Friday, April 23, 2010

Poetry Tips: Secret Agents

In movies you will see messages decoded via a smart computer to find out “the real message” and same with riddles. Why not create a poem with a hidden message? It could be in the form of a riddle, or it may be the word at the end or beginning of each line is important.

Good luck to all who try it, please click in next Monday for another featured site…

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blood Orange Review Open Submissions

You may use their electronic submissions link to submit 3 to 5 poems, explore their site first, check out details at:

Good luck to all who submit, please drop in tomorrow for more Poetry Tips…

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Poems Found by Poet Hound
“The Impossibility of Crows” by Haines Eason
“Song” by Randall Mann

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Ancestors by Amber R. Nelson

Amber Nelson hails from the San Francisco Bay Area of California and has published poems in various journals including Nerve Cowboy, Nibble, and Puffin Circus just to name a few. Her self-published collection of poems is titled The Ancestors takes a sometimes abstract look and then narrows into focus her thoughts on history-making moments and figures as well as personal anecdotes. The cover art is done by Julie Dillon and is very eye-catching, a man leaning against a wall smoking a cigarette on the front, while the back features a lone owl on a fence post which gives a sense of rebellion and solitude before you open the chapbook itself. I consider it a page turner and had difficulty narrowing down the number of poems to feature as many caught my curiosity:

And a Sister

Scorching hot and stagnant
she peers out
her big window, watching
heat rise from
their shackles,
almost as painful
as the crooked scars on
their bare back.

She invites
the Girl her father bought
into the house
to play.
her dress-up trunk
across the floor, she says
“You can wear anything.”
The Girl picks one out
a ripe plum
and gently rubs the lace
between her fingers.

As she helps
with each button, she
sees those same scars
become gradually obscured by
the fine fabric.
“Can I wear yours?”
she asks her playmate.

She puts on the calico dress
and trembles
as she envisions her father
coming closer
with that whip in hand.

This poem brings to mind the Slave Trade in the South from the more innocent perspective of the young daughter of the land owner. The daughter observes the scars of the girl who has been bought but like many children, is able to easily navigate around the idea of cruelty through play by playing dress-up. When the daughter puts on the slave girl’s dress she then puts on the implications of the scars and where they come from. I think this is a powerful poem and well-written, too.


Sometimes I want to shake the world without a word.

I want to ring the bell. Push the button. He would

Play the strings in the piano
or the smiling teeth of the harp.
Get in the lemonade and splash about.

With his scissors
cut the straight man’s cigar in half.

It would be nice to
Snip the feathers from their hats
to ride in on a makeshift chariot
and push them off their high horses.

But if a pair of dirty, melancholy hands
needs a cup of coffee, he has one
it’s in his pocket
and he is glad to give it up.

When I first read the poem, I imagined the poet wanting to shake the world awake and then noticing an older wise man quietly making the rounds to better the less fortunate. I asked Ms. Nelson about the title since it didn’t match up with my thoughts and she kindly clarified that Harpo is in reference to Harpo Marx of the Marx brothers. In one scene where Harpo Marx goes around silently, as is his custom, he makes a point to be kind to the poor which inspired this poem. Now I can see the antics of Harpo in the lines where he cuts the cigar in half, snips off feathers, makes a mockery of the more wealthy and then humbles the wealthy by giving his own things to the less fortunate. I think it’s clever and entertaining poem, don’t you?

A Photograph of Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk
had so many
on his face
I was never
one hundred per
cent certain
they were the
product of
or of misery.
His picture
is on my wall
I know exactly how
he moved in
the front of the
the sun felt like
tea, the air felt
like lemonade
pushing forward
his arms
draped in orchids
like a prince
as if he
was looking directly
into the ocean’s eye
like an incredible
sea wall
putting his
to the wheel

Harvey Milk is a man famous for standing up for gay rights and running for city council, winning, and inspiring people to stand up for their rights. I love that Ms. Nelson writes him as heading a procession draped in orchids and describing the air as lemonade, as though it were a sunny and light-hearted adventure in which Milk has the power to drive the public towards acceptance (and he did for San Francisco in his day). Ms. Nelson also let me know that the last few lines “putting his/shoulder/to the wheel,” is also a reference to Allen Ginsberg’s poem “America.” Allen Ginsberg is fitting as he was a gay man and also a driving force for change. I find the poem leaves me smiling, wanting to champion my own causes.

Nocturnal Poem #2

I am Lauren Bacall
and the night is my grayscale oyster.
I want to stay in
bed all day like Marcel Proust
but I have trouble sleeping
so I ribbon myself about your body
try to untighten my face
(the face of sunlit dramaturgy)
and sink

In this poem, most of you know Lauren Bacall as a very attractive model and so it is fitting to be a beautiful woman lounging in bed, though it is intriguing to bring Marcel Proust into the picture as he spent considerable time sickly in bed as opposed to making love in bed. I love the line “so I ribbon myself about your body” because it can spur an active imagination of the couple and then you are greeted with the next line “try to untighten my face” which means there is tension between the sheets. The poem brings about oppositions that somehow all fit well together for the point of the poem, a night of passion that the poet wishes could last forever.

If you enjoyed this sample, you can purchase a copy of The Ancestors for yourself for $5.00 (USD shipping included) at:

You can also learn more about Amber and her adventures at:

For the artist behind the cover art, check out Julie Dillon at:

For the people who helped Ms. Amber Nelson print and publish her chapbooks, see 1984 Printing at:

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

Monday, April 19, 2010

Old Mossy Moon

This blog by K. Lawson Gilbert features poems paired with photos and is quite wonderful, check her out at:

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