Idaho Press and Surel’s Place are partners in The Panorama Project that features both professional and amateur artists who are inspired by the pandemic.
This week, we present three chosen from the poetry division.
As a poet myself, I know how difficult it can be to write about the most tender parts of the mind and heart and how we act and react to those things we cannot change. In the ways that poetry connects, to our emotions, to each other, to the world — these poems resonate.
I hope you can take a few moments to read them, closely, to savor and weigh the words — and what lies behind, and is interwoven through them.
The first two will speak for themselves. For the third piece, I have weighed in with my own introduction.
The Poetry Show on Radio Boise will be featuring these and more from The Panorama Project: The View from You 5 to 6 p.m. today, Sunday, May 3.
In addition, visual art submissions can be viewed in online galleries on the website at surelsplace.org/panorama.
A message to a friend
Christy Claymore grew up in Boise and has spent most of her life here. She taught English and Humanities courses at Boise State University, but is now pursuing other endeavors like freelance editing and writing a novel with a good friend. Her two wild boys are the very fiber of her heart, and she enjoys running the hills that surround this beautiful city.
“I have had quite a few rich (even if brief) virtual conversations with old friends and acquaintances in the past month; it’s as if quarantine has caused social media to finally live up to what it should’ve been all along (in some instances, anyway). This poem — besides some punctuation and arrangement changes — is derived word for word from one such dialogue.”
Messenger Message to an Old Friend During Quarantine: Monday at 11:18 PM
by christy claymore
OMGoodness, weary pilgrim. I believe your weariness. And I believe mine.
This life: it’s all surreal.
It’s not at all
what They promised us.
But it is what it is and it is rich, even if I’ve not felt
the full wealth
Catherine Kyle is the author of the poetry book “Shelter in Place” (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019), the poetry chapbook “Coronations” (Ghost City Press, 2019), and other collections. Her writing has been honored by the Idaho Commission on the Arts, the Alexa Rose Foundation, and other organizations. She is an assistant professor at the College of Western Idaho, where she teaches creative writing and literature.
“My birthday was a few days ago, and unlike the more fantastical things I usually write, this poem is very grounded in the real world. It’s a true story. I feel like I’m standing at the crossroads of anxiety and hope right now, and while there is much to be nervous about, I’m looking for things to be grateful for too. Small moments like these are getting me through.”
Birthday During Shelter-at-Home
By Catherine Kyle
The cat, for once, stays on her leash
and sits beside me in the driveway, purring.
I am turning another year older today.
I am stretching out my bare legs. I marinate
in sun. On my left, the spring grass has
already grown enormous. It wavers
like a twirled skirt in wind. On my right,
the dandelion tufts puff out like smoke breath,
exhaled from rounded lips. I have come here
to contemplate, a miniature pilgrimage, so small
it could tuck inside a hollow sugar egg. I have
crossed the tiny threshold from kitchen wood
to hot concrete in the hopes of locating
transcendence. The cat yawns and gleams,
the light warms my shins, and a spider
half the size of my hand clutches the side
of the shed. We distance. We distance. My heart
is thrumming. I picture his leap and his bite.
But I stay here, back against the sliding glass door.
I stay here, watching petals fall like stirred-up
floral snow. I respect his presence. Respect
the threat. A creature known in Old English
as both poison and weaver. One who destroys and
connects. Ambiguous eight-legged cipher.
Oh God, I am afraid in plum-blossom-scented air,
but also, as the pavement glows, peaceful. Reverent.
The spider is part of the scene, but so
is the cat, so is the garden. So am I.
Puzzled by a puzzle
This final poem was written by a young poet, age 10. Playing with sibilance and consonance, and a fantastic rhyming scheme, it lets the reader have as much fun as the poet in the guessing game. But the final line scores in a one-two punch. This might be my favorite of the bunch. — JH
One Soggy Puzzle Piece
by Casey Juliet Church
One little lonely puzzle piece all alone in the rain.
It could be an old woman’s coat,
or a big shaggy goat,
it could be a flag on a big boat,
it could be a bunch of zooming cars
or it could be mars,
it could be a cat or a rat on the floor,
whatever it is, — the soggy wet mess — I bet the person is looking for it.