Sunday, March 29, 2015

BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of. (Poetry Edition)

A note about BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.:

These are not, in any way, meant to be comprehensive reviews. They are intended to acknowledge that I have read the book, and give my honest core impressions.

If a real review is what you wish, there are many wonderful book blogs available, and I have provided some tools to find them under the tab marked "Useful Stuff."

Spoon River Poetry Review 39.2 (Winter 2014) Journal

I look forward to receiving this journal twice a year, but this time around I had the added pleasure of actually having one of my poems included in its pages.

Those of you who write know that the costs of chasing publication can add up quickly. And for someone on a limited budget, it's always a joy when I'm able to realize a bit of my goal.

The link above will lead to this issue while it is current. If you would like to buy the issue or subscribe to the Journal itself, click {here}.

This poem, by Kevin McLellan, reminded me of the word games I used to love to play when I was younger.


last and last


Could there be truer words than these?

The First Rule of Poetry
- Jose A. Alcantara

You have been given a gift
a curse, a knife under the ribs.
You have been given a word
a vision, the toll of a distant bell.
You have been given the overheard conversation
the fox sleeping atop a bale of hay
the suicide in the alley.
You have been given the dew drops
pendulant on the ti of every burning blade of grass.
You have been given the rape
the incinerated village
the little girl in pink shoes skipping as she sings.
You have been given the robin flying against the glass
the shadow of a leaf on the wood of the boardwalk
the hungry raven's cry.
You have been struck with the cold cudgel of grace.
Now get out of the way.

Dog Songs (ebook) - Mary Oliver

A must for anyone who has ever loved a dog.

This collection is not the best of Ms Oliver's poetry, but I found myself tearing up a couple of times at revived memories.


I have a bed, my very own.
It’s just my size.
And sometimes I like to sleep alone
with dreams inside my eyes.

But sometimes dreams are dark and wild and creepy
and I wake and am afraid, though I don’t know why.
But I’m no longer sleepy
and too slowly the hours go by.

So I climb on the bed where the light of the moon
is shining on your face
and I know it will be morning soon.

Everybody needs a safe place.


I had a dog
who loved flowers.
Briskly she went
through the fields,

yet paused
for the honeysuckle
or the rose,
her dark head

and her wet nose
the face
of every one

with its petals
of silk,
with its fragrance

into the air
where the bees,
their bodies
heavy with pollen,

and easily
she adored
every blossom,

not in the serious,
careful way
that we choose
this blossom or that blossom—

the way we praise or don’t praise—
the way we love
or don’t love—
but the way

we long to be—
that happy
in the heaven of earth—
that wild, that loving.


He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

“Tell me you love me,” he says.

“Tell me again.”

Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.


What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go

and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit, myself

thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up
into my face. As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.


  1. Replies
    1. Oh! I can't believe my brain sometimes. I guess I expected people to read my mind!

      The poem is titled "Depression," (by J.F. Spillane). It might even have been good to include it in this post, but I am so used to promoting other people's work, it never occurred to me. I think I should take another look at this post and do a bit of a rework.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I think you should include it in this post. Or another, all for itself!