Thursday, June 5, 2014, at 7:00 pm, poets Partridge Boswell and Jessamyn Smyth will continue the seventh season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)
A longtime arts advocate, Partridge Boswell has served at the vanguard of cultural activities in northern New England as director of several regional performing arts organizations. Co-founder of Bookstock: The Green Mountain Festival of Words and managing editor of Harbor Mountain Press, Boswell lives with his family in Vermont. His poems have been featured recently in such publications as The American Poetry Review, Slice, and The Literary Review. His collection, Some Far Country, won the 2013 Grolier Discovery Award.
Jessamyn Smyth’s Kitsune was a winner in the New Women’s Voices Series of Finishing Line Press (2013). Her poetry and prose have appeared in Red Rock Review, American Letters and Commentary, Nth Position, MiCrow/Full of Crow, Wingbeats: Exercises and Practices in Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. She has received honorable mention in Best American Short Stories (2006) and several nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and is the recipient of fellowships, scholarships, and grants from the Robert Francis Foundation, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and many others. Jessamyn is Editor in Chief of Tupelo Quarterly, the founding Director of the new Quest Writer’s Conference, and is visiting faculty in Humanities at Quest University in Canada.
AND PIGS MAY FLY / Partridge Boswell
—for Michael Hayes
I’m boarding my flight home from the heartland,
overflowing with hope for humanity and grace of good
people I’ve met, when the red-cheeked man in front of me
tries to stuff his oversized duffel into an overhead bin.
Unremarkable in itself, except the crumpling resistance
he’s experiencing belongs to the couple beside me—
their garment bag with wedding clothes now being
squashed to the size of a shriveled carnation. Rather
than seek the nearly empty compartment next to theirs,
he removes the couple’s bag and hands it to them,
saying it sure would help him out. Incredulous, she lays
their wardrobe’s wrinkled remains under the seat in front of her.
Not as if this is a big flight either, where individual motives and
ordinary desperation can skulk in a stuffed tin turkey of nerves:
just a crop hopper between Columbus and Cleveland.
Airborne, I gaze at the farmers’ neat patchwork where once
Shawnee sat on bare ground expecting an apology
and got the opposite from Mad Anthony Wayne. What will
it take I wonder—a heart attack, losing someone close—
to bring the minutiae miles below into focus, for him
to reach for his rip cord and realize he’s chute-less
with the ground coming up fast.
“I’m just lookin at gate numbers to see where I gotta go,”
he announces to no one in particular as we taxi to the terminal,
as if his were the sole connection, our reason for traveling—
to keep him company and his airfare low, smile at his impunity
the way one regards a basket of severed hands of Congolese
rubber slaves. I unbuckle and haul my own carryon out
from under his seat, the dry aftertaste of contrition like salted
nuts on my silent tongue. Why didn’t I speak up? I could have
said something, or from my vantage plagued him for forty-five
minutes, imitating with the tip of my pen a reconnoitering fly
landing on the white heliport of his head. At the very least
I could have winked—a mute solidarity for the woman
next to me and her husband who, seconds before the cabin
door opens, whips out a Playboy and begins reading.
(Originally published in Rattle. Used with permission of author.)
SWEET ALICE TRAIL / Jessamyn Smyth
Sweet Alice begins in pears, and ends in pears:
gnarled and lovely, cut back hard, an orchard
grown sideways against blue, Bare Mountain
hovering. It’s better not to know who she was.
Histories. Whole lives. Carried across rough timber
bridges, clubmoss striations, to lose hold of them
in the forest. To fall away and dry on the ground,
lightweight now, a pear-shaped husk, gold and fragile.
This desiccation is sweet: it’s heartsease in hollows,
blue-green lichen. A shadow-striped doe, silent.
(from Conservation Areas. Used with permission of author.)