Thursday, December 28, 2006

Now for Something Completely Different—Poetry

I’ve been writing poetry on and off for my entire adult life. While I’ve had some individual poems published, I've never put together a volume of my work until now.

I’m pleased to announce the publication of Full Circle: Selected Poems, 1980-2005. The book is available in PDF format from Fair Isle Press, an online publisher of electronic books. Full Circle, like all Fair Isle books, can be downloaded for FREE.

You can access the book by clicking the following link: Full Circle . Then click the Free download option on the lefthand side.

The poems in Full Circle feature a variety of subjects, moods, and styles. Below, I offer a sampling of poems from among those selected for the book. I hope they inspire you to download the complete collection.

I Wasn’t There

For Eric Clapton, on the death of his five-year-old son

Over and over in my mind’s eye
I see him leaning out the window
smiling, captivated by something
on the street far below, perhaps,

or reaching to touch an imaginary
butterfly, extending his small
eager body past its point of balance
on the sill’s meager fulcrum,

seesawing away from the heavy brick
and mortar of the world, falling
light as a butterfly, landing—
he must have landed—in heaven.

March, 1993


The new basketball pole gleams white
next to the blacktop driveway
and the graphite adjustable backboard
vibrates with every shot.

Three suntanned boys in tank tops and shorts,
one of them my son,
ask me to lower the hoop to seven feet
so they can slam dunk.

I watch them watching each other
to see who can jump highest
and I can see that girls
will be watching them soon

then talking about them,
which one is cutest,
girls putting all that energy into talk
while boys shoot baskets,

alive in their bodies,
speaking the pungent language
of sweat and contact,
each guarding the other,

all grinning
as the ball drops through the net
with a perfect swish.

September, 1993

September 13, 1993

I haven’t planted a tree in Israeli soil.
I haven’t floated on the salt waters of the Dead Sea
or pressed my lips against the Wailing Wall,

but today, when Rabin said,
“It’s not so easy”
to make peace with Arafat

his words resonated inside me, plumbing
that deep well from which Rachel drew water—
a reservoir of hope,

an unending source of tears,
the marriage of Jacob and Rachel barren
until finally Rachel gave birth to Joseph

who made his own peace with Eygpt
and forgave his brothers
though they sold him into slavery.

I wish we had Joseph with us now
to interpret this latest dream
of peace.

Midori Ito
A Pantoum

Rising suns flutter in the stands
as she slowly skates onto ice,
face of a Kabuki dancer,
modest, but without kimono.

She slowly skates onto ice,
eyes downcast, her muscular legs
immodest, without kimono.
She has come to skate for honor.

Eyes downcast, with muscular legs
she balances on two sharp blades.
She has come to skate for honor,
devoted as a samurai.

She balances on two sharp blades,
gliding gracefully to music,
devoted as a samurai
warrior facing certain death.

Gliding gracefully to music,
she attempts the triple axel
like a warrior facing death,
needing perfect concentration.

She attempts the triple axel,
leaps, knowing she cannot succeed
without perfect concentration,
and falls, shame etched on her features—

face of a Kabuki dancer
as all the rising suns flutter.

February, 1992

What Tim Wakefield Knows

The perfect knuckleball has no spin. It sails in
from the mound like a solitary ship on a still sea

and, like the mirage of a ship, it hovers before
the thirsty batter, who swings his bat to no avail,

the ball only real when it lands in the catcher’s mitt
with a soft thump. Hitters looking for the fastball

swing way out in front. They can’t uncoil their muscles
in slow motion as the ball floats into the strike zone.

The knuckleball hitter must learn the art of meditation.

October, 1992

Greatest Hits
For Alanna Jones

Waiting for his call,
she transfers CDs to an iPod,
patiently feeds the disc drive
with every CD he owns,
imports his favorite songs
into the small, sleek device
for export to Ramadi, Iraq.
The iPod will lie inside
his pocket, touching him,
maybe stopping a bullet,
crooning words of Top Forty
devotion while she soldiers
through her days at the health club,
trains middle-aged women
fighting nothing more lethal
than gravity and brittle bones
to lift weights, use the shoulder press.

After he calls her, he shoulders
his rifle, bearing the weight—
kevlar vest, helmet,
combat boots, her love.



Anonymous said...

Barbara, I just printed all 62 pages and will delight in reading your poems. What an opportunity to scan the years of your poetic thoughts and experiences. Fair Isle Press is a new treasure.

Anonymous said...


Midori Ito is the most gracefully executed, flawless Pantoum I have ever read. Quite often Pantoums fall to comedy because they are so difficult to execute. Yours is spectacular. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Barbara, I completely agree with Bonnie. Midori Ito is stunning. Thank you! Cheryl
P.S. And I miss you two.

Anonymous said...

Stick to prose.