Writing Poems in a Another Voice for Where the River Runs Deep

where the river runs deep

Storms passed through North Aurora early Saturday morning and my little dog Schatzi was fit to be tied. I wrapped her in a thunder shirt, lay down on the sofa beside her, and stroked her neck until dawn. As a result, I was too tired to attend my Saturday morning Early Riser get-together at the Limestone Café in Batavia.

I hated to miss that gathering of friends, who are also connected to the writing world. Energy is high–creative people bonding at the top of the day. We support each other in our artistic endeavors. My new book, Where the River Runs Deep (WTRRD), is dedicated to the Early Risers.

Open Sky Poets met in the afternoon. Six or seven of us get together every two weeks or so to read our work, receive critiques, and good advice.

In WTRRD, character Amen Hotep Jones is a poet and since I created him, it is, of course, I, who wrote his poems. I tried to find a voice for him, separate from my own. Whether or not I was successful has yet to be determined. Amen was African American, grew up in the Carolina swampland, and ended up in an Illinois prison. The following, part of “The Astarte Poems,” are his:

Big-hipped woman
I saw you laying in a box
A dove sitting on your head,
Your breasts peaked like stiff egg whites.

I behold you, woman of clay.
Your laughter is an aria of joy.
Be the sonar of love
where the river is deep.
Wake us all.
Wake us all.

Velvet skin, like a hound’s ear.
During the night, did the honey bees sting your lips?
Did you comb the night into your hair?
And is the moon your tiara?

My sweet puppy, BoPeep, is part hound. And I was probably thinking of her with Amen’s mind when I wrote the first line. I can see BoPeep, ever watchful for rabbits, running along beside him on the banks of the Orchy River.

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Kirkus Review of Spy Car and Other Poems


Lynne Handy
Push On Press (56 pp.)
$10.00 paperback
ISBN: 978-0-692-61233-0; January 18, 2016


If poetry is a car, this debut collection hums and purrs like an expertly tuned machine.

Good poetry is about pressure—how much force one can pack into, and wring from, the fewest words—and it’s clear from the get-go that Handy is fully aware of the nature of that struggle. One can hear it in “Something Like a Sonnet for Lucie Brock-Broido,” when she writes, “she lifts her pen to torque / A primer for divining spells.” Much can be divined from the poet’s choice of the verb “torque.” Another author might have opted for the more conventional word “write.” Torque, by contrast, is rotational force: the power that carries an object around a fixed point, and with this simple word, Handy gives readers a whole picture—of pen pressed down to page on the fulcrum of a poet’s knuckle. Poetry, she seems to say, is pressure and, thus, work. Her verse is chock full of such little joys, of words and phrases that, when pressed, give way to images, stories, and worlds. A high point is the title poem, in which the speaker marvels at her grandson’s rehabilitation of an old sports car: “he replaced / the brakes, ignition, clutch hydraulics, / pumps, belts, hoses, and the choke. / Its bracken chassis overhauled, / the vintage MGB positively preened.” Later, the young mechanic takes her on a ride, and they sweep “along Illinois highways, / eyes riveted through a shared windshield.” To her credit, Handy doesn’t romanticize the relationship between grandmother and grandchild, but she does show what they hold in common: the clear windshield, the road, or perhaps the work. This is a book about rehabilitating language, and readers are sure to enjoy the ride.

A book that takes old words, spruces them up, and puts them out on the highway again.

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The Green Woman

greenwoman5The Green Man, his handsome face (depends on which Green Man you’re looking at) surrounded by foliage, is a pre-Christian symbol, representing fertility, death, and rebirth. Though his face may be found throughout places of worship in Europe and the Near East, he figures predominantly in Celtic mythology.

greenwoman8The Green Woman is not the mate of the Green Man. She was not born from his rib. She arrived in the explosion that formed Earth and reigns alone. If she met the Green Man in a meadow, she would nod, exchange pleasantries, but go on her way.

greenwoman4She may be linked to Aphrodite or Astarte, or any of the other ancient love goddesses, but she is inextricably tied to nature. She is the song in a poet’s heart as she walks in a forest. She is the thrill that runs through the body when exploring an ancient woodland. She partners with the sun and moon, catches rays that warm the seedlings and monitor the tides. She watches trees grow, rivers cleanse themselves, oceans foam. She watches over children reveling in the sun, squirrels skittering over branches, honey bees searching for pollen.

She cares about the environment; she cares about Earth’s creatures. Over time, she will appear in all her manifestations in this space and give voice to triumphs and yearnings.

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