I am excited to present a mixture of poems from some highly regarded poets. Though I usually don’t present work in alphabetical order (by author), it had worked out that way for this edition. I am always careful to balance the kinds of emotion that might be evoked in a series of poems.
KB Ballentine (TN) shares an imagery-rich scifi poem (“Ocean View”), as well as a pensive surreal poem (“You, Again”) which transcends genre. Kyle Hemmings (NJ) continues to astound the his many readers with his creative surrealism (“Urban Blue”). Fantasy takes an interesting twist with Helga Kidder’s (TN) poetry (“Snow White 2015” and “Faded FairyTale”). The speculative poems on Coast Salish women by Patrick Loafman (WA) form part of an intriguing series (“The Zipper of Hungry Teeth, “Tuesday Morning,” and “The Map of Our Flesh”). And the well-known Ken Poyner closes the selection with a lighter poem (“Coupling”).
As my gift to you, below is a holiday poem I had written four years ago, “My Christmas Tree” (Static Poetry). May its magic bring forth some joyous memories for you.
John C. Mannone
Abyss & Apex
My Christmas Tree
Pine branches bristle, their Christmas
green dusted with the brisk winter sun.
Dozens of Douglas firs huddle in rows
waiting for fathers and their sons to pick
the perfect one. My sons are across
the snowbound states. My father is lost
in memories. Each one reaching out to me
like unfolding branches as I thump
the rough pine-tarred stump on the ground.
I look up the tree, then down, and up again,
walk around its girth with measured steps
as Dad used to do. I’d single out the next one
while Dad motioned to the guy in the lot.
When the right one seemed to call my name,
Dad bickered with the man, haggled
the price down. He taught me. Today,
I rope my tree into the trunk of the Ford,
more than half hanging out, and drive it
home with the same care I had for my wife
and new son coming home from the hospital.
In the driveway, I saw into the soft trunk
leveling it without any help. Back then, Dad
would smile, ask politely and have them do it
before he brought it home; but today, no one.
The Walmart folks just try to sell you the saw.
I said no thanks. I have one like Dad’s at home.
Pine tar infuses the air as I saw through pith,
particles of wood smell like magic, fairy dust.
For a moment, I am eight again, and my father
is standing next to me, both of us
with the scent of pine on our hands.
– John C. Mannone
[An earlier version was first pubished in Static Poetry (ed. Chris Bartholomew, Static Movement Publishing 2011)]
John C. Mannone has work accepted in The Southern Poetry Anthology (NC), Still: The Journal, Negative Capability, Split Rock Review, Agave, Tupelo Press, Raven Chronicles, Poetica Magazine, Synaesthesia, 3Elements Review, The Baltimore Review, Rose Red Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Tipton Poetry Journal, Prairie Wolf Press Review, The Pedestal, Motif v2 & v3 anthologies, and others. His collection, Flux Lines, was a semi-finalist for the 2014 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize. He’s the poetry editor for Abyss & Apex and Silver Blade, and an adjunct professor of chemistry and physics in east TN. His work has been nominated three times for the Pushcart. Visit The Art of Poetry: http://jcmannone.wordpress.com
It is Christmas eve. This poem resonates with memories of my own father –and how we picked a tree — Blue Spruce from a Colorado foothill — he used an axe. Thank you for this, it’s perfect, John.