Archive for June 27th, 2014

Poetry Friday Round-up is at Buffy's Blog.

Poetry Friday Round-up is at Buffy’s Blog.


I do not remember who introduced me to the poetry of Barbara Crooker, but I want to thank you. I am reading Line Dance published in 2008 by Word Press. Barbara Crooker speaks to me. She writes with rich imagery and real life events, touching my heart and my inner poet. She is also a very nice person. When I decided to review her book here on my blog, I wrote her an email from the contact information on her website. Imagine my excitement when, not 24 hours later, she had written me back!

I had a hard time deciding which poem to feature because they are all so good. In the title poem, the lines dance literally on the page as Barbara connects the people she loves in a dance at her daughter’s wedding. “everyone I’ve ever loved/ is here today, even the dead, raising a glass/ and dancing, circling around the bride/ in her frothy gown, bubbles rising/ in a fluted glass, spilling out, running over.”

The collection begins in winter when her father dies “through the narrow window, the cold sky/ stretched blameless, white and blue, behind him.” We are taken on a journey through grief, but not without hope. “this old blue world will keep on spinning, without you.” from Blues for Karen. And then comes Valentine’s Day when she strings hearts in all the windows. “The heart wants and wants and wants some more. Spring so far in the distance.”

Our hearts break with hers and are put back together with the puzzle pieces of her words.


I want to tell you something. This morning
is bright after all the steady rain, and every iris,
peony, rose, opens its mouth, rejoicing.
I want to say, wake up, open your eyes, there’s
a snow-covered road ahead, a field of blankness,
a sheet of paper, an empty screen. Even
the smallest insects are singing, vibrating
their entire bodies, tiny violins of longing
and desire. We were made for song.
I can’t tell you what prayer is, but I can take
the breath of the meadow into my mouth,
and I can release it for the leaves’ green need.
I want to tell you your life is a blue coal, a slice
of orange in the mouth, cut hay in the nostrils.
The cardinals’ red song dances in your blood.
Look, every month the moon blossoms
into a peony, then shrinks to a sliver of garlic.
And then it blooms again.

— Barbara Crooker, from Line Dance, all rights reserved.

The natural world sings in Barbara Crooker’s poetry. In Peony, “Imagine the hard knot of its bud,/ all that pink possibility.” Her poem, One Song (after Rumi), sounds like a concert of birds, beginning with a cardinal in all its red, then a chickadee adds percussion. The sun even comes out to join the chorus. And ends with “All the world breathes in, breathes out./ It hums, it throbs, it improvises./ So many voices. Only one song.”

So many voices. Only one song. Thank you, Barbara, for allowing me to be witness to your song. What a joy!

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Summer Poem Swap.

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts for organizing the Summer Poem Swap.

My own poem written for Robyn Hood Black for the Summer Poetry Swap is featured on Robyn’s site today.

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