The Poet’s Eye: Winter ’10

The Poet’s Eye: Winter ’10

In our Winter ’10 edition, THE POET’S EYE features Heather Davis, Susan Eisenberg and Renny Golden;
from Poetry Co-Editor Judith Arcana.

From Armenia By Heather Davis

Across the table, her face is a small animal
bunched as if to spring,
eyes wide only when she speaks of home
in the mountains of Erevan.
If it weren’t for the children,
she would never leave those mountains,
even with the skirmishes at the border,
the shortages. She’s been hiding
her brother for a year,
in an apartment far from town.
Winter, with its darkness, is
the most difficult time, so easy
for the government to snatch
young men by the metro,
then ship them to the front
where they will pay for their gender
again and again. Having come all this way
with a report from the field,
on her first trip abroad, she
comments on the extravagance
of fluorescent lights at midday.
In the city, she says, we get one hour
of electricity in twenty-four.
Her face, when she laughs, is a free thing.
Her daughter, who is six, has asked
for the dress of a queen, a dress
from Washington, D.C. where,
Zara tells us, people are so friendly,
saying hi, asking how are you,
though they do not always mean it.

Heather Lynne Davis is the author of “The Lost Tribe of Us,” which won the 2007 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. For the past 16 years she has worked in international health and development, meeting amazing women from every part of the globe. She also writes a blog about post-city life in rural small town America. “From Armenia” first appeared in Women’s Studies Quarterly: Volume 35, Number 3 & 4, Fall/Winter 2007.

©Christine Peloquin; “Placid”

Partner #3 By Susan Eisenberg

She smelled dynamite on his shirt;
men on the crew noticed
nothing peculiar.
She moved cautiously, lit
no matches. When she turned him down
for an after-work drink she heard the fuse

ignite. He stopped
calling her by name, just Waitress!
and gave his coffee order in strict
detail Bagel toasted Not grilled
Orange juice With ice
Whenever an elevator door closed leaving them
alone for a caged ride he recounted
hunting stories: deer drenched in blood. Still
like his too-conscious politeness or his
eerily frozen smile these were hardly
sufficient evidence — he a journeyman, she
an apprentice — for complaining out of place.

The afternoon he threatened death
by strangulation
for the nurse
and the medical director’s wife
reciting their crimes (so like her own) as he
stared into her face, the whole while throwing
retrieving, throwing, retrieving, throwing
an open knifeblade against a wooden ladder,
staring, staring into her face
as he threw the open knife that day

she risked requesting a transfer.

Susan Eisenberg is the author of “We’ll Call You If We Need You: Experiences of Women Working Construction,” a New York Times Notable Book, and the poetry collections, “Blind Spot” and “Pioneering.” She entered union construction in 1978 and is a licensed master electrician. As a Resident Artist and Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, she focuses on projects that address patient-centered medical care and employment equity through two touring exhibits: the photographs and poems of “Perpetual Care,” and the mixed media installation, “On Equal Terms.”

©Christine Peloquin; “StartInside”

Bring in the Clowns: Kip Tiernan, Founder of Rosie’s Place* by Renny Golden

Their hands are stretched out but not for bread
they are past charity, they want me to hear their names
Adrienne Rich

This is your journey the voice said:
take nothing but insolence and a wild,
raspy, Talulah Bankhead laugh.

Step here, beneath the bridge’s stone roof;
five men circle a bonfire, their palms press
gold handprints on dark silk air.

No, come over here away from the fire where
women plump filthy blankets over cardboard mattresses.
Rose is singing, white hair tangled,

she wants angels to cut in harmony
but they scold her. Shad-up, she says.
Margaret swigs Wild Turkey, laughs.

Helen is rocking and waving from a Merry-Go-Round
that will not slow down. Come closer, the voice
murmurs, take Margaret’s stained hand.

When she smiles, she lights a Camel,
passes the pack, and sings along with Rose.
Friendship here isn’t hard, and it isn’t cheap.

The voice, your voice, is theatrical.
So you play jazz. Rage against comfort,
rattling a skate key against a silver crucifix.

Joker and prophet, playing
“Bring in the Clowns” and thundering at us:
what’ll ya give your life for, kid?

*Rosie’s Place is the first shelter for homeless women in Boston.

©Christine Peloquin; “And Other Poems”

Troubling the Waters By Renny Golden

for Joan Chittister and the Erie Benedictines Who Tell the Pope No

All this supplication, beggar bowls well kept.
Lamps of the foolish and wise
lit century after heretical century.

So many fires for the God of our Fathers.
We who could kneel, spared the flames.
At the edge of howling crowds, Sophia weeps.

All the luminosity of white things: altar linen,
albs, washed, starched for sacred navigators.
Our boats on the shore beached season after season.

So much wreckage: the sea journeys to reach
the other side. We put out small boats,
row and row beneath moon and stars.

Our compass smashed against rock.
The frail crafts, Rules of Navigation, never our own.
So many turned back. So many drowned.

Their washed up bones in monastery cemeteries
still ask impertinent questions.
The shore always too far.

Until now, in the Benedictine tradition of Brendan,
Joan sets her currach rocking in the waters.
The Benedictines, trembling, do not call her back.

They do not call her back.

Renny Golden’s book of poetry, “The Hour of the Furnaces” was nominated for a National Book Award in 2000. Her poetry book, “Raising the Bones” will be published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2010. Golden’s most recent book, “War on the Family: Imprisoned Mothers and the Families They Leave Behind,” (NY: Routledge), 2005, was a Finalist for the C Wright Mills Award. Her poetry has been published in: “International Quarterly,” “The American Voice,” “Literary Review,” “Irish American Poetry from the 18th Century to the Present,” ed. Daniel Tobin (Notre Dame Press), and elsewhere.