THIS BLOG IS NO LONGER OPERATIONAL. PLEASE ENJOY WHAT IS HERE, AND DO LEAVE A COMMENT IF YOU WISH. NORTH CAROLINA'S NEW POET LAUREATE IS CATHY SMITH BOWERS. SHE WILL SOON HAVE HER OWN WEBSITE THROUGH THE NORTH CAROLINA ARTS COUNCIL SITE. I WILL BE SHIFTING MY ATTENTION TO HERE, WHERE I AM, (SEE SIDEBAR)USING IT TO DRAW ATTENTION TO WRITERS WHOSE WORK DESERVES ATTENTION. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT ME THERE. For a video of the installation ceremony, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xAk6fOzaNE.
Go to http://www.yourdailypoem.com/, managed with finesse by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, who says, "Our intent is to make visitors to Your Daily Poem aware of the joy and diversity of poetry."
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Praying at Coffee Shops, by Maureen A. Sherbondy
PRAYING AT COFFEE SHOPS
By Maureen A. Sherbondy Main Street Rag Books ISBN 13: 978-1-59948-108-1 Poetry chapbook, 40 pages, $10
What a thought-provoking collection for a Jewish audience! Moving from the concrete details of Jewish rituals to their spiritual implications, Sherbondy is full of wisdom and surprises – sometimes ironic, often dark, full of yearning for the tikkun olam seamstresses to stitch the broken world back together with their needles and threads. And what a treat, in the midst of the spiritual struggle, to find in the poet’s contemplation of a praying mantis that has landed on her prayer book, one of those rare, transcendent moments when “God’s long fingers are reaching, guiding us toward a promise.” These tough-minded, deceptively lovely poems yield up more of their considerable power with each successive reading.
-- Ellyn Bache
Maureen Sherbondy grew up in Metuchen, New Jersey, and now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and three sons. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Calyx, Feminist Studies, 13th Moon, Cairn, Comstock Review, Crucible, The Roanoke Review and The Raleigh News & Observer. Two of Maureen's poems were chosen as finalists in the 2006 William Faulkner--William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. Other poems have won first place in: The Deane Ritch Lomax Poetry Prize (Charlotte Writers' Club), The Lyricist Statewide Poetry Contest, and Gin Bender Poetry Review's 2004 Contest. Main Street Rag published her first chapbook, After the Fairy Tale in 2006. Her poetry has also appeared in many anthologies. Maureen has had fiction published, has written a novella, and is currently working on a novel.
Praying at Coffee Shops in the South
What are these public interludes with God? Two men at Starbucks holding hands bent over in prayer, leaning into the invisible.
This is not church or temple, but an invasion into my caffeinated space -- these murmurings of Lord, God, Praise Be spiraling into my melodious Sirius radio tunes.
I want a beverage jolt, not a lightning strike of prayer -- Hallelujah, Holy Ghost, Jesus.
My mother said no kissing in public places but here they are -- pressing lips against java-infused air, searching for the mouth of God.
I cut the fish, lift fleshy pink sliver to my lips.
How many sins have you swallowed dead salmon.
Jews toss transgressions into the water.
Breadcrumbs of infidelity Pebbles of lies Pocket dust of indifference
I chew and swallow hope my body stays free
from what I have eaten.
How do we live with our sins that return;
a small pebble caught in the back of our throat.
(Note: Tashlich refers to a ceremony in which sins are cast out by throwing them into a body of water.)
--------------------------------- At the Mikveh, Age Four
For weeks my brothers flooded me with tales of drowning, said the special pool was where young girls sank and did not rise again.
When we appeared at the mikveh -- attempt to quell the swell of non-Jewish blood swimming through our veins, I planted myself upon a bench refusing to budge from my position.
Wanting to live no matter the future cost. In my heart I was a Jew, this I knew, no ceremony could make it so.
Better to stay than to go. While brothers and mother vanished under water and prayers rang out in the other rooms, Alone, I remained wordless, prayerless still and silent as a stone.
AFTER THE FAIRY TALE poems by Maureen A. Sherbondy ISBN: 1-59948-065-4, 38pps, $7 Main Street Rag Books
For years she’s felt awkward in her own girly body, those frilly dresses and skirts, the pink bow in her hair. The sameness of everyday life nudges her into a state of yawn and nap.
Other girls play hopscotch and jump rope, swing for hours at the park while her eyes envy birds and planes, bright balloons released into the clouds. One day she leaves the school yard but doesn’t return home; instead she abandons the small Jersey suburb, journeys into the woods.
When she bumps into a cottage she lets herself in; every open door is an invitation, an opportunity, she reasons. No thought is given to trespassing or danger.
Bowls of Cream of Wheat leave her unsatisfied, chairs and beds in different colors and sizes are not enough to comfort or engage, and the three bears that greet her with huge bear, middle bear and little wee bear growls only bore her.
She tries out other cottages deeper into the woods: the circus people cottage built up in an oak tree, the beaver cottage near the dam and even the tiny insect one. At Kafka’s cottage she is most at ease with Gregor who was suddenly a cockroach. While Gregor waits to become human again, Goldilocks, never comfortable in her own human skin, waits to turn into a golden bird.
She sits by the warm fire with Gregor, his dark thorax sprawled out on the floor, her girly body leaning against his hard shell, dreaming of the day she will wake with feathered wings and fly.
Sleeping Beauty in Old Age
At Whispering Woods Nursing Home mirrors reveal the truth of time, beauty faded into the years. All she wants to do is descend into sleep, but attendants pester her into crafts, jewelry making, flower arranging classes. She has no use for such things. Her Prince died years before, a heart attack while riding his horse across the golf course. The monarchy had ended, he was a token Prince, all title, no power. He left life insurance, but not enough. They never had kids because Rosamond didn’t want to ruin her perfect size two figure. She dreams about castles, and fairies, spinning wheels, but when she wakes all that remains is a sterile room, a view of the busy street, other old faces wheeling by in the hallway waiting for darkness filled with seamless sleep".
I've lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina since 1968, though I'm a native of SW Georgia. My paternal grandmother was born in the Blue Ridge, and I grew up wanting to live here. Where I am.
I've published five collections of poetry, the most recent 4 being with LSU Press, and have published poetry in magazines ranging from The Atlantic Monthly to Appalachian Heritage. But I also hike, bang pots and pans around in my kitchen, and love several dogs who leave fur all over my carpets. I write poetry because it's my way of singing back to the world both within and without.