Poetry: For R. by Lorna Wood

For R.

What do you give a son who died?
My friend let music pour in—
I’m guessing an early Mozart opera—
wit, charm, and feeling,
and he also died too soon.

She put the heartbreak at the center,
a spiral of cold blue stones
vanishing away, though you never 
can be sure—it’s also welling up.

Or maybe they’re not cold, not stones,
because all around is life—
flowers and curving petal shapes—
and the blue brightens,
and the orange behind the spiral
brings forth orange flowers and even,
in the center, towards the bottom,
a bloom of bright red, like blood—
until it’s all one glorious garden
where primordial sea-creature petals swim
among the open flowers.  

In the upper righthand corner, 
unexpectedly, a window opens, 
bordered with pink blossoms.
Inside, the background is blue, 
as if you’d caught a glimpse of heaven,
but there’s no revelation, just another
tangle of flowery forms.

My friend outlined all these intricacies
in gold pen, defining the mysteries
of his heart tangled with her heart,
of notes pouring in and love pouring out.

When this small picture
struggling to fill a void 
was finished, she gave it to me, 
her granddaughters’ violin teacher,
so it could hang in a room 
where children came to play music.

Bio: Lorna Wood is a violinist and writer in Auburn, Alabama. Her poetry is forthcoming in erbacce (featured writer, 2022 erbacce-prize), and has appeared in 2% Milk, Before I Turn Into Gold (David L O’Nan, editor), Angel Rust (Best of the Net nominee) and Poetry South (Pushcart nominee), among others. Her fiction has appeared in Doubleback Review (Pushcart nominee) and on the Litro [USA] Lab and NoSleep podcasts. Her creative nonfiction recently appeared in Feed, and her most recent scholarly essay is in The Palgrave Handbook of Affect Studies and Textual Criticism. Find out more at https://www.amazon.com/author/lornawood or from her blog, Word Music, here: https://lornawoodauthor.wordpress.com

Book Review: “Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow” by Matt Duggan (a review from Lorna Wood)

Book Review : Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow, by Matt Duggan (Liverpool: erbacce 2021)

by Lorna Wood

Matt Duggan has always used his poetic voice to awaken us to the horrors of our postindustrial wasteland, including its roots in historical imperialism and repression, its parallels and underpinnings in our own mythic imaginations, and its vulnerable antitheses—kindness, humanity, the natural world and its independent beings. In Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow, he continues to explore the world we have made for ourselves, but now with more insistent searching for a way out—the “tomorrow” we are all “waiting for,” which, whatever it brings, will at least translate us forward in time. Though inspired by the enforced captivity of the pandemic, as well as our deteriorating environment, the poems in this volume also look backward in time as well as outward, to foreign countries and to space, and toward the future, death, imagined both as drowning and as a celestial achievement of detached perspective. The collection thus acquires an epic sweep. Each poem evokes its own world, with its own lives and deaths, its own traps and escapes, its own rich but fleeting possibilities, yet all these worlds are linked by everyone’s waiting—all the private, public, historical, and naturally occurring cycles of hope and disappointment, the delusory perceptions of progress, the prophetic glimpses of death. The only escape—the “orbit” of death, represented more as a vision than an attainable state—likewise links us, guiding us with its otherworldly transcendence, to whatever scraps of salvation we can find.

            Both as symbol and substance, water in these poems is central to all our mortal striving in ways that call to mind The Wasteland, and behind it The Tempest—“Those are pearls that were his eyes.” From the very first line of the collection, “What flows in the reservoir?” to its final image, “. . . we drink wine in a boat heading to a season in another world,” our inescapable dependence on this life-giving and death-dealing element is evoked as a natural and psychic boundary to mortal projects, one that accompanies us, at least as an image, into our orbital afterlife. At once superseding and subtending us, water, even as destroyer of life, defines our mortality by reminding us of our connections to the immortal, so “our immortality” becomes “a raised plank / hidden underneath / waters we once walked.” Our limited egocentric voyages, wrecked and drowned, are subsumed, seemingly preserving only a hopeful trace that no longer strives, but only exists—perhaps to keep future travelers from drowning, perhaps only as an anonymous sign of our better selves, those that no longer struggle against nature. Similarly, the poetic persona’s experience of drowning in “Eulogy” is also a redemptive epiphany: “fixated eyes couldn’t speak, resharpening what we couldn’t conceptualize?” Like Shakespeare’s (and Eliot’s) eyes that become pearls, Duggan’s are transformed, but instead of alienating the drowned from the world, this fate opens us to a reality that our own conceptualizations blind us to, the reality we can only truly approach in the detachment of death, where we “see the truth.”

While water’s importance to nature, life, and journeying gives it a central place in his collection, Duggan does not short-change the power of other elements and even the most mundane experiences to interrupt or call attention to our destructive cycles. Yes, we are greedy, as evoked in “Exodus,” which ends with humanity nihilistically poised to consume “spoons of existence.” But in this collection, as in Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal, our very decadence is at once a spur to questing after something better and a sensual force in its own right that insistently moves us toward our roots in a mythic, legendary, and historic past, and in the power of nature, both around and inside us. Despite its corruption, life is therefore to be celebrated. Duggan’s richly evocative imagery often does so to the fullest, as in the escapist journeying of “Antibes,” “where a fairy in emerald leads you— / through a spectrum of luminous streets. . . .” At other times, though, images turn in the course of the poem. They transmute characters, as when the speaker of “A Daughter’s Loss” finds his lover’s tears turn his arms into “fragile weights / burning luminous hot tragic flames.” Or they prod us toward self-examination, as in “Caerleon,” where the site’s association with British history and legends, including King Arthur, as represented in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, provokes unflattering comparisons with the present day:

       For if we breathe                                 this wandering air

       What Knight or Angel                       dare speak out for us today?

            Like the “spoons of existence” poised on the way to humanity’s greedy mouths at the end of “Exodus,” the poems of Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow are delicately balanced. Our isolation is balanced by being shared universally; our alienation from nature is balanced by its power inside and outside of us; the destruction of our conceptualizing projects is balanced by renewed and transformed sight; our sensual corruption is balanced by the journeys outside of ourselves that it provokes; our death is balanced by our hope for renewed life. Duggan’s poetry takes us on a dizzying whirl that reflects our current moment of confusion, and, too often, helplessness. But in reaching out to us, touching us with powerful images and moments of insight or empathy, Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow does not simply plunge us into our isolated, solipsistic worlds; rather, it shares them back to us so that we may, however temporarily, achieve something like the detached view Duggan associates with being “in orbit” after death, and, perhaps, some of its wisdom.     

https://www.mattdugganpoet.com/

About the Author

Matt was born in Bristol U.K. 1971 and now lives in Newport, Wales with his partner Kelly and their cat ‘Pablo’. Matt regards himself as a working-class poet and activist with left leaning political views, his poems have appeared in many journals including Ambit, The Chiron Review, Into the Void, Poetry Salzburg Review, Amethyst Review, The Potomac Review, The Bolton Review, Dreich, Foxtrot Uniform, 14 Magazine, Dodging the Rain, Here Comes Everyone, Oxford Magazine, The Seventh Quarry, Osiris Poetry Journal, The Blue Nib, The Poetry Village, The Journal, The High Window, The Ghost City Review, L’ Ephemere Review, Marble and Polarity.
In 2015 Matt won the Erbacce Prize for Poetry with his first full length collection of poems Dystopia 38.10 (erbacce-press) and won the Into the Void Poetry Prize in 2017 with his poem Elegy for Magdalene, he has previously published four chapbooks: One Million Tiny Cuts (Clare Song Birds Publishing House) and A Season in Another World (Thirty West Publishing House) The Kingdom (Maytree Press) and Ten Truths from Wonderland ( Hedgehog Poetry Press) a bilingual collaboration with Spanish Poet Maria Castro Dominguez. His second full length collection Woodworm (Hedgehog Poetry Press) was published in July 2019, Matt has read his work across the U.K. including Greece, and the U.S.A and has appeared at various festivals such as Poetry on the Lake Festival in Orta, Italy, A Casa Dos Poetas in Portugal, the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Matt's third full length poetry collection 'Everyone is Waiting for Tomorrow' will be available December 2021 https://erbacce-press.co.uk/matt-duggan 


Payments http://www.paypal.me/MattDuggan0 

Reviewer bio: Lorna Wood is a violinist and writer in Auburn, Alabama. Her poetry is forthcoming in 2% Milk and has appeared in Before I Turn Into Gold (David L O’Nan, editor), Angel Rust (Best of the Net nominee) and Poetry South (Pushcart nominee), among others. Her fiction has appeared in Doubleback Review (Pushcart nominee) and on the Litro [USA] Lab and NoSleep Podcasts. Her creative nonfiction recently appeared in Feed, and her most recent scholarly essay is in The Palgrave Handbook of Affect Studies and Textual Criticism. Find out more at https://www.amazon.com/author/lornawood or from her blog, Word Music, here: https://lornawoodauthor.wordpress.com.

A Creative Non-Fiction Piece by Lorna Wood : “House of Words”

House of Words

“I don’t understand it. This has to be ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips,’” Mom complained.
	“Do you want me to have a look?” Dad asked mildly, raising his head from the arts news.
	“No,” Mom said. “I’m doing just fine.” 
	A composer, Dad lived in his own sanctum of music, but his second love was language. Each week, he efficiently completed the acrostic, diagramless, or puns and anagrams puzzle, perhaps aided by his habit of completing twelve-tone matrices and writing fugues. Mom claimed the crossword as her territory.
	I was eager to help and earn her approval. “Can I try? Please let me look.”
	“All right,” Mom said, grudgingly. “But don’t get frustrated. This is hard even for grown-ups. And don’t put anything in unless you’re absolutely sure. This is pen. You can’t erase it.”
	I nodded solemnly. There was no use arguing about the practicality of pencil, and anyway I agreed with Mom that pencil was the coward’s way.
	I sat next to her on the sofa, and we put our heads together. “‘Tim’s tune,’” I mused, reading the clue. “Who’s Tim?”
	Mom explained over Dad’s disgusted noise. He was not a fan.
	There was no way around it. Not only was “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” Tiny Tim’s chief claim to fame, downward answers definitively established that “ipoe,” which suspiciously resembled “Tiptoe,” was part of the answer.
	At this point I had a hunch and began solving more intersecting downward clues to confirm it. When I had “heulip” near the end, I counted on my fingers and said, “If you left out the t’s it would fit.”
	Mom quickly counted on her fingers. “Lorna, you’re a genius!” She gaped at me in astonishment as I proudly filled in the letters. Then, groaning, she pointed to the puzzle’s title. “‘Strip Tees.’ I should have known. Though I am a little relieved. I thought this might not be suitable for children.”

	For a little over a year, when I was eleven to twelve, Mom and I worked the Times puzzle every Sunday. It was a break from my heavily scheduled weekdays and a time to bond with her. My linguistic skills always made her proud. When we were stumped by a few empty squares at the end of our labors, Dad was allowed to fill them in. The finished product seemed a testament to family unity.
 	In hindsight, though, I believe the crossword was something else for Mom, part of a multi-pronged linguistic defense against chaos. This battle had begun early. She is two in the earliest episode of abuse she recorded. Around that time, according to her, she taught herself to read, and her scribblings on the witch’s picture in The Wizard of Oz suggest that she knew what the story was about, mulled it over, and saw in the melting witch a hope of relief by the time she was four. At seven, she was sneaking into the fourth-grade library at her Catholic school to read Nancy Drew mysteries. 
	As an adult, she continued to love mysteries, and in her work as an art historian, she tried to solve them: her articles include a reconstruction of the Mycerinus Triad sculptures and an identification of the sitter in Jan van Eyck’s Timotheus. Language seemed an ordering force in opposition to the agony of her childhood and adolescence. The mini-mysteries of the crossword clues, culminating in the orderly patchwork of a completed puzzle, were part of this bulwark against the lingering effects of abuse and her fear that she, like her mother, would develop paranoid schizophrenia.
	Parenting was perhaps the biggest mystery of all for Mom. She pored over Dr. Spock, especially in moments of doubt, and she built me a house of words of my own. When I was three, our TV broke, and she did not replace it. She read to me daily and taught me to read when I asked. She made sure I got scholarships to good schools. When my father had a sabbatical, she enrolled me in a French public school, so I learned French. On long car trips we played “ghost,” a game where players must try to add letters to a word without finishing it. And she and my father read The New Yorker to one another daily, explaining the parts I asked about as best they could. The crossword was another logical extension of her view that words would help me find sound answers to life’s mysteries.   

	Dad also had a serious reason to cling to his words. When Mom and I began to work the crossword, he had recently developed a form of epilepsy in which he would lose the ability to speak for a few minutes. Dad avoided expressing his feelings about this directly. We did not even know about his seizures until he had one in front of Mom, months after they began. But in much later life, when Dad was beginning to develop vascular dementia from years of smoking, he, like Mom, clung to puzzle books and mysteries, trying to forestall the loss of language. Looking back, it seems likely the Times puzzles were an important defense for him as well. 
	Later, when explaining about his epilepsy, Dad would smile with one side of his mouth. “The doctor said I had a scar on my brain caused by a blow to the head. And I think that blow came from a little slipper.” Still smiling, he would lightly hit the side of his head lightly with his hand. The “little slipper” was a high-heeled shoe, wielded by Mom in one of her uncontrollable rages. 	
	A few years ago, I came across a letter in which Mom told a friend during the summer before the crossword time that she was going to rededicate herself to being a good wife and mother. She knew. She fought the madness, tried to work out the puzzle. Still, her rages taught me words I wasn’t allowed to use, words that were weapons. I felt my house of words was a dangerous, unreliable structure. As I finished sixth grade, Mom gradually stopped talking to Dad, except to voice groundless suspicions about his fidelity. In seventh grade, she left, taking a job out of state. The Times didn’t come anymore. New Yorker magazines piled up on tables. 
	When I was in high school, my parents divorced, and while I was in grad school, Mom developed late-onset paranoid schizophrenia. Under its influence, she wrote compulsively, going over her past, apparently to find the seeds of her illness in episodes of abuse and injury, and often beginning fictional mysteries, though she was never able to get far. 

	The cooperative quilt of the Sunday Times crossword was not an effective shield for our family, and, as every good mystery shows, violence and fear cannot be put to rest by a detective’s quick explanations at the end. While I still enjoy a good crossword puzzle, I do not believe solving verbal clues can construct a barrier against chaos and violence. 
	I do believe it is helpful to puzzle over the clues of our own history and use them to guide our decision-making. The answers to clues like “effects of childhood trauma” or “secrets of a healthy marriage” can’t be written in pen in little squares over a Sunday afternoon; they require long study and much revision. Still, the work of mapping what happened to my family of origin and what it means for me, my husband, and my children is analogous to solving those punning, mysterious clues to the long answers in the Sunday Times crossword. Both require cultural knowledge, verbal skills, a sense of humor, and the love and support of a dedicated mentor. All this Mom conveyed to me, and I am grateful.
                               END





Bio: Lorna Wood is a violinist and writer in Auburn, Alabama. Her poetry is forthcoming in 2% Milk and has appeared in Before I Turn Into Gold (David L O’Nan, editor), Angel Rust (Best of the Net nominee) and Poetry South (Pushcart nominee), among others. Her fiction has appeared in Doubleback Review (Pushcart nominee) and on the Litro [USA] Lab and NoSleep Podcasts. Her creative nonfiction recently appeared in Feed, and her most recent scholarly essay is in The Palgrave Handbook of Affect Studies and Textual Criticism. Find out more at https://www.amazon.com/author/lornawood or from her blog, Word Music, here: https://lornawoodauthor.wordpress.com.

Poetry Showcase by Lorna Wood


Poetry about the Pandemic by Lorna Wood


Hearing “Hallelujah” at the Women’s March, 2017 by Lorna Wood  (poetry for Leonard Cohen Week)


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Lorna Wood

Poetry Showcase by Lorna Wood

Three Poems About the Grand Canyon

At the Grand Canyon,
I went right up to the edge.
This couldn’t be real.

Those long lines
in the Grand Canyon rocks
are poems that refuse to speak to us.

When I fell at the Grand Canyon,
the ancient rock wrote a fracture on my wrist.
I’m still a blip—but now, acknowledged. 


Bio: Lorna Wood is a violinist and writer in Auburn, Alabama. Her poetry is forthcoming in 2% Milk and has appeared in Before I Turn Into Gold (David L O’Nan, editor), Angel Rust (Best of the Net nominee) and Poetry South (Pushcart nominee), among others. Her fiction has appeared in Doubleback Review (Pushcart nominee) and on the Litro [USA] Lab and NoSleep Podcasts. Her creative nonfiction recently appeared in Feed, and her most recent scholarly essay is in The Palgrave Handbook of Affect Studies and Textual Criticism. Find out more at https://www.amazon.com/author/lornawood or from her blog, Word Music, here: https://lornawoodauthor.wordpress.com.

Poetry Showcase by Lorna Wood 

Poetry about the Pandemic by Lorna Wood 

 Hearing “Hallelujah” at the Women’s March, 2017 by Lorna Wood  (poetry for Leonard Cohen Week)

Poetry about the Pandemic by Lorna Wood

pink petaled flowers

Second COVID Spring, with Azaleas

A year gone by, another spring. 
Again azaleas appear.
We are still behind our glass walls, 
but now our arms are needle-sore, 
our hearts filled with intoxication.

At first glance, nothing could reflect 
our flight from fear to hope better 
than a bank of azaleas 
gaping at us through our windows,
even more riotous than last spring.

But there is something aggressive 
in these crowded, fuchsia blossoms
growing nearer every year,
something that warns against too much hope.

Their glory draws me, but I stand
helpless before their intrusion,
If they are eyes, what do they see?
If mouths, what are they screaming?

I cannot trust their mad joy now.
Yet later, when they are drooping 
pathetically after a storm, 
I will recall with sadness
how brief their frenzy was. 



Bio: Lorna Wood is a violinist and writer in Auburn, Alabama. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in 2% Milk, Angel Rust (Best of the Net nominee), Coastal Shelf, Escape Wheel (great weather for MEDIA), and Poetry South (Pushcart nominee), among others. She has also published fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarly essays. Find out more at amazon.com/author/lornawood

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Lorna Wood

Hearing “Hallelujah” at the Women’s March, 2017 by Lorna Wood  (poetry for Leonard Cohen Week

Poetry Showcase by Lorna Wood

Bio: Lorna Wood is a violinist and writer in Auburn, Alabama. Her poetry is forthcoming in 2% Milk and has appeared in Before I Turn Into Gold (David L O’Nan, editor), Angel Rust (Best of the Net nominee) and Poetry South (Pushcart nominee), among others. Her fiction has appeared in Doubleback Review (Pushcart nominee) and on the Litro [USA] Lab and NoSleep Podcasts. Her creative nonfiction recently appeared in Feed, and her most recent scholarly essay is in The Palgrave Handbook of Affect Studies and Textual Criticism. Find out more at https://www.amazon.com/author/lornawood or from her blog, Word Music, here: https://lornawoodauthor.wordpress.com