Today I give you facts:
1. At a reading, try not to read after Dennis Caswell. He is a hard act to follow.
2. Dennis’s Poem-a-Day email list is a wonder. Highly recommended.
3. Phlogiston is a real word. It is also the title of Dennis’s book.

Phlogiston, from Floating Bridge Press, explodes with playful poems, telling poems, full of intellect and wit and zany detours that lead you right to the heart where you thought you weren’t going and, luckily, ended up.

For a link, here’s Preservation.

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Last month, Tom and I were lucky enough to go hear Sarah Kaye. We sat in the front row. We were awed and swept up and sometimes a little teary. Then Tom surprised me on Valentine’s Day with a copy of her book, No Matter the Wreckage.

We go to readings to hear the poet and the poems in the moment, but then we also get to carry that voice home with us. Having seen Sarah perform in the TED video and now live, I could hear her in these poems–some of which I’d actually heard her perform.

To me, these poems balance story-telling with some amazing imagery. And even the shorter, quieter poems have a momentum. That’s a trick–to put momentum in a quieter poem.

You can hear her perform “Point B” (or “If I should have a daughter”) at the TED link above. But here is another of my favorites, “Ghost Ship”:


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If I hadn’t had to work at the winery on Sunday, I wouldn’t have been driving home in my car, and I wouldn’t have heard this: DEAR SUGAR, The Rumpus Advice Column #64: Tiny Beautiful Things.

It made me feel happy.

One of my favorite parts:

Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.

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I’m sorry it has taken me so long to post the first monthly poetry pick of 2015, but I bring you Late Wife, by Claudia Emerson.

In plain language, with tense and haunting imagery, this book stitches together many losses. There’s the dissolution of a marriage, the distances felt inside it and the gaps it leaves in the time since. There’s the loss of a lover’s first wife, the imprints of death and memory that shape a room, a house, a shared life going forward. And then there’s the loss of Ms. Emerson, her much-too-soon death last year.

I leave you with “Eight Ball.”

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I stopped posting the weekly gratitude journal a while back, but today on my 55th birthday I am grateful for another year on this planet, grateful for learning new things and for getting nudged out of my comfort zone.

And then there’s this football game today. Walking around town, it’s been a joy to see all the energy, the excitement. Go Hawks!

Also, there’s the excitement of spring–longer days, and all the green shooting up from the ground. Crocuses and snowdrops. Those first leaves remind me of this older poem:

Between Worlds

Her hair could be the green
of new shoots, the anemones,
the young leeks that first push
through winter’s crust

as though she is being pulled head-first
from the earth’s world of hearts and bulbs,
from the cool solitude of underground
and the constant dead.

Dirt clings to her eyes
and hoar diamonds glint in her tresses,
but the plum trees are ready to bloom,
the vernal rains persist,

glistening on leaf and palm.
Slowly, willing or not,
she enters these lengthening days.

(“Between Worlds” originally appeared in Weathered Steps.)

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