Poets do the Colonnade

I just returned home from a dinner with great people as well as great poets. In attendance, at what I hope to be the first of many, were Rupert Fike, Collin Kelley, Karen Head, Christine Swint, Julie Bloemeke, Chelsea Rathburn, Cleo Creech, and “little” ole me.

The food was great, but the conversation was even better. I was thrilled to finally meet Christine Swint and Julie Bloemeke. I have only had the pleasure of chatting with them via Facebook. Hopefully, I didn’t give them too big of a dose of Dustin– Christine was across from me during dinner and Julie was to my right. It was great to see Karen, Chelsea, and Rupert as I haven’t seem them in a while. Well, Collin and Cleo, I see your mugs each month for the AQLF meetings. (See the two of you tomorrow!)

I would love for each poet from the dinner to post one of your own poems in a comment to this post. Please.

9 responses to “Poets do the Colonnade

  1. I swoon, I swoon! It was lovely to be among like souls, and the dose of Dustin was spot on! I will send a poem your way soon….

  2. Martha Pulls a Double

    Martha’s working a double,
    Saturday lunch and dinner,
    but she’s looking damn good,
    hair still Aquanetted, locked
    in place from the morning
    visit to the beauty parlor.
    Her hair soft burnished blond
    like a fresh dinner roll,
    lips a bright gash, the red
    of hot steamed lobster.
    Her nails shiny fresh,
    the clear hard soft pink
    of empty shrimp shells.

    She’ll go home tonight,
    with sore feet and a
    pocket full of ones and fives
    to her little empty house.
    This is the home she shared
    with her husband now passed
    some seven years, the home
    where she raised six children.
    She’ll watch TV, smoke a joint
    drink her boxed white wine.
    then go to bed early, for
    Sundays she works lunch —
    good money with the church crowd.

  3. Here’s a poem I thought would be good to share, since it fits with the theme of Southern Poets.

    If Ophelia were from Georgia

    It might have happened like this,
    that she does a drunken electric slide
    down the hill till she reaches
    the creek’s edge, wedges a sneaker
    into a dogwood’s vee,
    hoists herself onto a limb.
    Filches buds to weave a garland,
    scoots across knotted bark,
    cracks off twigs as she seesaws
    toward the water.

    I swear, that man’s a dog, she hums and tries to pin down
    her reflection in eddies
    dark from silt and rain.
    Who the hell is he to tell me
    to straighten up?

    And then the branch snaps ¬–
    she drops into the creek.

    Serene in the whirlpool,
    gazing at a hazy sky,
    she sings herself to sleep.
    White petals snow
    on a bed of pine needles
    the day they find her body.

  4. Better To Travel

    The black umbrella
    bit my hand today,
    cheap, angry metal
    and plastic offering
    travel tips:
    Take me someplace
    where it rains.

  5. this is so new I almost hesitate to let it out, but here we are…Julie E. Bloemeke


    Wrapped against winter,
    your grandmother’s made quilts
    heavy over us, the dreams
    come like no other.

    You wake me slowly, soft kiss,
    and I roll into your firm embrace
    sigh at the wonder, your limbs,
    your bones, your beating heart, your
    there. Eyes closed, I mumble the dream
    through smiling: I was dancing

    I was running, arms outstretched,
    field and sky farther than my eyes.
    There was everyone, and calico,
    and women whispering
    as they slipped covered dishes
    under bedpillows to keep them warm.

    The clouds came, dark, swirling,
    and rain, but nothing stopped. Still
    I ran, arms as wings. You were
    laughing, stretched in the grass, smiling
    a smile that 15 years together I
    had never seen. I was joy for you, one
    flash of sad, of feeling as
    if I could not know.

    I flew on, flew and wished
    my legs younger, strong again,
    that it did not ache to run them.
    Behind the barn, sun now, I fell
    into hay, said, remember, to myself
    remember this joy without gates
    this place not able to be crafted into words

    where joy is joy and the brokenness
    of everyday was gone. Remember this
    gold, this boundaryless sky, that you flew
    until you dropped.

    Someone was coming—who?–
    such peace my heart
    and the sun so bright
    I cannot see which face—

    and I wake, back to this heavy earth,
    where we have to work to dance,
    where fetters keep us because
    we make them, where we squint through
    the cobwebs at the light and wonder
    if it is possible. But I wake,

    wake to your arms, your warmth,
    you listening to my ancient voice,
    dry but whirling,
    and you touch me and hear:
    joy, joy, joy, such joy

    and when I do open my eyes,
    I am facing the window, leaves
    golden with autumn, birds

    perched on a branch, bare,
    full of song.

  6. Published in the first issue of LIMP WRIST:


    I’m irritated by those people who
    overuse the word Christian when using
    it to describe themselves—
    the same ones who spell Jesus H-A-T-E.

    Home from church she’s on the phone;
    quickly, she moves from praying
    for others to talking about them.
    Her phone’s hot like a whore’s
    bed on half off day.
    I wonder which uses her mouth more,
    which one sins more, my aunt or a whore.

    He’s gay; she’s better than that.
    Her sin smells sweeter than his.
    The Christmas card she mailed was
    addressed only to her nephew
    leaving of the name of his boyfriend
    of six years. The Christmas card he sent
    back left off his uncle’s name.
    She didn’t get his statement;
    she prayed over that card.

    She’s on the phone talking
    about her Christmas card ordeal.
    Not once does she use the words
    gay or, heaven forbid, boyfriend.
    That’s why she takes so long
    to tell her pain, her strife, her story.
    She’s doing the tango around the issue
    even though no one taught her the tango—
    it’s a sin to dance that close.

    If she can’t handle those words
    she’d shit a brick if she had to say
    the name of the shot I drank last weekend.
    Cowboy cocksucker,
    say it auntie.

    She’ll pray for him tonight
    and for me I’m sure;
    she knows my truth but makes
    it her own shameful secret,
    makes a martyr of herself this way,
    But I hate to tell her the world already knows,
    and the sign on the martyr office
    reads try again later.
    I know she prays to a God
    who has favorites,
    loves some more than others,
    He’s definitely not the God I
    learned about as a child.
    While she’s on her knees
    praying to him I want to smile,
    walk away, and say—
    Kiss this.

  7. This is from my recent collection, My Paris Year. Reading though it, I'm put in mind of the idea that Southern things/places/ideas/culture is never far from my mind…even in Paris!

    On Finding Southern Poetry in Paris

    Since my friend is so much taller,
    I focus on the lower shelves,
    the poetry section just a cramped corner,
    a surprise since Shakespeare & Co.
    is renowned for its writers, so many
    of them poets. I had expected more
    than the customary single column.

    As always, I look for Southern poetry.
    In the M’s I scan for Maddox, Everette,
    hope to find his rare Songbook.
    Instead, I discover a thin volume from Miller
    a bit apropos when I remember that Paris
    is also a city in Texas, and devoutly Catholic
    Vassar would have probably liked the view
    of Notre Dame framed by Modernist books
    stacked either side of the shop entrance.

    For 3 Euro, I get the famous
    ex libris inside the faded front cover.
    By a fountain, I wait for friends to make
    final purchases before dinner,
    scratch a quick note home
    to say, despite French penchants,
    “I’m still right with my raising.”
    I know that months later,
    if I can sleep deeply enough,
    my dreams will bring me back here.

  8. Thanks for hosting these, Dustin – looking fw’d to Agave, and seeing who gets le worm!

    On the Occasion of Dinner
    with Friends at the Colonnade

    Margaret Cho says she wants her last meal
    to be fried chicken with macaroni and cheese,
    which means she would like eating here
    where I sometimes sat with my mother
    hearing, once again, her tales of picking cotton
    in Elbert County, the long bag down scratchy rows,
    Aunt Jeanette, a little ”tight,” adding details
    while my sister and I groaned, eye-rolled.

    Today though, I’m with equals, buzzed peers,
    and sure we’re loud, the words, oral sex,
    escaping our table, turning the head of a teen girl
    who is prisoner at her own family table,
    a teen girl who tries to make sense of us,
    sizing us up as possible escape vehicle.
    But we’re not. We’re gossips, unknowables,
    and I’m having one of my aunt’s Bloody Marys,
    toasting hardscrabble women who loved this room
    where someone would feed them, call them, Hon.

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