This issue provides a testimony to the imagination and diversity of voices within our poetry community. I came away from my final read-through feeling lifted, reassured. Though the chaos of war and destruction in Ukraine persists (see Lisa Ni Bhraonain), and the pandemic and global warming are still with us (see Lorraine Jeffery, Pepper Trail, or Natalie Callum), our collective imaginations are drawn to birds, colors, and lions–yes, I said lions! Alcosser’s poem prompt also led some of us to speak of our fathers (Laura Ann Reed, Scott Lowery) or to go back in time to those formative years that shaped our becoming (Catherine McGuire, Suzy Harris, Vivienne Popperl, Robin Michel, Gary Lark). One poet, Laurie Kolp, wove a new poem from a golden shovel, using two lines of Alcosser for the end words to each line of her poem.
As Heather Truett puts it, “The birds told me everything . . . My story would never be truer than a bird’s song.” And Pepper Trail concurs: “ . . . we learn at last the awe that was in the robins always.” “How can you not love something with red wings?” says Beate Sigriddaughter. Frank Rossini adds, “a crow rises . . . a small crucifix of black feathered light down my long lens.” Laura Ann Reed is direct: “my mother . . . was a dark bird of prey . . . my dad, that red bird of love.”
The reds continue with Toti O’Brien whose father was fond of red. Lisa Ni Bhraonain begins with the red of Helium, the blue of Hydrogen, and follows with “the advent of a fourth color” –saffron, sulfuric yellow. A full array of color appears in the gardens of Louise Cary Barden’s “Taking Stock.”
But the lions were the greatest surprise. Says Cameron Morse: “some fight with the lion in your den, bombed out porcupine hairdo daughter, are you all right?” C. Desirée Finley speaks of training a lion: “your love lays down a path . . . . Lions can pick up on that.” And finally, for Louise Cary Barden, the lions act as her familiar, hovering close throughout the day until sleep, when “I walk in golden grass beside a river, sun warm on my back, a wide plain ahead. The lions pad beside me”–our hidden strengths.
Jessica Billey has generously headed each page with a piece from her Antler Family series or one of her botanical woodcuts. Her notes on the Back Page are illuminating; she is an artist of many talents!
Once again, I have attempted to offer you a bit of a map both to ease your navigation through the journal and to draw you into it. Forty-nine poems–I have mentioned less than half! It might take more than a single sitting. Take your time, my father once said to me in a fretful moment, enjoy the breeze, the songs of the birds; and please share what you enjoy with your friends!