Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nerve Cowboy Spring Issue #29

Yes, this issue was delivered late but it was worth the wait! There are some edgy poems and some powerful ones—especially by Burn Thompson. The artwork inside is always paired with just the right poems and I am happy to share a small sample with you:

By James Valvis

My daughter asks me for a snack.
She wants chocolate chip cookies.
It’s after lunch, before dinner, so I say no,
but I can see the hurt sting her eyes,
a flash of tears that lately come on
suddenly like all her other emotions.
She’s hungry. She’s always hungry.
This past year she’s put on weight.
Her belly sticks out, her legs are flabby.
Her cheek dimple has smoothed over.
It’s embarrassing, she says, her new shirt
too tight, and as I ponder if she’ll need
a training bra at nine years old,
she wonders if boys will ever like her.
At dinner most nights she eats like me,
a heavyset man with a big appetite.
Dishing it out, I pause mid-spoonful
and wonder if I’m adding too much.
I remember how my parents, to keep
my sister from eating, chained the fridge
around the handles and padlocked it.
She still topped 400 before stapling
her stomach and spending the next year
eating nothing but thin mashed potatoes.
I tell my daughter to come sit on my lap.
She does and her weight is suffocating.
It was barely days ago, practically hours,
that I bounced her around on my shoulders
and flung her in the air like a tennis ball.
Now she’s nearly too big to fit on my lap.
What a harsh job parenting is sometimes.
Sorry, kid, I tell her in my mind.
No cookies for you this afternoon.
I’ve nothing sweeter to offer than a hug.

My heart goes out to the father and the daughter in this poem. The heartbreak of the father watching the pounds accumulate along with the realization that he may be contributing through snacks or extra helpings at dinner is palpable. The end shows that the father offers instead of sweets, love through a hug, and brings kindness in the closing of the poem. I’m left with a sense of hope that the father will do what is best in the kindest of ways to help his daughter become healthier, it is a touching poem.

In Alaska And Homeless
By Burn Thompson

Coming here all my poetry lost
and most all else- missed my poems most as if struggling up
mountain crests- missed so much the story a long poem
of mine tells. Spent a year in a homeless shelter-
never missed the rest. My past calling, I heard faint church bells
ringing- didn’t answer. In a corner Tlingits-

beads stringing. Moved out. Camping on the city fringe,
my things people stole. Still there’s kindness-
given a snowsuit with new tags. Sleeping bag gone, my tarp
around me I roll. I sleep cold- lose weight-
see my coat on me sag. Without paper walked streets composing
lines of verse. For my memory’s sake, I keep my lines terse.

This is one of two poems Mr. Thompson wrote about being homeless and I picked this one because despite the hardships he is still composing and creating verses. The will of survival and the will to create are strong in his lines above and incredibly moving to me.

A Flight Attendant’s Lament
By Lori Jakiela

They told me I was going to Paris
so why am I stuck in Atlanta, Georgia
in a tiki hut on Bobbie Brown Boulevard
eating crab legs out of a dented bucket?
A guy in a blue Hawaiian shirt
loads the jukebox with a $20
and plays Jimmy Buffett’s “Why Don’t We
Get Drunk and Screw”
over and over and over
then sends me a beer with a note that says, “Smile.”
I raise the beer to say thanks, hold a crab leg up
in a salute, then ask the bartender for a pen.
Somewhere there’s an ocean.
Somewhere beauty’s waiting.
On the note, I write back,
“I am smiling.
Mona Lisa.”

I like the sass of this poet, and I think it’s a nice change of pace from the previous two for today’s feature. This poet dead-pans her experience as a flight attendant stuck in Atlanta (and I, for one, hate being stuck in Atlanta’s airport, though Atlanta itself is nice), so I could not help including it in this sample. The ending is funny and clever, thank you, Lori Jakiela.

If you enjoyed this sample and would like to learn more about Nerve Cowboy and/or find out about subscribing, visit their website below:

Thanks always for reading, please click in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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