Poem of the Week, by Cathy Ross

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

Years ago my daughter and I spent a magical week in Istanbul. We visited mosques, ate Turkish candy, drank mint tea, took a boat down the Bosphorus to the mouth of the Black Sea, smoked a hookah on the front porch of a restaurant where we sat for hours watching the passersby. We were mistaken, variously, for Brazilian, French, and Canadian women.

One evening, while my daughter slept, I sat by the window and listened to the calls of the muezzins rising over the city in the call to prayer. The sound filled my heart and I told myself what I always do when something beautiful happens during a trip: You’ll be back, Allie. You’ll hear this again. But I won’t. Every beautiful moment is a miracle, and then it’s gone.

If the Moon Came Out Only Once a Month, by Cathy Ross

If the moon came out only once a month
people would appreciate it more. They’d mark it
in their datebooks, take a walk by moonlight, notice
how their bedroom window framed its silver smile.
And if the moon came out just once a year,
it would be a holiday, with tinsel streamers
tied to lampposts, stores closing early
so no one has to work on lunar eve,
travelers rushing to get home by moon-night,
celebrations with champagne and cheese.
Folks would stay awake ’til dawn
to watch it turn transparent and slowly fade away.
And if the moon came out randomly,
the world would be on wide alert, never knowing
when it might appear, spotters scanning empty skies,
weathermen on TV giving odds—“a 10% chance
of moon tonight”—and when it suddenly began to rise,
everyone would cry “the moon is out,” crowds
would fill the streets, jostling and pointing,
night events would be canceled,
moon-closure signs posted on the doors.
And if the moon rose but once a century,
ascending luminous and lush on a long-awaited night,
all humans on the planet would gather
in huddled, whispering groups
to stare in awe, dazzled by its brilliance,
enchanted by its spell. Years later,
they would tell their children, “Yes, I saw it once.
Maybe you will live to see it too.”
But the moon is always with us,
an old familiar face, like the mantel clock,
so no one pays it much attention.
why not go outside and gaze up in wonder,
as if you’d never seen it before,
as if it were a miracle,
as if you had been waiting
all your life.

For more information on Cathy Ross, please check out her website.


Poem of the Week, by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

Dog person versus cat person versus beer versus wine versus Gen Z versus baby boomers versus millennials versus Gen X versus The Greatest Generation versus red states versus blue states versus New England versus Midwest versus West versus North versus South versus pro versus anti.

Categorization makes me tense. Can’t I love both dogs and cats? (I do.) Can’t I be a novelist and a poet and a picture book writer? (I am.) Why do any of us have to be this and not that? Someone profits by having us believe it’s a good thing to divide, slot, label and categorize, and it’s not us. I love blurred lines and this poem for the same reason.

Where We Are Headed, by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

At first we just say flower. How
thrilling it is to name. Then it’s
aster. Begonia. Chrysanthemum.

We spend our childhood learning
to separate one thing from another.
Daffodil. Edelweiss. Fern. We learn

which have five petals, which have six.
We say, “This is a gladiolus, this hyacinth.”
And we fracture the world into separate

identities. Iris. Jasmine. Lavender.
Divorcing the world into singular bits.
And then, when we know how to tell

one thing from another, perhaps
at last we feel the tug to see not
what makes things different, but

what makes things the same. Perhaps
we feel the pleasure that comes
when we start to blur the lines—

and once again everything
is flower, and by everything,
I mean everything.

For more information on Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, please check out her website.


Poem of the Week, by Kirsten Dierking

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

Last week a writer friend and I hiked through the woods and talked about how in middle age you realize that some things won’t happen. You’ve run out of time to be an Olympic athlete, to have a sixty-year marriage, to sail around the world on a boat you built yourself.

We talked about how mystifying it is to realize that some things you thought you wanted were precluded from the start by circumstances, or by your own personality. Because you were frantically busy trying to earn a living, or raise your children, or hold yourself together. Because in truth you crave solitude, time to make art.

We talked about our books, and how often we feel like failures. Then we ordered more cocktails and ate cake and laughed. I feel so lucky to have friends like him, and to live this odd life of mine, so full of failure and love in equal measure.

Lucky, by Kirsten Dierking

All this time,
the life you were
supposed to live
has been rising around you
like the walls of a house
designed with warm
harmonious lines.

As if you had actually
planned it that way.

As if you had
stacked up bricks
at random,
and built by mistake
a lucky star.

For more information about Kirsten Dierking, please click here.


Poem of the Week, by Linda Hogan

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

Someone once asked me to describe a place that would feel perfectly safe. The feeling of being held inside a fallen hollow tree next to a river on a summer day –warm, safe, almost asleep–instantly came to me.

This is the same feeling that comes with my oldest memory, of being born. Traveling in warmth down a kind of river, soft metal touching down and lifting off my head (they used forceps to pull me out). Light at the end. A feeling which couldn’t have been in words but which was entirely clear: Here we go again. A sense of inevitability, and acceptance of whatever would come.

To Be Held, by Linda Hogan

To be held
by the light
was what I wanted,
to be a tree drinking the rain,
no longer parched in this hot land.
To be roots in a tunnel growing
but also to be sheltering the inborn leaves
and the green slide of mineral
down the immense distances
into infinite comfort
and the land here, only clay,
still contains and consumes
the thirsty need
the way a tree always shelters the unborn life
waiting for the healing
after the storm
which has been our life.

For more information about Linda Hogan, please visit her website.

Words by Winter: my new podcast

Poem of the Week, by Ron Koertge

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

How to survive the next meeting you don’t want to be in: Focus on the famished, clawed creature that just now slunk into the room and is now crawling over everyone’s feet in turn. Does anyone else notice? They do not!

Where is the creature now? The only way to know is to pay close attention to body language. An upper lip will twitch, a butt will shift on its chair, fingers will suddenly drum.

Meanwhile, the endless droner drones on and on, no one brave enough to interrupt. Only the clawed creature can finally stop the madness. But when? When will sweet release come?

This is how I get through meetings. It’s also why I so love Ron Koertge’s funny, subversive, turn-things-inside-out world-of-imagination poems.

The Search Party, by Ron Koertge

It’s hopeless. Maureen and I broke up
again. While the party goes on
without me, I’m sulking in the kitchen

eating all the chips and guacamole
when the host’s daughter comes in.

Nora opens the door to the refrigerator.
There’s a stuffed bear leaning on the cottage

She says, “That’s Robert Falcon Scott,
the explorer. He needs medical attention

She looks at me. “Can I trust you to wait
right here while I go for the huskies?”

Now I cannot leave my post. Not to dance,
not to make a beer run. Not even if someone
comes in to say she likes my new shirt.

Nora returns with two stuffed dogs. The door
to Antarctica opens.

Nora cradles the bear. She tries to feed it
a Cheeto. “Hold on, Robert. Help
is on the way.”

To me, she says, “Harness the dogs.
We have to move fast.”

It’s starting to snow. My hands are freezing
as I untangle the tow lines.

For more information about Ron Koertge, please click here.

Words by Winter: my new podcast