Volume 107, Number 3/4

Volume 107, Number 3/4

pl10734-lg I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your hand because life is short and you too are thirsty.
—Adrienne Rich

Cover Caption: Suffrage parade, New York City, May 4, 1912. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

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Editors’ Page

In 1912, the women in our cover photo marched through Manhattan to demand voting rights, an image that reminds us how slowly notions of equality have evolved, even in America. For another eight years, half of this nation’s adults would have no voice in a government purporting to be of and by and for the people.

A century later, women’s issues that have drawn broad support in our time are again under fire—reproductive choice and pay equity among them. “Who has a voice in what?” is a question that continues to challenge us, despite growing public approval for expanding freedoms rather than curtailing them.

When suffragettes were filling city streets with prams and placards in 1912, Poet Lore was well into its 24th year of publication. Founded by two visionary women, Charlotte Porter and Helen A. Clarke, the journal was already a leading forum for world drama, poetry, and criticism. According to Dr. Melvin Bernstein of Alfred University, in a definite article about their work, Porter and Clarke were “indefatigable literary people…. Both wrote literary essays, book reviews, study programs, anthologies, original plays, fiction, poetry, and translations.” They created Poet Lore “to fill a void”—opening its pages to world writers (Ibsen, Chekhov, Tagore, Mistral, Rilke, Verlaine, to name a few) and “disseminating in America that shock of recognition we call genius.”

As editors, they regarded literature as a form of action—as we do now. Poets need not be “the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” as Shelley claimed, to make enduring arguments on a vast range of issues, from the intimate to the global (see Jeffrey Harrison’s essay on this subject, page 118). A poet’s authority proves itself within the context of the poem, or it does not prove itself at all.

Among the many persuasive and provocative authorities in this volume are Marge Piercy on the lost force of old love letters; Jennifer Case on the closeness and estrangements of the classroom; Joanna Chen and Brittney Scott on the brother-sister bond; Carol Moldaw and Gardner McFall on the bewilderment of grief; and Samiya Bashir on “the legendary black man.” Conjuring a dialogue between John Henry, steel-driving hero of song and story, and his wife Polly Ann, Bashir’s blues-inspired sonnet sequence enacts an argument in which the woman, not her famed husband, has the last word.

“Who we gon’ be?” she asks—as if of us all.



Aimee R. Cervenka Spill

Mike White Vigil

Marge Piercy Hindsight

Marge Piercy Death on the kitchen counter

Kurt Olsson Afterwards

Lillo Way Marquez Night

Sally Lipton Derringer The Wrong House

Clara Changxin Fang Election Day

David Harris Ebenbach High Street

David Harris Ebenbach Yom Kippur

Linda Dyer Junkyard Art

Brandon Krieg Atlas Industries

Gary Fincke The Irreplaceable

Teri Ellen Cross After Earl Came Home

Kate Sweeney Totem

Gary Lark The Swayback Church

Gary Lark The Bean Man’s Daughter

Christine Poreba A Short Treatise on Loss

Carol Moldaw Varanasi

Derek N. Otsuji A Sight at the Village of the Shibaozhai Shrine Over Which We Wept in Convenient Paper Bills

Mark Belair Bird Boy

Elizabeth Miranda The Instrument

Elizabeth Miranda Not the Fish

Marta Ferguson Quantum Reality #378

Jocko Benoit The Forest of Shhh!

Robin Davidson Braiding

Shelley Girdner Learning to Read

Jennifer Case Why Write of the Students?

Jennifer Case Recognition

José Angel Araguz Jodido

David Bart Ten

Robert Brickhouse Jump

Joanna Chen I Will Always Go Back

Brittney Scott Wearing My Brother’s Boxers

Gary Fincke Fourth of July, the Bomb Shelter

Lowell Jaeger Film

Gardner McFall Veterans Day

Gardner McFall Elegy for a Horse

Julia Wendell 18 Hands

Henry J. Morro The Boxing Shrine

Javy Awan Bell

Sid Gold Bells

Amy Schulz The Phantom Weight of Fire

Tony Gloeggler Mime

Gerry LaFemina The Despair Artist

Julie Dunlop The Plant Waterer Who Speaks Six Languages

Mark Wagenaar Three-Card Monte

Marilyn Chin Costume Drama

Kristin Robertson Mercury

David Salner The Heartbeat

Laurie Sewall Twilight Game, Fenway Park

Andrew Jamison Finish Line

Jason Tandon Later Poem

Mark Sullivan Homage to Ni Zan

William Snyder, Jr. Unidentified Woman from New Jersey

Joseph Ross Confederate Flag Dream #2

Kwame Dawes Cross Burning

Kwame Dawes Roses

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers Négresse de qualité de L’île St. Louis dans le Sénégal, accompagnée de son esclave, c. 1788

Coronagraphy: a sonnet sequence by Samiya Bashir

John Henry opens his mouth

Polly Ann jumps her broom

John Henry’s first real swing

Polly Ann has an ordinary day

John Henry feels fate

Polly Ann fears her future

John Henry tests his hammer’s weight

Polly Ann cuts quick the breeze

John Henry stakes his claim

Polly Ann claims her stake

John Henry crosses the threshold

Polly Ann tastes victory

John Henry gets his big break

Haunting Polly Ann

Polly Ann haunts back


Essay & Reviews

Michael Milburn “Seen Sideways”

Jeffrey Harrison “The Poem’s Argument”

“One Weighty Grain at a Time”
Zara Raab reviews White Papers by Martha Collins, The Undertaker’s Daughter by Toi Derricotte, Honeycomb: Poems by Carol Frost, and Little Boy Blue: A Memoir in Verse by Gray Jacobik.

“Take Five: New Collections from Poet Lore Authors”
Debra Wierenga reviews At Work in the Bridal Industry by Nadell Fishman, Early/Late: New & Selected Poems by Philip Fried, Mechanical Fireflies by Doug Ramspeck, Hemingway: A Desperate Life by David Ray, and What Focus Is by Matthew J. Spireng.