by Kirby Congdon……. Gnat Avoiding my crass hand’s sweep, in random sallies within the world of my room, an insect darts, adoit, among the motes of dust that float, glow or drift about in ninety-three-million-mile rays of streaming silence. Such lives, in their abandon, define their space and what it’s all about, though chartless, in the far, rootless reaches of the absolute.
by Kirby Congdon……. Editors often put their best material near the front of their productions to catch the attention that is most worth it. Was this happening in the current Blue Collar Review? The poem on page 2, “Jackie Kennedy’s Hats” by Robert Cooperman out there in Denver is clear and memorable. When Jackie loses her hat as the President is shot, the poet’s father, a hat maker, responds, “There goes my business.” The poem ends this way: “…Dad couldn’t help but love Kennedy’s beautiful [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. On glancing through the first production from the poetry group, Decimos, I was delighted with the Spanish title because this reviewer took three years of Latin in high school voluntarily.There is so much meaning beyond all those declensions!In a world of sports, competition and success Latin gave me something cultural outside of adolescence that was, for me, a beacon. When I read the biographies at the end of this collection I thought, “Well, gee, maybe we’re going somewhere. We’ve got adults here.” [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon…….. Webster’s Dictionary defines a poem as “a style more imaginative than ordinary speech.” This could be anything from street talk dialect to a royal decree or a definition in contracts, politics, news or in the dialogue of conversation. Almost any use of language can be enhanced for here is where the root of poetry takes hold. Its form may take on a graceful and intelligent tone when the speaker is familiar with his medium. A writer may indeed be imaginative with a [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. Raking up the past in dead piles of withered leaves, we dance around the little sins we missed as that song of grief we sing becomes a pagan howl of rectitude to redeem whatever victories we did not win. So losers begin their lives again and watch the trash bags almost burst their straining seams as perfection’s world unfolds in listless imitations of those dust-laden dreams which younger men in their routine on garbage trucks lift on up with weightless ease.
by Kirby Congdon……. The Gildea Gallery has been promoting solid work by experienced painters and sculptors. We have now three distinctive artists this season in a joint show opening on December 11th, 6 to 8 p.m. Suzanne Donazetti works on copper, putting a subtle wave vertically on her sheet of metal juxtaposing her control over this shape with a vast checkerboard of small squares each one tinted in overall patterns of closely related tones. The three-dimensional effect not only gives depth to the surface but gives [continue reading…]
Hanging Around I haunt the old place, like any fool, chin up, head high, charming, debonair as I watch my glass of ginger-ale grow warm, and then go stale. I catch my breath at your silhouette when I forget that I can’t as yet. So I pretend in front of friends: no one’s aware this is the end of our affair. Only fools could think I cared. Kirby Congdon
For Sir Robert Antoni Troubles recovered are victories won as any struggle provides the hope of continuing on. We were there when “there” was then as here and now, our names remain, when all is done, beyond the gloomy stare of judgment’s sun. The trampled weed, the fallen tree, let us feel survival’s thrill as we finish all the odds and ends we had begun and still engage in what we share: a single chance at life’s deep need to give or get, not just [continue reading…]
Keeping Track I try to cross the tracks as the engineer honks his horn. “Get out of the way,” he calls. I watch my step to arrive upright on the other side. “You don’t count,” the engine warns. “I know,” I, resigned, respond. Safely on the other side, I feel the rush of wheels roll on by. The engine, disappearing, cries, “Count, count, count. Count, count, count. “Next time, stand your ground, “Only heroes overcome this trip’s sound “of Grind, grind, grind.” When the tracks [continue reading…]
Storm The cast iron statue of an athlete stood firm against any reckless lack of care. Its heavy weight assured us nothing sturdy fails. Beauty glows whenever even strangers’ eyes or a sculptor’s hand prove it’s there under the shallow surface of distress. Our lives still remain beyond catastrophies when, anonymous, all we knew lay aimless, beyond repair, across the floor. Identity, for the two of us, even now, with only ruins to clarify the world that was, has no need for names. Mind and [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. Blue Collar Review Vol. 20, Issue 4 (Summer 2017) Several names are familiar. This means, for them, writing poetry is an addiction. That’s my kind of poet. The definition of it all gas to go back to Lucretius. We’re not sure why it works, but we know when it does. Mary Franke tries some experimental phrasing with contemporary references. “I’m letting it ride. My life I mean.” Don Narkevic’s “Elegy for a Seamstress” ends with “After a prayer they …. decide whose [continue reading…]
Hazel Griffiths Gildea Gallery 522 Southard Street 5:00 p.m., Friday, 27th October (through November 7th) by Kirby Congdon……. The movement in our society toward women’s rights appears continuous with the exposure of public bullies in business or politics. A more voluntary action is often found in creative work. Hazel Griffiths’s paintings, “Dreamlands and Soulscapes” (using encaustic wax) at the Gildea Gallery (on Southern Street, near the bank, between Simonton and Duval) reflects this freedom. Her paintings are bold and imaginative, holding our attention. Her technique [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. The front page of The New York Times for Friday, September 29, 2017, had this headline: Bullying Seen as Prelude to Classroom Stabbing, with the subtitle, Death in Bronx School Defies Drop in Crime. A reader might have assumed we were pretty well beyond this kind of behavior, but I guess the Bronx cheer of razzing someone with your tongue belongs where it came from. During the Great Depression there is this poem, “Geographical Reflection” by Ogden Nash from his book, Hard Lines [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. Mr. Marissen gets a couple of ideas off his chest before we get into his project. His Preface states, “This book is scholarly but not devotional.” Page 2 of the Introduction asserts, “I am an agnostic.” The subject of all the essays is the text of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantatas, their history, translations, interpretations and grammatical definitions. The language is English but the reader’s knowledge of German, as well as access to recordings, can be helpful. The librettos of the cantatas may discriminate [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. Cricket Carried in the spin of earth’s dogged days, allowed to see the space of time in an eon’s length, I heard a cricket sing to entice a mate. That brave thread like the spread of a spider’s web, made the starlight ring as even silence sang among neurons engaged in errands quickly sent to the inside depths of my singing head. Kirby Congdon
by Kirby Congdon……. Our dependency on such a trivial concern as the spread of pollen has, with our industrial and technological forces, become one more anxiety in civilized society. Maya Catherine Popa’s collection of poems opens with the title prose-poem, “The Bees Have Been Canceled.” The ambiguity of the factual business jargon and the poet’s own language is clever and full of concern at the same time. The narrator comments in a discursive tone that recollects what the activity of bees used to be like [continue reading…]
Query Does memory dare let us see time restract and, fading, pull us back from its endless song? Will orhestras return to let life sing? What symphonies can we ever play with instruments we, deprived, have never learned? As the sun’s light, burning off the dawn, dissolves its haze, can the will to live remain and reconcile, beyond a night, our need for life with that sun’s placid rays so that we, alive, may, voracious, live in the wide expanse of its timeless gaze? Kirby [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. This past Sunday, August 13th (2017) Eric Bennett, in the New York Times Book Review, considers The World Broke in Two. Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, and the Year That Changed Literature by Bill Goldstein. The breakage suggested in the title refers to the end of rewriting the work of historic writers, translating it into contemporary language, and reconciling their own personal crises with their own creative lives. Mr. Bennett’s remarks end with this strange conclusion: The homage Goldstein [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. A friend of mine will not read the Times because it’s a monopoly, but having no morals your reader is an addict. The issue of August 6th, 2017 emphasized poetry for its Book Review last Sunday. I can’t review that issue in its entirety but I want to touch on contributions that provoke interest. I get from the Times editor, David Orr (and A. O. Scott as well) a sense of knowing a wide range of subjects and how the poets handle [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. In his book, Equipment for Living, the author, Michael Robbins, considers contemporary music and lyrics. Louis Menand has reviewed it in The New Yorker (31 July 2017, p. 64) with the title The Defense of Poetry with the subtitle, “Can a poem change your life?” Mr. Menand tells us that the claim suggested in the book’s title is that “poems and songs should make a difference.” The overall concern of the book, as I understand it, is that poetry as lyrics have declined [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. We love you, dear heart, even if you are queer. We only want you to relax and learn how normal people behave, you odd number, you! At least you got new shoes and gave up on those cowboy boots. It’s so nice when we don’t have to explain who you are any more. The power of love is so positive! Isn’t it? I said, isn’t it?!
Book Review by Kirby Congdon……. Eric Greinke has been a figurehead in the field of poetry for decades. He uses his talent in a recent book this year in a consideration of collaborations in writing poetry, having exercised his abilities in half a dozen projects working with prominent talents in this genre. Mr. Greinke defines “the third voice,” in the first of seven chapters, as a by-product of an interpersonal relationships by transmuting the creative process so that it is transformed and transfigured. The individual [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. At age six or seven a child in a minority (beyond his own position in his own minority of being a child) wants to bond comfortably with his superiors. If his family is uneducated he will see that as his standard. Without the essentials, like food, housing, clothing, companionship and a decent income to begin with, his imagination has nowhere to grow and so we lose another generation of citizens. That one-on-one learning process relies on close associations where empathy, rather than competition, [continue reading…]
by Kirby Congdon……. Centrifugal force would fling everything from the planet if its path hit a snag. Gravity is holding it all together in one clump. The ice in my glass, the nail in my shoe, the pupil in my eye defy incoherence or any sense of disunity whether it’s the intimate landscape that lies in the writing of your name or the long stretch of a mountain range. Such effects cannot work together at the same time, but they do. Is this what they mean [continue reading…]