Friday, January 4, 2019

Tobi Alfier - And Now We Have 2019

We didn’t even stay up to watch the ball drop in New York. My husband Jeff was jet-lagged, I’m always tired. We didn’t hear a single firecracker, no one called us at midnight. We did what we always do – wake up, kiss each other good morning, say “Happy New Year”, then go check for acceptances and rejections.

Now you know why, after taking a “crossing genres” class with Mark Doty, I said “I learned that I will never write a memoir because I’m so boring, not even I would read it!” I hope your evening, and upcoming year, are everything you want it to be.

Did you make any resolutions? Real ones, not ones that were broken before the night was over? I didn’t even think of making any until the question was asked in my LinkedIn group – Poetry Editors and Poets. I could barely think of three:

  1. Submit to one contest a month. I never win anything. It’s my way of being a good literary citizen by making small donations here and there. If the contest fee includes a one year subscription to a journal I enjoy, it’s a win-win.

  1. Diligently continue this blog for the whole year. I appreciate those of you who read this. You help keep me focused on poetry. You remind me to write in a way that’s understandable and current. This blog is for me as much as it is for you, and I am very thankful to write it.

  1. Have you heard of the “30/30”? During April, National Poetry Month, the idea is to write 30 poems in 30 days. My goal is to write ten good poems that I can submit and that will be published. I don’t care about writing 30 crummy poems just to say I did it. If you’ve ever done this before, or never tried it before, start thinking about whether this is a challenge you want to try in 2019.

You have three months to get in the habit of finding poetry in everything, from the beauty of a hawk flying in a cloudless sky, to the person buying Spam, cat food, and asparagus in line behind you at the store. Everything can become poetic; practice observing. Practice eavesdropping. Practice writing. Get ready for April!  

Those are the only resolutions I made.

As you may know, January 13th Jeff and I are the featured readers on behalf of the Cholla Needles Magazine poetry reading series at Space Cowboy Books. There is also an open mic. I am very much looking forward to meeting you and hearing your poems!  Those of you who read this blog and who are local have an advantage over us: you’ve been to these, we haven’t. Any comments or suggestions you can offer below will be gratefully accepted.

We’ve seen pictures of the readings but don’t know the audience. We don’t know if there will be kids there. We rarely have curse words in our poems, just so you know. The reading will be G Rated.

I currently have copies of three books: “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where, “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies, and “The Color of Forgiveness. They will be available at Space Cowboy Books. The same will go for Jeff’s books.

Full disclosure – I used to only cry in Texas. Even though I practice and practice, something will make me cry and my poems aren’t even sad!!! My apologies in advance. Please bring Kleenex if you are easily influenced.

Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was published by our very own Rich Soos and Cholla Needles Press. Our other books were by different publishers.

The Color of Forgiveness” is the only collaborative book Jeff and I have ever made. There are some poems by me, some by Jeff, many where our stanzas are woven together to make new poems, and many of Jeff’s beautiful black and white photos. You cannot tell who wrote what. The compilation was done by Michael Dwayne Smith, editor of Mojave River Press and Review.  A sample poem is below.

See you on the 13th!!

How Jo Beth Came to Love
the Sabbath Crow Sky

Clouds are the lecture hall of God.
High cirrus wisps are tears of women
walking the Widow’s Walk, waiting
for their men to come home from sea.

[ Immersed in the distance, her
serrated wings are stained gray
by the marine layer trundling in
off the morning ocean surf.]

Cumulus are the beefy bullies in
the football uniforms of the universe.
If they had sound, and sometimes they do,
they would be the drum line announcing their
arrival, daring anyone not to notice.

The broom of wind, sweeping dust off
the hearth of heaven, sometimes a promenade
of sociability and others a run for cover. And always
the birds, riding the highs and lows, gliders over invisible
peaks caused by air, the hidden sea, from below.

[ Like the rest of us, she breaks the Sabbath,
dark semaphore of Hebrew wilderness,
glutton of sea and earth, living and dead,
aloft in the damp solitude of air above
houses lining my street.]

Birds don’t take meteorology class, they just know.

[ She eyes my pale lawn
that grows anything but green.]

Gray or any shade turning toward dawn,
or blue, she would lie on the grass, red
velvet blanket wrapped around her for warmth.

She would climb
into the stories
of the sky.

From squirrels jumping
from roof to tree,
to a web shining

with droplets of dew,
to the helicopter heard
but not seen until long

past overhead,
destination unknown
and wide-eyed.

[ All day I’ve watched as she and kin
glide toward dusk, fallen light
having faded their wings, as if

to take them back, blackness melding
with black, like meteors that would burn out
those times I’d lay on my back as a child

watching summer night sky.
I had crawled out my bedroom window
to stare in peace, as now, I sit
on the curb, the ember of my last smoke
burning holes in the dark.]

There’s a lot you can imagine.

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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.

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