Vignette for Spring
April shakes winter’s hollow limbs beyond the screen.
Poplar branches clatter and brittle in pieces
to lie shattered on the lane. Shun the narcissus;
its yellow coronas trumpet the lie of resurrection.
A lover you will never meet passes by
hair struck silver under the mounting sun.
His gaze points toward heaven. The red of his lips
goes forever unkissed. A mandolin laughs from a window.
Somewhere, a vibrating string snaps to startle the ear.
Posted with permission from the author.
I’ve been wanting to share Joani Reese’s poetry for a while now. I ordered her new chapbook of poetry Dead Letters (which you can check out here) several months back but it took a circuitous route to arrive. Now I get to hold it in my hands and enjoy the pages, full of complex relationships, conversations you’d not expect, dark corners you may not want to peek around, moments lost and found.
I chose to share this poem today — a poem that seems to be of lighter nature than many of Joani’s poems — because 1) it’s spring somewhere in the world (and how I miss the change of seasons, finding myself located this year in a place that seems to have only hot and hotter) and 2) this poem exudes a kind of close observation and mystery that I like a great deal. A poem about spring? Sure. But it’s not what you expect from spring. Look how it moves so quickly from one unexpected image to another: there’s Narcissus, but lurking is that lie of resurrection; there’s a lover but it’s not a lover you can know. And the string playing a spring tune? It’s not Stravinsky but a quick sharp snap.
Thank you, Joani Reese, for sharing your work this week!
More about Dead Letters:
In the new collection Dead Letters, the music of JP Reese’s poetry never strikes a false note. The voice in her writing is always unmistakable, genuine, and penetrating. These poems – and you will keep them close to you – serve as maps for journeys over dark and grieving landscapes. This is a strong poetry that promises and delivers a place, finally, of human faith, of hope under “the arid bone of flowered stars”.
–Sam Rasnake, poet and author of Inside a Broken Clock from Finishing Line Press and Cinema Verite from A-Minor Press
There is a sort of formal antiquity and modern lyricism at play in JP Reese’s Dead Letters – lovers and family, mythology, allusion, and everyday moments so minute that it is only the persistent ache a reader experiences that alerts her of her own transport elsewhere. Reese’s poetry is subtle that way. And powerful. A departure.
–Heather Fowler, poet and author of the new short story collection This Time While We’re Awake from Aqueous Books
Joani Reese (JP) is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Final Notes and Dead Letters. Her poetry and fiction have been widely anthologized and featured in over seventy print and online venues. A senior poetry editor for Connotation Press—An Online Artifact and an annual fiction guest editor for Scissors and Spackle, Reese has won The 15th Glass Woman Prize for her short fiction, the first Patricia McFarland Memorial Prize for her flash fiction, and The Graduate School Creative Writing Award from The University of Memphis for her poetry, where she also earned her MFA. Reese lives and teaches in Texas.
Tuesday Poem is a collective of poets who share poetry on a weekly basis across borders and time zones. At the TP hub this week, you’ll find a beautiful poem by Ema Saikō, posted by Hub Editor Janis Freegard — another poem evoking a season in bloom — plus poems by the various TP collective members. Look down the left-hand sidebar and click on each one to see their weekly contributions.
For more Tuesday Poems, go here.