Poem of the Week, by Grace Schulman

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

Find the ducks

The pink stucco and stone house across the street is slanty, sprawling, and old, with a few apartments carved out of what at one point must have been a single-family house. I think of it as the Francis of Assisi house – the place exudes an easygoing generosity and a happiness with the earth it’s built on.

Animals think so too. Squirrels, birds, and rabbits abound in the yard. A family of ducks has lived there for years, right here in the middle of the city. The inhabitants of the Francis of Assisi house put out birdbaths and a tiny pool for them. The ducks fly to nearby rooftops, including ours, and perch there to survey the block.

When walking home I sometimes see a car or two waiting patiently for the ducks to cross the street. Neighbors stroll by to watch the ducks. The ducks live happily on our block in the duck world that they and everyone else seem to love. They remind me of this beautiful poem.

Because, by Grace Schulman

Because, in a wounded universe, the tufts
of grass still glisten, the first daffodil
shoots up through ice-melt, and a red-tailed hawk

perches on a cathedral spire; and because
children toss a fire-red ball in the yard
where a schoolhouse façade was scarred by vandals,

and joggers still circle a dry reservoir;
because a rainbow flaunts its painted ribbons
and slips them somewhere underneath the earth;

because in a smoky bar the trombone blares
louder than street sirens, because those
who can no longer speak of pain are singing;

and when on this wide meadow in the park
a full moon still outshines the city lights,
and on returning home, below the North Star,

I see new bricks-and-glass where the Towers fell;
and I remember my lover’s calloused hand
soften in my hand while crab apple blossoms

showered our laps, and a yellow rose
opened with its satellites of orange buds,
because I cannot lose the injured world

without losing the world, I’ll have to praise it.

For more information on Grace Schulman, please click here.

Words by Winter: my new podcast

Poem of the Week, by Harryette Mullin

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

Hearing someone use the word “they” when describing a group of people –gay, Black, poor, immigrant, etc.–makes me wary and tired because I know I then have to tilt my head and say When you say ‘they,’ who exactly do you mean?

I hate doing this because I hate confrontation, however subtle. The question alone usually serves its purpose, but not if the response is You know what I’m talking about. Then I lie —Not really– and wait politely for the next response, and on and on until the point’s been made, the way this poem does with such succinct power.

Elliptical, by Harryette Mullen

They just can’t seem to . . . They should try harder to . . . They ought to be more . . . We all wish they weren’t so . . . They never . . . They always . . . Sometimes they . . . Once in a while they . . . However it is obvious that they . . . Their overall tendency has been . . . The consequences of which have been . . . They don’t appear to understand that . . . If only they would make an effort to . . . But we know how difficult it is for them to . . . Many of them remain unaware of . . . Some who should know better simply refuse to . . . Of course, their perspective has been limited by . . . On the other hand, they obviously feel entitled to . . . Certainly we can’t forget that they . . . Nor can it be denied that they . . . We know that this has had an enormous impact on their . . . Nevertheless their behavior strikes us as . . . Our interactions unfortunately have been . . .

For more information about Harryette Mullin, please click here.
Words by Winter: my new podcast

Poem of the Week, by Michael Pearce

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

Yesterday a friend told me that when his family tracks mud inside he goes silent and forces himself to be calm while he scrubs it away. He doesn’t want his children to go through what he did. As he spoke I remembered yelling at my little kids and hating myself for it.

And I remembered a year ago, when a young father and his little son meandered by my house. The boy desperately wanted a toy on the lawn across the street. He went into full meltdown, screaming and thrashing, but his father knelt down and spoke softly.

You really want the truck, don’t you. Do you want to talk about it?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

His father picked him up and held him while they talked. By the end of the block, he was calm. When I read this beautiful poem I thought about my friend’s determination not to repeat his father’s patterns. I pictured that young dad and how he soothed his son. It gives me hope for the future.

My Father Got Beat, by Michael Pearce

My father got beat
but he never beat me.

His skinny frame would tighten up,
he’d start to shake with a seething rage
at my errors, my arrogance,
he’d clench his bony fingers and say
“I’ll sock ya” but he never did.

My father’s father drank like a drunk.
He hit my dad,
called him a sissy,
infected him with T.B.,
threatened him with a knife,
and sometimes just disappeared
for a week or longer.
My dad drank at night,
drank beer and worked.
A quiet man, he put in long hours
and never talked about what hurt.

He told me that when he’d worked
Emergency at County General
he’d seen what beatings do to kids
and then he knew he’d never beat his.
He didn’t say much about himself
but he told me that.

You’ll hear guys say
they’d take a bullet for their kid.
You’ll hear guys say a lot of stuff.
My dad stepped between a bullet and me,
stopped that mayhem
from ripping through his chest and
into the hearts of the ones he loved,
did it at a cost to his angry soul,
did it for me and my sister and brother
and for what is decent.

One time I got up the nerve
to tell him I loved him.
All he could say was thank you.

MICHAEL PEARCE’s first collection of poems, Santa Lucia by Starlight, is forthcoming.

Words by Winter: my new podcast

Poem of the Week, by Chen Chen

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

This gorgeous poem goes out to all the gay men –my love and thanks for the boundless comfort and acceptance and laughter and love you have given me my entire adult life–and gay women and gay children and teens I’ve loved in my life, and lo, there are so many.

To my family and everyone in it, gay and straight and trans and bi and anything else that might come along. To all the beautiful men in drag I admired in the women’s room at Man Ray back in the day. To all of you we lost to the plague.

To saying no to people who tell you you’re a no. To everyone who stands up for others, known or not. Most of all, to the absolute joy of being exactly who you are in the midst of people who love you for exactly that.

Summer, by Chen Chen

You are the ice cream sandwich connoisseur of your generation.

Blessed are your floral shorteralls, your deeply pink fanny pack with travel-size lint roller just in case.

Level of splendiferous in your outfit: 200.

Types of invisible pain stemming from adolescent disasters in classrooms, locker rooms, & quite often Toyota Camrys: at least 10,000.

You are not a jigglypuff, not yet a wigglytuff.

Reporters & fathers call your generation “the worst.”

Which really means “queer kids who could go online & learn that queer doesn’t have to mean disaster.”

Or dead.

Instead, queer means, splendiferously, you.

& you means someone who knows that common flavors for ice cream sandwiches in Singapore include red bean, yam, & honeydew.

Your powers are great, are growing.

One day you will create an online personality quiz that also freshens the breath.

The next day you will tell your father, You were wrong to say that I had to change.

To make me promise I would. To make me promise.

& promise.

For more information on Chen Chen, please check out their website.