Saturday Apr 21

KaiteHillenbrand Ever since I read The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong, I’ve had a deeper understanding of ritual and meditation’s role in a fulfilling life. I already loved certain rituals, like going to the woods and breathing through Chi Gung routines. I’m constantly striving to find a balance in my life: part for hard work that will keep my brain feeling useful; part for goofing and playing and embracing the wonder of mystery like a child; part for exercise and stillness, to keep my brain and body light; and all around for love. I work toward this balance to find joy in life – to feel useful and full of love and happy. I haven’t always known how to make it work, but I’ve nearly always been convinced it’s possible.

I’ve managed to make it happen, too – not all the time, and every change requires an adjustment to the entire balance. Not only that, but changes in my life work change in other people’s lives, and it radiates out. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again because it’s true and because we miss seeing it sometimes: we are all so interconnected. Life kind of is, well, one big trapeze; we’re constantly adjusting, finding the balance, making it work, moving on to a new trick; trusting others to help and adjust with us. So I was thrilled – thrilled – when I found out that one of our poets this month flies on the trapeze. For real. For meditation. For stress relief. I’m not saying we should all literally fly, but we should fly. We should all fly.

And that leads me to Associate Editor Julie Brooks Barbour’s lead poet this month. Julie brings us a truly fascinating interview and stunning poetry by Tim Mayo. Ms Barbour writes:

The physical and spiritual merge in these poems through narratives as different as the act of trapezing or the washing of feet. I found these poems as meditative as the movements of their subjects. In his interview, Tim Mayo speaks further about these poems in a discussion of the mind and body and the issue of surrender, as well the subject of truth in poetry.

Trapeze! Real-life trapeze in the country!

We also have the privilege of publishing poetry by Michael Miller this month. I love the kind of Mayberry tone of these poems, the retrospection and introspection, the lens of adulthood understanding keeping childhood activities at a distance but also giving them focus and clarity, keeping them alive. One of the best parts of being a kid is the possibility inherent in so many things. These poems capture that mystery sublimely, and they remind me of the also sublime freedom and excitement of that mystery. Better yet, these poems remind me that that’s something we don’t have to lose.

Associate Editor Julie Brooks Barbour brings us more stunning work this month, too. She writes:

Susan Cohen’s poems meditate on the marks we make on this world, either through our belongings or our bodies.   As we move through the world, we leave fragments of ourselves, either by giving away small objects that we own or leaving the oils of our skin on piano keys. These poems take on us on a journey while they chronicle what we leave behind.

In this poem by William Repass, one word merges into the next, playing upon its neighbor to create a moment given in one breath, a moment intense with loss, the color blue gradually pulsing red and leaving us breathless.

Associate Editor JP Reese has wonderful work from two great poets to share with us. Ms Reese writes:

There must be something in the water in North Carolina that makes for great poets. Joe Mills’ poems are gentle hymns to everyday life. His work is empathetic and genuine, with a twist. These three poems demonstrate the poet’s intuitive knowledge of and appreciation for the human condition, in all its complexity and flawed beauty. Read these poems and enjoy the poet’s take on “this life, so tiring and wonderful…”

We all have our Proustian madeleine. Cindy Veach’s poem “Birthmark Bowl,” equates simple kitchen implements with the past as they stir memories of the many people the speaker has been and known. A GladWare bowl evokes thoughts of a long vanished grandmother; we meet a first husband in a stolen, dented colander. The speaker’s children are grown and gone, but she “still remember[s] how to work like this—one-handed, one hip jutting out forming the perfect place for a cranky kid to settle.” In “I Kill Spiders,” the speaker is more than just an arachnophobe; she understands the fruitlessness in any attempt to “change the order of things,” yet she persists in a kind of wistful hopefulness that perhaps her actions have meaning. These two poems offer readers far more than just the sum of their parts.

Editor-At-Large Alvis Minor brings us wonderful work this month, of which Alvis writes:

Reading these poems by Marilyn Kallet is an invigorating experience, mostly because she writes with a potent lyricism that is among the most flexible I’ve encountered. She leaps from hilarious wit to passion to woeful regret to a sort of Modernist nostalgia with surprising ease, taking her reader on a wild ride that could be, in less competent hands, quite jarring. In “Lucky River,” for example, we start in familiar territory, a playful nostalgia that quickly turns dark. Where we end feels a bit melancholy at first, until the last few lines start to sink in. I’ll admit it – I laughed out loud. “Losing It” takes us through all the emotional ups and downs of (I’m not kidding here) losing a book by David Sedaris. Only a few poets really succeed at being funny in poetry. Even fewer can mention Dante, Orpheus, and Catullus without looking like they’re trying too hard. A poet who can do both without compromising her powerful voice is a rare gift.

Come on in, fly trapeze with us! Guaranteed to force your entire concentration on something other than whatever else it is you’re thinking of. Personally, I don’t like the feeling of free-fall, so I’m not a jumper or diver. But trapeze? I’d totally try that.