A small compilation of poems written between 2012 and 2018, this poetry chapbook Before Cancer Comes For Me is an exploration of stories and themes related to grief, cancer and death, and the parts of these which faith does and does not help with.
Black and white photography included. Chapbook design by Sara Beth Horishnyk, edited by Erin Lynn Marsh, and production by Kellie Schneider. Book size is 8.5" x 5.5", and it is 14 pages, including 8 poems. All profits from this chapbook will be used to assist friends with cancer with payment for treatment and other bills affected by work time lost due to treatment, beginning with Jessa Roquet of Gambler's Daughter.
UPDATE: Jessa passed peacefully in her sleep on the morning of 6/1/2021. Through this fundraiser, we were able to raise $550 for Jessa's treatment.
TO PURCHASE LOCALLY IN MINNEAPOLIS: Available at Eat My Words Books @ 214 13th Ave. NE. It is currently undetermined what individual additional funds will go toward at this time, but all funds paid except any tax or credit card processing fee will be held for use in the way stated above. Purchase price: $10.
Excerpt below (another of the poems can be found on The Altered Scale Blog):
Bottling your sadness only pushes it
deep down underground and causes
earthquakes later on. System shutdown
happens when the cogs of the machinery
are crowded and clogged by too much
input and no release. Sometimes you've
gotta be strong for the other guy or for
your kids. But other times you are alone
and you need to let the dam burst.
I am giving you permission to be weak,
Mirror Girl. I am giving you permission
to wail out your heart and be as angry
as you want for the dead and the dying.
You believe in the other world and in
its goodness. You believe that nothing
good is ever really lost, just in a different
place for a while. But you live in time,
your brain is not big enough to imagine
living out of it. And time now, with
wonderful people, is being taken away.
You are taken from them and they are
taken from you - dire consequence of
running in a human race with God. We
cannot outpace our Creator, nor match
Him stride for stride. We expire, trying.
Don't worry about being angry, Mirror
Girl. It means you are alive.
BOOK PROJECT ON HOLD:
I got 90+ pages into writing a 365 page book and then life got in the way. Unsure about its future. I think this one may come around, but first, I have a slew of poetry chapbooks coming your way. :)
Written in 1999 and published in 2009, The Year Without You is an intensely personal poem-journey through a devastating break-up. Illustrated with photos and art from eight different artists, it is a kaleidoscope of beauty, pain and hope. Book size is 8.5" x 5.5", and it includes 26 poems. $15 - currently out of print. Excerpt below:
"I want my mommy."
Plaintive, repeated as many times
as breath and pause will allow.
I shudder, her foolish sorrow
bleeding into prophecy as I kneel
to gaze into the watery pupil
of each eye, plumbing their depths
for the timetable of God.
"I want my mommy."
And I want you, you who have left
my world so early, a three
a.m. departure, when the day
had seemed so close at hand,
pnly a couple of hours off. I try
not to remember the miles I rode
on this child's night-mare of fears.
"I want my mommy."
I reach my arms around her, but she
holds stiff, her child-knowledge braced
against my promises, the faith
I've learned no comfort in this moment's grief.
I have no guarantees you will come home
when this day's work is done. I shall wait
(She holds my hand.)
Fly Free is small book struggling with big personal and societal issues. This chapbook came out 7 years to the day after 9/11, with 11 poems, the first of which deals with how airline security has changed. Those parts were unplanned. This book is 8.5" x 5.5", includes some black and white photography. $5. Available at shows and at Eat My Words bookstore in Northeast Minneapolis. Review & excerpt below:
"You bear witness to as well as evoke a glimmer of transcendence - the possibility of redemption from fear, alienation, hubris, decay, and catastrophe. 'Glimmer' is essential, since you don't lurch into sentimentality or fantasy, even when you directly implore or call forth. That alienation and corruption - the operation of nihil - are foregrounded is what gives your hints force, i.e. makes them evocative."
The Practice of Hand-Binding
"They bind our hands and then complain that we do not make use of them."
-- Moses Mendelssohn, Jewish philosopher in Germany
so, Berlin is calling
Bismarck is clawing at the restlessness in his chest
a million bastard babies are looking for hope
and there is no God
so let us bring Him
bring Him laughing and dancing
bring Him human
now no one will say He is hoarding the wealth
when for lack of a place to lay His head
He leans it against a tree
giant against the starry sky
great tears streaming
fitful dreams full of loaves and fishes
to feed the world
He twists beneath the cover of the wind
we fall asleep counting
bodies and bellies
no prayers to ask for
what we cannot conceive
we wake with hammers in our hands
Land of My Love is a compilation of poems with a Biblical theme. Over 120 copies have been sold, and profits were used to partially fund a trip to Israel in 2007. These poems have been used in church gatherings from Los Angeles to Manhattan to open up new perspectives on old old stories, as well as becoming part of many personal collections. Pages are 8.5" x 5.5", saddle stapled, not illustrated. $10 - currently out of print. Table of Contents, review and excerpt below:
I. Creation & the Fall On Want / The Dream of the Ridiculous Man II. Abraham Hammering the Roses / My Ishmael III. Sarah Last Glare of Sun on Salt: Frozen Like Sarah IV. The Exodus What Is It? V. Nehemiah The Comfort of Jehovah VI. Elijah Elijah’s Daughter VII. Psalms The Fall of Petra VIII. Proverbs Proverbs IX. Jonah Stranger on Deck / Un-borne at Sea X. Jesus No Other Roads / The Middle Thief / Silver Cord Severed / This Moment XI. Judas A Case of Mistaken Identity / Potter’s Field XII. Thomas Thomas the Bride XIII. Paul Paul XIV. Prayers For All the Things We Don’t Say / Maker Man
"As I read, it feels to me as if it's written in blood (to crib Nietzsche), i.e. written from the depths, out of the furnace of experience. Your vulnerability in these poems is striking... Bataille or Blanchot (French writers) talked somewhere about poetry as an 'open wound in language.' That is what Land makes me think of... But (unlike Blanchot,) I also feel its hope. The same contrast I detected in [Fly Free] seems operative here, though on a much more personal level..."
You have come
for I have strayed
the pressure of years not withstanding
the weight of promise
And I have held you in my arms
But now he comes
he comes, at long last
bearing testimony against my laughter
with his own laughter
crisp in the winter air like a knife
Where will you go, my Ishmael?
my one whom God hears
listen to your name, dear one
He is listening even now
He will hear you in the desert
He will carry you through the night
He will wake you in the morning
with a song
I have never heard