Laura Foley & Joshua Michael Stewart

Please join us for our last event until October!

Thursday, July 6, 2017, at 7:00 pm, poets Laura Foley and Joshua Michael Stewart will close the tenth season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)

Laura Foley

Laura Foley is the author of six poetry collections, including, most recently, WTF and Night Ringing. Her poem “Gratitude List” won the Common Good Books poetry contest and was read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Her poem “Nine Ways of Looking at Light” won the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. A palliative care volunteer in hospitals, with an MA and a MPhil in English Lit. from Columbia University, she lives with her partner, and three big dogs among the hills of Vermont.

Joshua Michael Stewart

Joshua Michael Stewart has had poems published in the Massachusetts Review, Gertrude, Louisville Review, Rattle, Night Train, Evansville Review, Cold Mountain Review, and many others. His first full-length collection of poems, Break Every String, was published by Hedgerow Books in 2016. Visit him at www.joshuamichaelstewart.com.

 

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MY FATHER’S ROSES / Laura Foley

I’m annoyed,
passing my father’s roses
every day,
as I walk to work—
flagrant colors, clamoring
years past his death,
outside his old office
on York.
How I hated
how attentive
he was to them,
lacing their stems
with pesticides,
reciting the names
of every damn one,
clipping their skinny necks,
manicured fingers
tenderly placing each
in its own vase,
never minding their thorns.

(published first in Valparaiso Poetry Review)

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FUNCTIONAL / Joshua Michael Stewart

My father won’t read poetry. He taught
my brother the ways of paintbrush
and canvas, played guitar before I was born

but after Nam, lost interest, saw no sense
in art. I’d like to think, surviving war,
I’d see no better reason to create, proclaim
and praise I am here, but what do I know,

given my armed conflict with the self?
My father once cradled a dying soldier
missing everything below his waist,

and watched a starving boy convulse
after a sergeant handed the child a candy bar—
his body no longer understood food.

My father pulls shoulder muscles
as he masons walls, lays foundations.
He cracks knuckles against engine blocks,

torqueing wrenches. Because the dead
remind him that splinters in his palms
are gifts, he builds cabinets, chairs, houses.
His life is work, no room for self-indulgence

or anything frivolous. But don’t we also live
in rooms not constructed out of lumber and stone?
Art is an alarm clock. Art is a ladle of beauty

lifted to the lips. My father. On the table
he planed, sanded, stained— where we’ve sat
together after a long time of not sitting together,
where we’ve eaten slow—I want him to dance

and afterwards, I want him to see the scuffmarks
on the pine as affirmations of purpose—of loving
the lost with raucous praise, of letting the gone go.

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