Tag Archives: Joannie Stangeland

Five Tries to Say I’m Sorry
by Joannie Stangeland

Only one year I planted pumpkins—

carriage or shell for keeping very well—

dragged them to the front yard,
left them to grow old and soften

while I wanted happily ever
in the country called leisure,

and I don’t like to travel—but remember

those days after the dash for the airport,

dragging our baggage to carry on,
the small home with the red roof—casita,

as though another language made
the walls exotic—dusk early and the notes

the yellow windows wrote, no grocery lists,
lights rising up the palms, and then stars?

Here in a house where tasks

are meant to add up to romance,

my hands twist, slacken, can’t find
the name for what I want

and it isn’t in the television, the lump
of laundry left undone.

I’ve been hunting for my heart

and revise myself daily, redraft my chapters.

You tell the story you want to hear.

This is the love letter I can send.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 20, Issue 2.

Joannie StangelandJoannie Stangeland’s most recent book is Into the Rumored Spring from Ravenna Press. She’s also the author of two chapbooks, and her poems have appeared in Superstition Review, Tulane Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and other journals and anthologies. Joannie helps edit The Smoking Poet and Cascadia Review.

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Out of Season
by Joannie Stangeland

When I did not move to the country,
I let my lawn meadow,
fevered season like sweat

prickling, trickling down temples
to weeds I could not name,
and pastured on the sofa,

thought back—my first husband,
a hydrangea by the steps
ripped out. Season of temper,

the mercury rising.
What did not survive, and who.
Season of loss

(a small plot of annuals
at the cemetery
until plantings were banned).

Dead head what’s done,
my mother said, to keep up,
but I leave these lace-cap

blooms to dry the winter,
their skeletal filigree
one way to feel age,

another: sore elbow, trick knee,
tight back—how to flower still?
Season of rest

and then the roses—
the wildly green rambling
over dead cane and thorns,

each year harder, drawing blood.
Season of neglect
and one ladybug.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 20, Issue 2.

Joannie StangelandJoannie Stangeland’s most recent book is Into the Rumored Spring from Ravenna Press. She’s also the author of two chapbooks, and her poems have appeared in Superstition Review, Tulane Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and other journals and anthologies. Joannie helps edit The Smoking Poet and Cascadia Review.

See all items about Joannie Stangeland

Visit Joannie Stangeland’s contributors page.

Review of Grayling, by Jenifer Browne Lawrence

Reviewed by Joannie Stangeland

Grayling
Grayling
Jenifer Browne Lawrence
978-0979458286
(2014 Perugia Press)
$18 Paper

In Grayling, poet Jenifer Browne Lawrence invites the reader to enter a world between woman and fish, a realm below the surface where being is swimming, sometimes catching, sometimes being caught. These poems both plumb the depths and trail through the water like fingers dangled from a boat.

This play between surface and under the surface—what’s felt or intuited—is braided throughout the book, starting with the first poem, “Casting,” where “her shadow / swam into a fish / spooled from her reel” and later “her legs refused / to fuse into a tail / as planned.” On the surface, the poet is fishing with her father. Under the surface swim questions of identity and security: “Kneel at river’s edge / if the father you love / has been drinking / again.”

Lawrence skirts the narrative, inviting the reader to generate the connections, to make the story. In some poems, the title sets the context while the poem zooms in on the details. “On the Day of Her Father’s Funeral, Six Birds on the Line” goes on to describe a memory of fishing at age six, “nobody / wading to set her free.” “To Moclips with No Ash to Scatter” etches a shoreline where the one mention of death concerns the firs.

“Whose Hair Swings Like a Wind-Coarsened Mane (prelude),” which lopes across the page in three-line indented stanzas, speaks of a wrecked barge making
“a fine barn when the tide was low

shelter for a foal, beachgrass

bedding piled inside, seaweed pawed and popped”

then asks the reader “Who knew / the track would bruise with blood, / the swell of water draw horses out to sea.” Lawrence lets the images stay open, doors through which the reader can plumb his or her own past, and does not explain the track, the wound, or even the horses’ departure, the ocean’s lure.

Readers can look for clues in “Whose Hair Swings Like a Wind-Coarsened Mane (reprise),” but will find no obvious connection. The poem talks about watching, with a sister, a black-and-white movie of a village girl being suffocated by a “ring of white- / hatted women” who “look down at her, each of them / wearing the same unreadable face.” This poem is set in a narrow prose block, and although prose poems came out of the surrealist movement, this is one of the most narrative poems in the book. The unsettling comes from the title—its relationship to the earlier poem and its mysterious association with the rest of the poem.

Other poems speak of a father, his drinking and his death, of a mother, and of becoming a mother. The sister in “The Sister Next to Be Born” is possibly the same sister in “Year of the Dog,” which refers to “the shirt she’d been wearing when / the driver didn’t stop—.” The reader can create the history of this family or let the images stand or race on their own. Either choice fulfills.
 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 2.

Joannie StangelandJoannie Stangeland’s most recent book is Into the Rumored Spring from Ravenna Press. She’s also the author of two chapbooks, and her poems have appeared in Superstition Review, Tulane Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and other journals and anthologies. Joannie helps edit The Smoking Poet and Cascadia Review.

See all items about Joannie Stangeland

Visit Joannie Stangeland’s contributors page.