National Poetry Month: Two Autumn Skies

Wren on April 8th, 2017

Autumn Sky Poetry Daily is one of several sites that specialize in offering a new poem every day, or nearly so. I like that the editor, Christine Klocek-Lim, follows the poem with an “editor’s note,” a few thoughts on the strengths of the work, what drew her to select that poem out of the pile of submissions. Such comments from an editor are nice for readers and poets. Unlike most publications, Autumn Sky is open to previously published poems. For a poet, this can bring tested work to a larger audience.

My poem, Random John Fox, appeared on Autumn Sky in November. I wrote the first draft when my friend John was hospitalized with deadly meningitis. But in rewrites  years later I avoided the narrative story of John, who survived and recently welcomed his second child. Instead, my goal was to reflect on that time of not knowing–when a critically ill or injured person could turn either way. I portraited the randomness of fate as experienced by those in waiting. What do the specifics of a person’s life mean when a virus, car crash or drone strike can kill? Life means everything to the living and those left behind. And like Make Soup, You Said, my poems often try to make sense when life’s large random elements bring death.

I read that death is the most popular poem topic. I’m not sure if it’s true, but the article I read makes the point that if a writer takes on a universally covered topic like death, they need to bring something surprising and new to the discussion or treat the subject in a dramatically creative new way. I must contribute something in writing about loss and death, because editors do pick my grief poems.

Broom Zen was first published in Winamop, then appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily in March. I believe it may be included in a special upcoming Green Revolution, a memorial edition to Charles Curtiss, my friend who sweeps his way through his own grief in this poem. He himself died last year. I wrote this early in my time at Heathcote Community. Most of my poetry was written in this wonderful natural, communal setting. Broom Zen was an early effort at rhythm and economy. I was also walking a line with narrative and repetition, trying to find my poetic voice while giving my reader enough information for my intended emotional impact.

People who know John and Charles pick up on details in the poems that make them joyful portraits of these friends. My hope is that readers can access deeper layers of broader meaning and connect with their own experiences of loss. Thank you, Christine and Autumn Sky Daily for accepting my work!


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