14 April 2008

Every Burning Thing

What better way to celebrate America’s National Poetry month than to read the work of contemporary American poet, Beverly A. Jackson.

I just received my copy of her new chapbook, Every Burning Thing, and I want to show it off. I have always been a fan of the chapbook as a way to sample poetry – just the right size and not too many poems to be overwhelming. This one is beautifully presented with one of her art works on the cover and 24 poems deliciously sandwiched between black endpapers.

I’ll share one poem with you as a taster, but you must add this chapbook to your collection if you haven’t already.

Inscription on Tombstone:
"Angelina Weaver,
Beloved Wife of Chas. S. Boehmer,
Died Oct. 19, 1907
She Did What She Could"

She Did What She Could

In blackest night,
dragged by the hair
along rocky ruts,
marauders take her.
The slice between her legs
distinguishes her from those
who swing their bloody clubs
in her and out. Outside the cave
the giant lizards hear her wails
as she gives birth in fetid air
on hands and knees.

Think of her leap
to creamy skin, hoops
of needlework; shy, blushing
glance with sonnets on her pen.
Once weathered hide now soft
in lace, a grosgrain bow, so meekly
in her lady place. O be thou gentle,
maiden fair. And still, -- be still!
While men-folk stir the air
with wisdom, and the smoke
of fine cigars.

The children flow like milk,
like cream from lactic teats
on any cow. The woman does
what she does best, the men
proclaim. And what's this leap?
She wants the vote?
She wants to talk? She wants
to travel to the moon?

She wants to bludgeon animals
and men with axes in her dreams,
the heads of lizard husbands on
her spear. Alas, her dreams are
not as real as children's cries
and death's quick knock.
This woman - and that -
does what she can.

"She did what she could,"
Charles Boehmer says
to the assembled mourners.
They cluck and sigh. Then
young Elizabeth Morton
curtsies and snags
his reptilian eye.
This one touches me deeply, but my favourite in the collection is “Fish Tale” – buy the book and see why it made me smile. You may also smile when you realize that the proceeds will help fund a trip to see her WWII-hero father's grave in France. Read more about this on Bev’s blog, Action Jackson: The Big Bitch

Purchase Every Burning Thing by Beverly A. Jackson by sending

$11 to Paypal at litpot@veryfast.biz
or by check to:
Beverly Jackson, 102 Adams Hill Road, Asheville, NC 28806

1 comment:

Bev Jackson said...

How generous you are with your support and kindness. Thank you!

I might hasten to add that this poem was first published in Hiss Quarterly
prior to be included in the chapbook.
Credit where credit's due. :-)

I'm so glad you're enjoying the work, and I'm very proud of the job that
Pudding House Publications did on the chapbook's production.