Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Measure of Small Gratitudes by Ann Menebroker

Ann Menebroker’s The Measure of Small Gratitudes is published by Kamini Press and is a smart collection of poems encompassing the every-day yet memorable moments of life in a gentle and grand-sweeping gesture. Reading these poems makes me feel like I am being shown a photo album and being told the stories behind the photos. Ann Menebroker has published over twenty collections of poems and has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and she is part of a documentary based on poets in Sacramento tilted I Began To Speak. Ms. Minebroker’s most recent collection from Kamini Press is a pleasure to read, so much so that I think I’d like to share each and every poem but cannot so here are a few for you to savor:

For Joe DiMaggio

for a long time baseball has been a boy’s
dream and spring, his time to be kissed awake
because the grass smells good, is tall enough
to cut down, his mitt oiled and fits him
like a pattern of his leanest need
something he starves for, but the regulators
for a busy life tell him the game’s too slow
the heroes are no longer on the mound, at bases
or in the field. you could build a small village
by the top of the ninth inning, and extra
innings are torture. but he still believes
in the game. he still believes in the pitcher’s
magic, the hitter’s power, the catcher’s technique.
the umpire’s call. in his dream it’s the seventh
inning and the crowd knows all the words to the song.
the bat boy is so full of joy he trips over home plate.

I love poems about baseball, I love the game even though I don’t follow it closely, it just reminds me of summer and good times with friends and family. In this poem, I love that Ms. Menebroker reveals the nostalgia of a young man’s heart despite the changing times and pace of the world around him. The game is so loved that even the bat boy trips for joy over the home plate at the end of the poem, lovely.

What Doesn’t Fit Here

i’m old style, honey
wax paper wrapped sandwiches
and odd smelling lunch boxes
with handles, a thermos
with o.j. and gin, a banged-up
old portable radio once belonging
to an aunt of mine, playing songs
from the thirties and me, lighting
a cigarette from the matchbox
my mom got from “windows on the world”
when she flew to new york, alone
telling her children we didn’t spend
much time with her, had dinner
at the world trade center and got
a little drunk at age seventy-nine.

This poem tugs at my own nostalgia for old lunch boxes and my own love of old-fashioned songs. At the end of the poem you realize that the world trade center has been brought up as something to have nostalgia for, that the poem encompasses not only the personal memories of the poet but now we also pine for the old days when the world trade center was still standing. How lucky her mother was to visit it and bring back the small memento with which our poet lights her cigarette. This small moment shared with us and in turn, shared with the world.

The Quiet House

east of the city, the off-street parking
of my apartment is my
scenic view, and pole lines and trees –
even one filled with oranges, planted
in the backyard of a two-story white
wooden house whose owners
have a lighting system
that goes on at night, as if
someone is there.
but as much as i look, no one
is home. the kitchen is neat
and untouched, like my future.
the stove is never on, and if the
refrigerator hums, i’ve never heard it.

This is another poem which tugs at me in a personal way. I am obsessed with houses and always have been, every shape and size, curious about the people who live inside. I love driving in neighborhoods where children are riding bicycles, couples walk hand-in-hand down the street, where neighbors tend their front lawns full of flowers and that seems to be disappearing quickly these days. This poem brings that idea to life, this perfect little house in which nothing appears to be happening, no sign of life, no sign that the house is actually a home. The lines: “the kitchen is neat/and untouched, like my future” further builds the stark contrast between activity versus the hope of impending activity. I love that the ending line is about never hearing the refrigerator hum because we never hear our neighbor’s refrigerators hum but the house is so quiet that the poet believe she should be able to hear it. I love this poem, it paints the picture I fear most: Perfect little houses with no life in them.

As I said, this collection of poems is filled with wonderful gems and I have had a very hard time selecting just a few to share. To order a copy of The Measure of Small Gratitudes from Kamini Press there are signed editions for $10.00 and limited editions with artwork for $25.00 (both include shipping and handling) at:


You may also e-mail Henry Denander for an alternative way to pay besides Pay Pal by e-mailing him at:

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

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