Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


MY NEW AUTHOR'S SITE, KATHRYNSTRIPLINGBYER.COM, THAT I MYSELF SET UP THROUGH WEEBLY.COM, IS NOW UP. I HAD FUN CREATING THIS SITE AND WOULD RECOMMEND WEEBLY.COM TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN SETTING UP A WEBSITE. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT MY NEW SITE TO KEEP UP WITH EVENTS RELATED TO MY NEW BOOK.


MY NC POET LAUREATE BLOG, MY LAUREATE'S LASSO, WILL REMAIN UP AS AN ARCHIVE OF NC POETS, GRADES K-INFINITY! I INVITE YOU TO VISIT WHEN YOU FEEL THE NEED TO READ SOME GOOD POEMS.

VISIT MY NEW BLOG, MOUNTAIN WOMAN, WHERE YOU WILL FIND UPDATES ON WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MY KITCHEN, IN THE ENVIRONMENT, IN MY IMAGINATION, IN MY GARDEN, AND AMONG MY MOUNTAIN WOMEN FRIENDS.




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

POET'S FEATURE: unsettled by Jodi Barnes




Jodi Barnes recently received second prize in the Poetry Council of North Carolina's Book Award.   Her chapbook Unsettled was published by Main Street Rag. Please visit their website and order a copy!   I've met Jodi only in passing and have stayed in contact through facebook.   I'm delighted to be able to feature some of the poems in her chapbook, as well as a few new ones. First place winner was David Rigsbee, for The Red Tower, and Honorable Mentions were Joseph Bathanti and Nancy Simpson, both of whom I have featured on this site earlier.  You can link to their features to see poems from their outstanding work. 




Jodi Barnes is a poet and writer in Cary, North Carolina. She has a PhD from The University of Georgia and has taught graduate and undergraduate students all facets of human resource management, ethics, leadership and change management at three Research I universities. She has also been a journalist, an HR manager and a consultant.

When she is not writing, Jodi helps teens understand how group identity (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender) differences and commonalities enrich confidence and competency. She has been a writer-in-residence for Wake County schools for the past two years.




Her favorite author is Tom Robbins and her favorite teachers are her daughters Sarah, Ali and RaeAnna, and her aiding/abetting husband, JB Maddox. Jodi has moved households 24 times--that she can remember.




Denial Lost and Found (from unsettled)



After I lost the 12-week thing
declared inanimate tissue—
removed by gloved hand— 
you mentioned we didn’t
have to have the wedding right away

that first you could move to the coast
that I could come second, find you later
and it was just an idea but I must
have known this was your way
to say let me be unfound.

I tried to forget until our eighth
married year, when you left—
a memory of small, arrested life—
the unviable matter once 
and always between us. 

The ninth year, I revived
what we were not able
to name or bury. 


Holy Magic Goat Shit (from unsettled)



I asked my sixth-grader what she liked about mythology.

She picked Persephone—a damsel lost,
swallowed seeds, a mother's grief,
fascination with hell and frost. 

What do you like? She echoed.
I broke my rule, my language imprecise,
“All of it.” (At least I hadn't lied.)

When she was asleep, I replied:

Hope. The story never has to end 
or remain the same. 
There is holiness in the unfixed. 

Their gods are full of flaws – 
hubris, favorites, fickle laws.

We mortals hold some sway.
They can't resist challenge,
like dads who say, “Go ahead. Take a swing.”

You can get a god's goat – which
eventually shits on you – but it's
god's goat shit, not a pope's.

And wouldn't Yahweh tend toward sheep?

The other thing is magic:
nymphs into cows,
winged horse from mortal blood,
one guy gender-switched, twice!

Can you imagine Jesus asking,
Man or woman: who has more pleasure in sex? 
(But she is eleven; 
that part I’d slice.)

Implacable parent, perfect offspring, 
unshakable ghost in one god
is too much pressure, 
He's too remote.

Souls are never stolen or saved.
Suffering spawns each sacred season. 
And I believe this is true:
The devil only wants his due.

Hera and Zeus, that miserable pair,
can’t keep their distance.
Familiar as family, we know their sins
and those they bore too well – 

Thank whatever god you, my goddess, will. 

The smallest things (from unsettled)



Unless you’re lucky
each box comes furnished
with rattling tears,
a giraffe’s jagged ears 
chipped off your baby’s ceramic arc 
you meant to glue back these 20 years, 
an errant button, two beads of glass,
a photo pass to Frampton’s I’m in You

a matchbook from Amsterdam, 
your Sanskrit name in wood,
resolutions made in Birmingham
and a poem you read when your friend 
chose to leave this world. 
All good intentions come to pass 
like things too small to wrap,
too large to be confined to content.
Work Themed Poems  (2)


ON-THE-JOB TRAINING



It used to be good here, Myrna says,
time-and-a-half, double holidays.

It’s my first week, so I nod my head,
hoping to make rent, see my kids again.

Myrna says her kids came from the same
no-good-never-handed-her-a-dime-

didn’t-want-to-see-his-kids—
now he’s in the ground.

And she looks at me like I could be him
so I smile and tell her I just fell hard

on hard-luck times. That I want to
help their mama with bills

but a man can only do so much.
You can’t bleed a turnip, she says

and I agree. Then Myrna turns on me:
But you can dig a hole, throw in the seed.

She rolls her sleeves, grabs two brooms.
I barely have a handle as she sweeps circles around me.

Straight time and toting dirt, she says,
better than waiting for a root to bleed.


-published 2011 by MSR in The Best of Fuquay-Varina Reading Series 

From management professor to bakery salesgirl


At 5:30 a.m. I drive to work, that place 
I manage to burn my fingertips, schlep bread
from rack to rack, stack croissants, sweep
up crumbs of the bourgeoisie. 

If I were still at State, I’d have two more hours
to sleep, teach them what to pay the masses, 
when to sac them, where to outsource brooms,
how to sweep over burnt spirits. 


-published 2011 by MSR in The Best of The Raleigh Reading Series 



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Last Morning Glory


With so much fiery light filtered through  autumn leaves, I was startled to see this lone morning glory blooming at my window.  Not intimidated at all by the wildfires of autumn.  My first batch of glories died while I was away with my mother this summer.  I replanted, and soon I had my green leafy vines back, spreading over the backroom windows.  I never expected them to bloom, though.

So this small flower took me by surprise.   I wonder what I would hear if I put it to my ear.  It does have the shape of an old-fashioned telephone earpiece or a delicate megaphone, through which a whisper might be heard.  If you leaned close enough.   Like the conch shells on my grandmother's table, holding the sound of ocean in their depths.

The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.  ~Basho





MOUNTAIN WOMAN: PEPPER POT SOUP

MOUNTAIN WOMAN: PEPPER POT SOUP

Sunday, October 23, 2011

DRIVING INTO THE CITY

Lee Friedlander

This poem followed upon the drive into Chicago where our daughter had chosen to go to college.   Thanks to Magpie Tales for reminding me of that experience.


Empty 



                          So tender, I said, “Remember this.
                                 It will be good for you to retrace this path
                                  when you have grown away and stand at last
                                  at the very centre of the empty city.”   

                                                      Seamus Heaney,  “Changes”               
                 


                     Crossing the Skyway bridge
        for the first time, I see what she’s chosen,
       alabaster city  floating clear of my clinging
 as  station by toll station, we drop our  coins into baskets,
         a half dozen lanes running over with cars.

        I forget to look over the railing at lake water,
       bright  sails, I forget everything but my mother,
before the train left for New York,  pinning even more money
   inside my bra, warning:  “Don’t wander  too far
     from the group. Don’t get caught in the subway doors,
 don’t stand too close to the tracks. Always deadbolt 
     the hotel door.”  That was the last year our school
sent its Seniors to  New York.  It’s  nothing but  jungle now
  I hear my  father  say.  Wouldn’t want one of mine living there.
   
            This is Chicago,  I tell him. Not New York.
 And isn’t your grandson now living in Brooklyn?  My father shrugs,
              settles  back into the hum of my own questions.
Where will she live and how far from the campus?  How many
            armed  robberies this year? And  traffic,
               how will she cross streets without 
         being run down?   “Lock your doors,” I say
       as we exit the Skyway.   She  laughs at me.

               Let her.  I can’t let her go without leaving my
    mother’s fears with her, they’re all I can muster right now.
                   We will  climb in our empty car soon enough
    and drive   home without her.   So let us unload  books
           and clothing, her numerous boxes of earrings,
                    my bundles of medicines she shrugs aside
                when I warn her she’ll need them come bitter
                       times.  Icy stairs.  Frigid streets she’ll walk 
                without my knowing where.   This is her city now,
                     let her stand at the heart of it, hearing its
                sirens,  arterial rumblings of El trains
                      and buses.  Its  welcoming emptiness.
from Coming to Rest, LSU Press

Sunday, October 16, 2011

MOUNTAIN WOMAN: SUNDAY FIRE: Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves.... Elinor Wylie And so it has seemed, watching the wind scatter the fiery leaves...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

LITTLE KING

To be monarch of the news,
from Magpie Tales
even a tiny one,
fat-bellied as my grandma,
red velvet snooding the belly,
brooding, brooding.

My scepter behind my back.
I'd stand over the latest atrocities,
the latest punditese (those teases!)
the  faces of political hacks
and their victims.  And underneath
always the crossword. The longbows
of language aimed just so,
my minions, my jongleurs,
my last line of last-ditch defenses.

They say coffee's good for cognition.
A ten letter word with a B,
Z, and T?  And the clue?  A lost
denizen of the Andes!  So drink up,
old girl, I say.  Slurp it down.  Your mug's
waiting for you.  Cuppa Joe,
my main man, my little monarch
of wide awake, can't you give me
more than a condescending frown?

MOUNTAIN WOMAN: GUEST BLOGGER: BARBARA BATES SMITH

MOUNTAIN WOMAN: GUEST BLOGGER: BARBARA BATES SMITH: When I first saw Barbara Bates Smith do her one woman show based on Lee Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies , I was so overcome that by the end...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

MAGICAL CREATURES






Walking alongside the Atlantic one morning last week, I saw how tides had created in the sand a pattern of infinite play that stretched as far inland as the ocean could reach.  Underfoot they massaged my bare soles, that outer layer of my imagination,  and set my senses spinning into the surf itself where anything is possible, the ocean herself the artist, the beach her fabric from which she might raise up the most magical creatures, the ones  we hear as we fall asleep with the window open, the surf's voice singing its caravans of  imaginary elephants thundering like freight trains, only to take to the sky like gulls when we rise from our beds in the morning to look, to verify, to go running out into the  landscape of water kneaded signs, ocean
 language for what goes on underneath 
the eyes of moon and sun, whitecaps pulled to shore, reaching their lacy fingers toward where we lay in darkness, dreaming the earth back to its beginnings, for there is always more than one beginning.  And always will be, as long as the ocean has its way with the sands we walk upon.

(with thanks to Magpie Tales)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Guest Poet: Anora McGaha


Anora McGaha is my featured poet this week, come to spend some time in my kitchen, along with--yes--a frog!  She is fascinated by the natural world, and as you can see from the poem that follows, she finds poetry in it.  She now lives outside Raleigh, a transplanted Yankee who plans to stay in the South.   I think she knows that North Carolina is the best home a writer could have.  Anora gives a brief portrait of herself:

I was born in Boston and my grandparents home in Cambridge Massachusetts was the most constant home I knew. My father was a diplomat, and my mother was half Italian and half American, and the daughter of a diplomat. We grew up moving every 9 - 24 months around the Mediterranean. Studying a little Arabic, a lot of French, some Italian. I majored in Chinese at university, and did my time in the corporate world in Boston, New York,DC and Raleigh, and now have my own business doing writing and multi-media content development for online marketing and publicity. I've been writing poems since high school. I draw from many traditions, and have been influenced by too many languages and places and experiences.

Kitchen Keeper's Emerald

Frog-frog
leaps onto
the back door
window pane
every other night

Brown eyes peering
into the dark
white skinned belly
pressed against the glass

Little finger toe pads
gripping
as if made to belong
on the back deck door

Frog-frog’s pale throat
pulses like a baby
feeding

Waiting
for the flyers
to draw near 
the kitchen light 
slipping out
into the night

Frog-frog
embodies green
spring green
brilliant green
precious green

Exotic as
the rain forest
poison frogs
or the latest jewel-tone
enameled smart car

Frog-frog 
came from Cary
twice before
a guest at the Cary 
back deck door

Kitchen keeper
didn’t know he
made the move
to Apex

'Til
one winter morning
hidden in a pot
under rotting
dark browned leaves
a green as fine
as emeralds

Two years later
Kitchen keeper
left  the shades open
after sunset
and there he was
Frog-frog
on his sitting spot
on the deck door glass

Frog-frog doesn’t like
the camera’s flash
and springs away
like Barishnikov
in ballet

Nightly
Kitchen keeper
peers into the glass
that keeps the bugs
at bay

Hoping to see
North Carolina’s
leaping emerald
Frog-frog

July 30, 2011

Anora's frog

MOUNTAIN WOMAN: Guest Blogger: Julie Brooks Barbour

MOUNTAIN WOMAN: Guest Blogger: Julie Brooks Barbour