Thursday, February 5, 2015, at 7:00 pm, poets Jeffrey Harrison and Mark Hart will continue the eighth season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)
Jeffrey Harrison is the author of five full-length books of poetry—The Singing Underneath (1988), selected by James Merrill for the National Poetry Series, Signs of Arrival (1996), Feeding the Fire (2001), Incomplete Knowledge (2006), which was runner-up for the Poets’ Prize, and Into Daylight, published in 2014 by Tupelo Press as the winner of the Dorset Prize– as well as of The Names of Things: New and Selected Poems, published in 2006 by Waywiser Press in the U.K. A recipient of Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships, as well as other honors, he has published poems in The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, Poets of the New Century, The Twentieth Century in Poetry, and in many other magazines and anthologies. He has taught at George Washington University, Phillips Academy, where he was Writer-in-Residence, College of the Holy Cross, Framingham State University, the Stonecoast MFA Program, and the Solstice MFA Program, and he has visited many schools to read from his work and discuss poetry with students. He lives in Massachusetts.
Mark D. Hart grew up on a wheat farm in the Palouse region of eastern Washington State and now lives in an apple orchard in western Massachusetts. He is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice, the guiding teacher for the Bodhisara Dharma Community, and a religious advisor at Amherst College. He has taught religious studies at both Seattle University and Smith College. He began writing poetry in 2003 after the death of his father. Since then his work has appeared in Atlanta Review, RATTLE, Poetry East, Margie, The Midwest Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, The Spoon River Poetry Review and numerous other journals. His first book of poetry, Boy Singing to Cattle, won the Pearl Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the 2014 Massachusetts Book Award.
CROSS-FERTILIZATION / Jeffrey Harrison
It’s come to this: I’m helping flowers have sex,
crouching down on one knee to insert
a Q-tip into one freckled foxglove bell
after another, without any clue
as to what I’m doing—which, come to think of it,
is always true the first time with sex.
And soon Randy Newman’s early song
“Maybe I’m Doing it Wrong” is running
through my head as I fumble and probe,
golden pollen tumbling off the swab.
I transported these foxgloves from upstate New York,
where they grow wild, to our back yard
in Massachusetts, and I want them to multiply,
but the bumblebees, their main pollinators,
haven’t found them, and I’m not waiting around.
The only diagram I found online portrayed
a flower in cross section, the stamens extending
the loaded anthers toward the flared opening,
but the text explained, “The female sexual
organs are hidden.” Of course they are.
Which leaves me in the dark, transported back
to a state of awkward if ardent
unenlightenment, a complete beginner
figuring it out as I go along,
giggling a little and humming an old song
as I stick the Q-tip into another flower
as if to light the pilot of a gas stove
with a kitchen match, leaning in to listen for
the small quick gasp that comes
when the flame makes contact with the source.
from Into Daylight (Tupelo Press, 2014).
PLANTING GARLIC / Mark Hart
I love to imagine the first blind rootings
in gravity’s dark light, the sodden waiting,
the slow ignition of their tiny green rockets
as I bury their pink-skinned cheeks
in the corpse-cold ground soon freezing to stone.
My neighbor says the mounded beds look like
freshly dug graves. He’s right— I am
an undertaker for the living, consigning innocents
to birth not death, though
not every womb is warm. Let this planting
stand for all inhospitable beginnings,
for what shivers unseen awaiting its chance.
Foot to shovel, back to wind, sky dour with
coming rain, crows squawking, a few creaking pines,
the hoarse whisper of corn stalks blowing,
their dry matter to be thrown on the pile–
I could work up a good sweat of melancholy here
if wonder were not constantly interrupting.
I’m fifty. I take no comfort in the rites of religion.
Let me see the miracle before me,
the one I too am.
Let planting bring me to my knees.
from Boy Singing to Cattle (Pearl Editions, 2013).