I know better than to question how my body doubles over. How my mouth gasps. I feel blood flowing out of a creature, somewhere, felled on its path. Its last vision will be a vulture’s open beak. Sweetness, let the harvest begin under the most livid sun. “Sweetness” —perhaps I mean You, dear “God.” Lord, I am praying for life and living—I am making poems.

Years ago, I did a poetry reading and a winemaker in the audience said about my "purple testicles" reference that he'll never harvest in the same way again (heh)...

...And I wonder about you, oh most livid sun... Well, hopefully dear Peeps, you'll also check out The Thorn Rosary: for about two decades, I'd been writing it for You...

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