Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Theresa Boyar's Kitchen Witch

Isn’t that a lovely eye-catching title for a chapbook, Kitchen Witch? I was able to purchase this wonderful collection from Dancing Girl Press, copyrighted 2007. Below I have included a link to Theresa Boyar’s site, which also includes a link to a wonderful interview about this collection by Rock Salt Plum so you can find out more about Theresa Boyar as a poet and how she produced these wonderful poems.

The entire collection is a fun read, there is humor, there is the sense of longing for special moments to last longer, and even the banality of everyday chores becomes interesting under Boyar’s wit.

With permission from Theresa Boyar I am able to post the following poem, originally published in 42opus:

“What I’m Here For”

Today, it’s the rise,
and billow of sheets
on the clothesline, the necessary
rectangles snapped, bleached
linen fixed with a pin.
It’s jam on every kitchen
Washcloth and broom-resistant
Crumbs that multiply across the floor.
It’s the newspaper I pick up
thinking only to read the letters
to the editor, and set back down
two hours later, my fingers
dusty as if I’ve read the walls
of mines. It’s dishes
that breed disease in a backed-up sink,
it’s an empty mailbox, a phone
call that he’ll be late from work,
a discussion with the neighbor
about how my weeds are infiltrating
her flowerbeds. I can’t allow it
to continue. It’s dinner that arrives
in a flat box, delivered by a woman
who looks over my shoulder
and sees the unmade beds
like a cankered tongue
in the mouth of this house.
It’s the sending off
To the bathroom with toothbrushes,
the reading of a bedtime story and then
just one more, and the walk to the bedroom
to bunkbeds that are still sheetless. It’s traipsing
to the clotheslines in the dark, damp
weeds beneath my feet, and the memory
in sunlight, handling wet sheets,
the promise of empty space
shaking out before me
in wide open windows.

This poem is one of my favorites because it not only describes real life but the humor of all the little things that can drive us (or at least me) crazy. I like the neighbor’s comments about the infiltrating weeds, the unmade beds in full view of a stranger whose opinion shouldn’t matter if they were to voice anything about unmade beds… Everything that makes up a day in the life of a family is laid out in all its unglamorous chaos which is refreshing in a world of well-kempt poems that I read often throughout the week. Sometimes it is nice to read about the real world from a poet who knows how to present it tongue-in-cheek and here is a perfect example.

Another poem I enjoyed which was also won the Penny Jar Prize from Half Drunk Muse is:

“Our Kitchen of Perpetual Failure”

Nothing here delivers.
We tuck in ribs, a long
empurpled rack soaked
in honey and ginger.
It comes out later, minus
the promised aroma,
the bubbling dark glaze.
We suspect a revolution.

On shelf paper turned desert
with flour spilled from flopped
almond scones, the canned goods
cluster toward revellion.
Crack open the cupboards
and they’re stacked in glimmering
innocence, eyeless totems amid
teeming armies of rice and pasta.

We do our best to ignore them
and accept invitations to other kitchens
where careless children pour tall glasses
of Kool-Aid and the wallpaper screams
of productivity. Swelled
grapes, bursting melons, a bounty
of hard, crayon-bright fruit
that multiplies into the corners.

Back home, our kitchen echoes
back each tap of our wooden spoon.
We double-check measurements,
read everything twice, and still
the custards never set, the souffl├ęs
always fall. The salmon emerges
pink and shriveled and we
consider giving up altogether.

We eat in silence over our plates
each night, the shiny utensils
stretched between us.

It’s not just me, you
see it too, the way they look
more and more like barbed wire.

Yessir, this poem reminds me of my own kitchen failures, how about you? What I love is that the food in the kitchen is crying “mutiny” during all attempts at perfecting a recipe. Also, the comparison of other kitchens that don’t seem to give their families any trouble just makes the frustration in this poem more palpable. I especially love the very last stanza where the utensils are likened to barbed wire. Don’t you just love Mrs. Boyar’s way of describing an every day frustration? This one I also find humorous because you can always laugh afterwards at failure and I found myself laughing after this poem thinking of my own kitchen disasters. I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I do.

Not every poem in this collection is about housework, children, and neighbors, but those are the poems I enjoyed most while reading them. There are poems about being an artist in a gallery, of fanciful notions, of humbling lives lived in hardship. It is a wonderful collection all around that I am sure you will enjoy as well. This chapbook is available at Dancing Girl Press or from the author herself at her site linked below:

http://theresaboyar.com/

Many thanks to Theresa Boyar for allowing me to post these poems and many thanks to all of you for reading!

Please stop by tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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