Poetry feature on [adjective][species]

Over on the furry fandom blog [adjective][species], they did their first poetry post last year for National Poetry Month, featuring poems by several poets (including me), all animal- or furry-related.

This year, I’ve been asked to be the guest editor for their second poetry collection (see the call for submissions here), and as part of [a][s]’s poetry posts for April, they’ve featured seven of my animal-themed poems:

“Panthera tigris,” “Grizzly,” and “Lord Tiger’s Answer”
http://www.adjectivespecies.com/2016/04/02/poems-by-renee-carter-hall-day-1/

“Comanche” and “February 1: Groundhog Goes to the FoodMart”
http://www.adjectivespecies.com/2016/04/03/poems-by-renee-carter-hall-day-2/

“The Unicorn at the Zoo” and “Pulse”
http://www.adjectivespecies.com/2016/04/04/poems-by-renee-carter-hall-day-3/

If you enjoy those, there are more poems at my website’s poetry page, and I’ll also be sharing some here in the coming days, in honor of National Poetry Month. Watch this space. 🙂

In honor of the day…

It seems every country has its bizarre nonsensical traditions, but we here in America don’t get to point and laugh, not only because that’s rude, but because we take meteorological reporting from a large rodent hauled out of a hole by some guy in a top hat.

In honor of the utter weirdness of that, here’s a take on what it would be like to be the groundhog in an anthropomorphic world. (If the poem looks familiar, it’s because I posted it here before a few years ago, and it’s also appeared in the now-defunct magazine Allasso, but I figured my newer followers may have missed it, and it’s timely. So here you go.)

 

February 1: Groundhog Goes to the FoodMart

Mrs. Fox, pushing her cart
in her best Sunday dress, string of pearls
at her red throat, reminds him
of the tenderness of spring chickens,
gives him a smile, white and sharp.

The Rabbit family crowds the cereal aisle.
As he chooses a plain cylinder of oatmeal,
Mother Rabbit says hello, steers the small talk
toward the petunias she’s planning
to brighten up the burrow,
the rows of cabbages and carrots
Father’s mapping out for the field.
The kits tug on Groundhog’s overalls, eyes bright,
whispering to him, one more snow,
one more afternoon of sledding, one more fort,
one more snowbunny with mittens for ears.

Sleepy-eyed Bear shuffles in, only nods
when anyone speaks, gets in line
with a quart of milk and a canned ham.
His bleary gaze meets Groundhog’s,
and he adds a can of coffee, economy size.

Groundhog waits in line, stares at the tabloids
while the chattering squirrel cracks gum
and rings up the shoppers ahead.
He feels their eyes on him, all watching as if
he could melt the gray slush outside with a glance,
could give them warmth and new life on a whim.
Even in this harsh fluorescent light,
he will not look at his feet.

 

Poem: “Some Poems”

Some Poems

Some poems are custard,
simple, slipping
down the throat.
Some are a sip of strong tea,
a swallow of rum.
Some are hard bone
to scrape the teeth against,
marrow you can scent but never
break to taste.
Some are gristle and fat,
sit uneasy, questioning.
Some are delicate meals
served in a single bite.
Some look good — a spray
of garnish, a drizzle of sauce —
but taste like air.
Some are stones
to suck on, just to wet
the mouth.
Some are stones to swallow.

 

Poem: “The Unicorn at the Zoo”

The Unicorn at the Zoo

 

They put it among trees and rose bushes,

ringed a dry moat with an iron fence.

They’re still not sure if it’s

male or female; the ultrasound

goes to static and freezes every time.

They tried to test its blood,

but the silver serum in the tube

swirled and shimmered into nothing.

They held a contest to name it anyway,

and a third-grader won with Moonflower.

Tourists gather at its enclosure with

strollers and cameras,

whinny at it like a horse,

hold their children up to see.

In their snapshots, it is only

a vague white blur, a bit

of pearly horn here, a hint

of cloven hoof there.

The gift shop has no postcards of it,

but the plush horned ponies sell out every week.

The keepers aren’t sure what it eats.

Some say the flowers, but they’re untouched.

Some say water, some say air.

Some say love, but they’re laughed at

by people who feel guilty for it afterward.

The keepers hold somber meetings

with scholars and art historians.

Every day they worry it seems a bit thinner,

its coat a touch paler, more translucent.

The words on the sign at its enclosure

are starting to fade.

Sometimes the zoo director stands

before it in his three-piece suit,

slow tears tracing the lines of his face.

Some say he’s only thinking about

the money he might lose.

Others aren’t so sure.

 

 

          -Renee Carter Hall

 

Signal boost: Disabled Poet Seeks Healthy Macbook

Awesome person who also happens to be an awesome poet had something lousy happen to her, and here’s a chance to help restore balance to the universe by contributing to making something good happen for said awesome person/poet. Best of all, the donation perks are poems custom-written just for you:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/disabled-poet-seeks-healthy-macbook/x/1631391?c=home

I know that psychologically it’s probably hard to feel like contributing to a funding campaign when you can see that the goal has already been reached. Do keep in mind, though, that in this case, the goal was only half the cost of a new computer, and personally I’d like to see it get a lot closer to the full cost. (Besides, custom poems, people! Textual art that did not exist before in the entire world! How cool is that?)

Which reminds me that I still need to decide on my favorite season… (Whatever it is, it’s definitely not this bizarre hybrid winter/spring/sprinter/wring thing we’ve been stuck in for the past several weeks.)

 

Poem: “Waking”

While fiction is my main medium these days, every so often my muse tosses me a poem. This may actually be the first prose poem I’ve written (unless you count some of my flash fiction pieces, which I really don’t).

Waking

The bird feeder is pulverized — shards of plastic, bent wire. I imagine your weight on it, your claws on the metal oak leaves, your glossy doggish coat, the hump of your shoulders, pressing down hard. I look for tracks, but there are none. You came in the night, in the moonlight of a wavering spring, and in the night you moved on. How many other worlds move through our coffee-and-timecard lives — around, above, beneath? We might think we’re the center of this orbit, and most days we’re allowed to believe it — until the sight of you strolling past the woodpile, as we might drive to the grocery store, a worn-down path. As if this house is at the bottom of the sea while we sleep, shapes darting in the darkness past the windows, great forms looming in the deep.

 

Remembering Mr. Rogers, ten years on…

I was reminded by a tweet today from the blog Letters of Note that Fred Rogers died 10 years ago today. (The tweet linked to a couple of very sweet letters he’d sent to a family back in 1990.)

As usual with anniversary-type dates anymore, it seems both not that long ago, and longer, at the same time. So I dug back into my ancient Works files and found the poem I wrote that year, and thought I’d share…

 

Elegy for a Neighbor

Fred Rogers, 1928-2003

 

He’s coming through another front door now,
exchanging that blue sweater for something finer,
hanging it up with the rest of his earthly form,
though I hope he somehow keeps the sneakers,
still tosses one from one hand to the other
where the music ripples in delight.

The Neighborhood of Make-Believe is in official mourning,
their king laid to rest, the trolley still,
Picture Picture solemnly dark.
He will not be back, now, when the day is new.

I remember watching him again
when I was first on my own–
the apartment’s cable hadn’t been hooked up,
PBS and daytime talk the only options,
so I watched him while I ate lunch and thought
how much he was like an old family friend,
that adult who didn’t wave you away
with “you’re too young to understand,”

a little, really, like we think of God,
benevolent, comforting, loving his neighbor.
He didn’t even know my name
but liked me just the way I was,
told me it was okay to feel the way I did,
that everyone felt that way sometimes:
angry, sad, jealous, confused.

It’s okay, then, to feel the way I do now.
Dawn has been only gray and cold,
but I turn away from the news
and stand to look out into the morning.
Snow covers the houses
like a child’s beloved blanket.

It is the beginning
of another beautiful day.