The Elizabeth Barrett Browning Room
Prairies of Possibilities
by Duane Herrman
112 pgs $14.95
"I prize your book; it reaches out for the elements of our lives and does so in a context I know and cherish myself." William Stafford, poet
Duane has been published in more than a dozen countries, in four languages. He has received national and international awards and recognition for his outstanding work, which includes the prestigious Robert Hayden Poetry Fellowship.
Sitting on the rocks
on the edge of the lake,
the water gently claps
into holes and spaces.
The breeze bringing waves,
bring ancient sounds
that have survived
the post-Columbian age;
Thumping, thumping, rhythmic thumping
drums and chants;
in clear and ringing tones
through the opposite trees.
The chants of America;
native words in native voices,
five hundred years endured,
proudly raised once more.
In the clear evening sky,
the night queen sails,
smiles on children of the moon,
knowing they will shine once more.
There is a stillness
over the hills and fields;
meadows lie baking
in the heat.
There is no breath.
Birds are silent and the weeds
grow lank and seed.
The heat will feel you too.
Poems and musings by Betty Laird
Betty is a writer, historian, and actress. When Ed Asner was in the Midwest making a network television movie, it was Betty who was cast as his wife, that's how good she is. Nevermind that her daughter, Heather, is a Kansas City casting agent, even she can't get her mother into a network movie if the actress isn't worthy of the role.
I've seen two plays written by Betty, Essential Elements, a mystery that's first rate, and A Song in the Wind, an historical drama that had the house packed every time it ran. The critics were blown away, as were the audiences.
She lives in Lawrence, Kansas where she keeps busy with her writing and her research on all kinds of history. Under the Tell-Me-Something-Most-Folks-Don't-Know-About-Betty category: She plays a mean guitar, has a fine singing voice, and wrote a very serious book about agriculture in Russia.
Intruder in My Garden
Eyes glinting, tongue flicking, he lies coiled
by my garden fence. The hairs on my neck rise.
How dare he invade my sanctuary!
I did not invite him! Go away, Snake!
But he does not go.
A slit along his tail
exposes oozing tissue.
A careless mower, perhaps? Or
dropped by an errant hawk, has he sought
refuge in my garden?
Refuge? No! Go away, Snake!
Your slithering presence is not wanted here
contaminating my roses and sweet basil!
But, tongue-testing the air for danger,
he does not go.
So I leave him. He is no threat to me.
I will step cautiously.
He will catch bugs.
In time, we may become friends.
Perhaps God sent him to me,
to my tiny Eden.
I feel, somehow ... dare I say it?...
The snake has moved.
He now lies beneath my lavender,
sheltered from the sun,
head lifted slightly. But wait!
His eyes, no longer glinting, are glazed.
He is dead.
"No!" I cry. "This is not fair! I had accepted
him. He was mine!"
But he was God's, and my sense of loss
It is November. A single leaf clings
to a branch on my redbud tree.
I marvel at its tenacity. Is a lesson
there to be learned, I wonder?
Is tenacity a virtue in itself - clinging
to a commitment long past its usefulness,
holding on when all hope has flown,
beyond any reward?
Or is it the satisfaction in the deed itself
the accomplishment purely
generated in the mind
of the doer alone?
The leaf has fallen to the ground.
The Maple Leaf
It was autumn, and a leaf fell
through the sun-roof, into my car.
A maple leaf fell
into my car, settling softly
onto the seat where it lay.
Like me, it was withered.
Like me, wrinkled and dry,
but a narrow band of green
clung to its spine.
A leaf fell into my car.
A maple leaf fell.
Carmella Among the Nastrurtiums
Pampered, protected, by no accident
of birth, a Bichon Frise. Familiar
only with city pavement, walls, and
laps, she is presented with a LAWN!
The door slides open,offering a whiff of something
unfamiliar, teasing her nose.She raises her head,
breathing in the unknown, listening,
savoring the excitement.
Trembling, she hesitates, absorbed by new
sounds. A sparrow chirps, a runner thuds by, a katydid
chatters. She steps over the sill, down onto
the GRASS. A nasturtium whispers. Cautious,
she advances, sniffing the orange blossom, gray
to dog eyes, but intriguing.
She turns way, breaks into a trot, awkward at first, testing
her tiny legs. She eases into a run, circles the yard, returns,
circles again, leans into the wind, ears flapping,
tiny legs churning, a growl of pleasure coursing
from her throat.
Then a bark,
and another, as she barrels into the wind, yapping
her delight, circling the yard, over and over, gaining
speed she has never known, may never know
again. Around and around she flies, joy
in her heart, wind in her ears, until she drops
onto the damp grass, exhausted.
She stretches in the glory of her release. Savoring
scents new to her nostrils, she buries
her nose in the wet, rolls, over and over until,
covered with bits of new-mown grass,
she rest, breathing deeply of freedom.
Our eyes meet over the rim of a glass
on a cool autumn evening,
the sun reflecting gold on the lake,
a swallow slicing the mauve above.
A thought is tossed, caught in midair,
and returned - with adornment.
A spark is truck, igniting the kindling of our minds.
She comes to me wounded, but healing,
fearing to reach out, yet wanting to,
I take her hand and give her balance.
She takes mine and gives me purpose.
Together we gambol on the lawn of query,
testing the way.
We thread the hazards, probe for mines. Then,
building trust, we burn bridges.
Had we met before, when she was stronger than I,
would she had noticed, paused,
raised an eyebrow?
Or would her agile mind have skipped over me,
neither seeing, nor caring?
But, her heart still tender, we touch fingertips,
hers older than mine, and cold.
They have taken hold of my heart, warming us both,
and now they are precious to me.
We are not lovers, and yet do we love,
for we see our future in each other's eyes,
reflecting in the pools of memory
refracted rainbows of the past.
Born of respect for what she is that I am not
and for what I am that she is not,
ours is a new love, but it will last,
for, though time is short, it is long enough.
The Ultimate Indignity
Have mercy, we implore!
Our dignity restore!
The mammogram please take away.
I'd never've believed
The evil conceived
When Xray technicians hold sway.
They compress, they crush,
Your portets they shush,
Your breasts 'tween flatirons mangle.
Your pain is ignored,
TYour dignity abhorred,
Your hospital gown all a'dangle.
But it doesn't stop there
I'm sad to declare,
Tho' you'd think them well 'nough equipped.
To get a clera picture,
While you're held in stricture,
Your nipples with BBs are tipped!!
Poetry of a Lifetime
by Marcel Toussaint
Published by NACG Press
235 pages Trade
The book is arranged in an interesting tapestry of words and images. Poetry of a Lifetime is the autobiography of a remarkable and sensitive man who tells his story in narrative, sketches and prose. The account is made more real by an array of photographs that take the reader to Toussaint's beginnings in Morocco, where he was born on All Saints Day, to his current home in St. Louis.
A swordsman of note, a poet with ties to Europe, he manages to pull you into his triumphs and tragedies, leaving you with the pleasant sensation of having come to know not just the writer, but the human being behind the words.
Way beyond the trees near the horizon,
a sky of fused colors, an abstraction,
pinkish into faint purple, blending
with tinted patches of soft white frosting.
In tricolor blush an angelic glow;
through it is hurtling a budding rainbow.
The luminance heightened in grey surround
makes one wish it would all stay around.
Just there, on the patio, the music started.
You were there, petite, an elegance I had only dreamed,
a smile, the smile of a person happy with herself.
Simply, you said your name; simply, I said my name.
It was meant that we would lift our arms
to hold and dance right there
to swingy music rhythms breaking away,
giving a chance to see you whole, We danced all night; We danced all night.
Web design Esther Luttrell 2010
Artists copyright Duane Herrmann, Betty Laird, Marcel Toussaint