The Fortunate Islands, by Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Marick Press, Copyright, 2007, 92 pages.
Mystery Schools by Bruce Mackinnon
Washington Writers' Publishing House, Copyright, 2007, 69 pages.
Two Reviews by Ernie Wormwood
Reading the poems in Susan Kelly-DeWitt’s The Fortunate Islands is a trip into the interior child, woman, man, and human for the truth.
I believe in the way a bee enters a Rose
of Sharon with its whole gold dollop...
so sexy, so sad and then in Bad Blood
“What did I know — a child of four
with sluggish bones, rickety
We know the helplessness yet omniscience
of the four-year-old. This is the poet bearing witness.
Here’s a poem about all of us for all of us:
Poem for a Woman Found Dead Along Interstate 5
She wears the same thin nightgown
over her soul that we do, the same poor
blood. For two hours the traffic rushes past
her body face down in the weeds,
her fingers hooked in the diamonds
of a cyclone fence, as if in death
she could pull herself up and walk away.
For two hours, the commuters speed past
her underpants pulled down around her thighs—
some are shaving, listening to radio talk
shows, putting on lipstick, speaking into phones.
Underneath her torso feather silver
poppy leaves push through gravel,
called forth by the great cycles. Birds
of the fields rise over her, singing
again. Somewhere someone dear --
a mother, a sister, a lover, a friend – is waking
to her absence, is calling her by name
while her puzzled ghost, still wearing
its unfamiliar posture, its veil of brutal
perfume, is drifting slowly through
the cyclone’s unlatched gate.
So we are the woman and everyone who knew her, everyone.
We see the soul as woman in How Will My Soul Get Free as we sail on
to the Fortunate Islands where one feels that Ptolmey line drawn over and over again.
... I can cross the wooden bridge
in either direction.
And so we are astonished by this first full length volume of poetry from
Susan Kelly-DeWitt and grateful for her vision.
Mystery Schools by Bruce MacKinnon is the winner of the. Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Prize and reveals the power of a mighty pen poised to tell it like it is. We find poems where a little blue gets dropped, a lot of death marches in, and images of friends and father, butter knives and burning rain, come to rack you for night after sleepless night.
The Butter Knife
I’m holding the butter knife in my hand
that my son gave me when he was half my size,
that he worked on all year long, whittling and
whittling until it fits now, comfortably in my palm.
It’s made of ash and is not a thing of beauty...
Bunches of blue, bushels of blue. And if you say it over
and over, rolling it in your mouth, saying blue,
blue it becomes a kite on a broken line,
disappearing in all that blue before circling back
to the memory flowers in your grandmother’s yard....
It’s a day to burn rain in the big pan...
We hold the knife in our hands, as we say blue and blue and blue
and live the day of burning rain.
and by the way,
Did you know that the mosquito
pisses on your before flying away
heavy with your blood....
from The Natural World in Bruce MacKinnon’s kick ass, naming names, some of them yours, in Mystery Schools, a book of poems to churn up that quotidian life of yours.
Ernie Wormwood lives in Leonardtown, Maryland. In 2007 she was the Moderator for the first “European Poetry in Motion” Reading held at Goethe-Institut in Washington, D.C. Work is forthcoming in anthologies Poem Revised from Marion Street Press, and Poetic Voices Without Borders II, Gival Press. She appeared on Grace Cavalieri’s program at the Library of Congress, The Poet and the Poem, which can be heard at www.loc.gov/poetry/poetpoem.html