Friday Jul 21

JudyKronenfeld-PoetryJudy Kronenfeld has published two books and two chapbooks of poetry, as well as a critical-historical study of Shakespeare (KING LEAR and the Naked Truth, Duke U.P., 1998). Her most recent collection of poems, Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, won the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize and was published by Litchfield Review Press in 2008.  Her poems, as well as the occasional short story and personal essay have appeared in numerous print and online journals including Calyx, Cimarron Review, American Poetry Journal, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Natural Bridge, Hiram Poetry Review, Passager, Poetry InternationalStirring, The Women’s Review of Books and The Pedestal, as well as in a dozen anthologies or text books—most recently Love over 60: An Anthology of Women's Poems (Mayapple Press, 2010). She currently has poems forthcoming in Innisfree, Fox Chase Review, Stirring and Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, among others, and an essay forthcoming in the 2011 edition of Under the Sun; her new poetry manuscript (working title Shimmer) is almost, almost ready. See her website for more information about her and her work.

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                  Beyond Request
 
 
                  One of the bed pillows—
                  thin down—
                  propped upright behind her head
                  leans over, soft as
                  snow on snow, and kisses
                  her waist, as she bends forward to lift
                  her novel from the dresser,
 
                  and she thinks
                  in the second
                  her eyes close
                  he’s removed a hand
                  from his mystery
                  to rest on her lower spine.
                  It feels anointed
                  by the free gift
                  of that grace.
 
                  But the fingers of both
                  his hands still grip
                  the pages
                  as she straightens up carefully
                 with her book
                 against —oh
                 the doubled pillow.
 
                 How naked
                 her stiffened back
                 now, in her flannel gown.
 
 
 
Kwik-Vu 2025
 
 
The approach to the menu is covered with a trellis-like structure of black vinyl, over which is stretched a black, gauzy material so that you drive slowly under an extended awning. The menu itself is draped in black bunting, arranged into large drooping bows on each upper corner. You hit the brake and roll down your window. Your empty soul feels like a stomach turned inside out. Subdued sconces light up, framing the choices in wing-shapes, and an unctuous voice intones: WELCOME.  PLEASE MAKE YOUR SELECTION.  You punch in the maximum number. YOU HAVE CHOSEN THREE MINUTES. IF THIS IS CORRECT, PLEASE PRESS 1. He was your neighbor and your best friend, felled so suddenly, slumped over his riding lawnmower. You press 1. The framing shape becomes a harp and again the deep voice resounds: PLEASE MAKE YOUR MUSIC SELECTION AND THEN DRIVE FORWARD SLOWLY. In addition to When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, My Way, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, and Pan de Vida, the offerings include “wailing booth,” “sutra chanting,” and I Will Lift Up My Eyes Unto the Mountain (Heb.), which you, forced to choose, choose, though you would prefer silence. But perhaps better to have something even louder to drown out the sound of gears crunching as the curtains part—as if for a puppet theater—and the half-opened rattling casket careens into view on the conveyor, like a car in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. There’s a high-pitched screak as metal arms extend and tilt the casket toward you, so that you can see the deceased’s gray-green face, pinned to the satin by collar, shirt and jacket, but flopping forward a little. Thirty seconds is enough; you try putting the car in reverse, and pressing ABORT, but the casket will not tilt back onto the conveyer and glide behind the drop of painted clouds. The deceased’s right eyelid has come unglued, and a brown liquid trickles from his mouth. You bury your head in your hands on the steering wheel. Finally, you hear the scraping gears again and look up to see the dusty velveteen curtains swish closed. You pull up to the gate and insert your credit card in the machine. It pops out a logo sticker—a dripping eye on a heart under which appears the message: I have just viewed the body of Ralph E. Jones, deceased August 12. Family and friends will be received until August 17.
 
 
 
After desolation,
 
 
the air quivers again
and swoops, scintillates
glinting like flashes
from a spinning
prayer wheel
 
and the neck stretches up
for the rush in it, the fluster,
the flare—
 
The wandering mind
hangs its hat on the hushed
notes studding
the telephone wires, settled
like folded black umbrellas
 
until one, then two, four,
grapple straight up
an air wall—oh grand plans—
and ripple away—
distances—
 
and the gaze ascends, as if
through the crystalline
spheres, to where
in the high cloudless sky
black specks like bits
of burnt paper—like the remnants
of a life’s complexities swept
from a fire—rise and circle,
calmly weave and float.
 
 
 
Avis Poetica
 
No twitter in the tree directly outside the window through which I gaze—no bluebird, blackbird, warbler, thrush.
 
I make up an inconclusive crow: clumsy, lumbering, flailing off the ground, too big for its landing gear, landing skittishly, like a small plane, brakes on, ailerons up, up in the air again, down, wheels bouncing.
 
I key in a rambunctious jay: cocky, squawking, in my face, growling, whistling, chattering, pretending to be a hawk.
 
I rattle the keys, dreaming up a fractious cubist bird, beak opened on one plane, scrawny toes curled on another, tail feathers fanned into a third. Eyecorner flicker. Wait. Something has pushed off from a rebounding twig of the Japanese plum, with a knifetoss of glittering wings.


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Editor's Note: Without the kindess and patience of Judy Kronenfeld, I would not have survived my undergraduate education, I would not have gone on to WVU to graduate school, and I would not have started Connotation Press. My deepest and most sincere gratitude goes out to Professor Kronenfeld, a brilliant poet and educator. ~Ken Robidoux