Comments on Frogpond, Winter 2013

I wrote the following comments in April 2013 about selected poems from Frogpond 36:1, Winter 2013. The comments on poems by Susan Antolin, Carole Johnston, LeRoy Gorman, Bruce England, and Mary Kipps were published in Frogpond 36:3, Autumn 2013.

Comments on selected poems from the winter 2013 issue of Frogpond:

        icy wind

        pinwheels spin

        at the child’s grave

                Ce Rosenow, p. 5

The stark sadness of this poem is heightened by its tight music—the short “i” sounds of wind, pin, and spin, the long “i” sounds of icy and child, and the “w” sounds of wind and wheel.

        autumn morning

        the surgeon’s face

        unevenly shaven

                Susan Antolin, p. 6

One cannot help but think that this surgery must be an emergency if the surgeon had to hurry in so quickly that he couldn’t shave himself properly. And yet the poet notices this in a moment of outward focus when inward turmoil is perfectly understandable and expected.

        my hands

        scented with oregano

        church bells

                Carole Johnston, p. 12

A melodious sound punctuates the simple task of gardening or cooking. And perhaps we smell the scent in this poem more strongly because of the mention of sound.

        childhood home

        the oyster shell driveway

        still crackles

                Michael Blottenberger,, p. 14

My grandparent’s driveway had unusual stones in it. I still don’t know what they were. Although I know they weren’t oysters, this poem reminds me of my own personal experience, as I think every good haiku does.


        she gets to be

        a girl again

                LeRoy Gorman, p. 15

This poem is sweet only in a deeply sad way. We can only hope that the old woman depicted here is now as carefree, despite her dementia, as she might have been as a young girl.

        After 2 a.m.

        just this heart

        stamped on my hand

                Bruce England, p. 18

The hand stamp indicates admission to some event, and the fact that it was a heart stamp implies that it might have been a date. Yet now the event—and the date—is over, with nothing left but that heart stamp, worn on the hand, if not on the sleeve.

        from the mountains

        the cooling rain . . .

        I lean on my shovel

                Michael Fessler, p. 25

The task of digging has no doubt caused a sweat, but the poet doesn’t lean on his shovel just because he needs or enjoys the refreshment of the cooling rain. Rather, or in addition, it’s a moment of introspection, of appreciation for an impending change of season.

        nativity play:

        the star of Bethlehem

        loses its way

                Julie Bloss Kelsey, p. 30

A lovely sense of humor here, especially when the star of Bethlehem was supposed to have guided people on their way. This poem reminds me, too, of one of my own: “kindergarten Christmas pageant— / a wise man / loses his beard.”

        writing you—

        the pen

        warms in my hand

                Valorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff, p. 31

It is not just the pen that is warming, but the poet’s heart upon thinking of the distant person to whom she is writing.

        Austrian holiday

        we climb

        every mountain

                Mary Kipps, p. 37

A pleasing allusion to The Sound of Music. The poem can’t be literally true, of course, so in addition to referring to the famous movie, it may also mildly jab at the number of mountains these holiday visitors are endlessly climbing.