Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda

Poet, Artist, Educator

                 

 

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In the Poet's Spotlight for April 2007:  M. Lee Alexander
This month's Spotlight also features the poems of Lindsay Gibson, one of Lee Alexander's outstanding poetry students.

M. Lee Alexander’s work is inspired by her travels and has appeared in The MacGuffin, Litchfield Review, Eleventh Muse, New York CS Lewis Society Bulletin, Niederngasse, and other publications.  Her chapbook Observatory is being released in April 2007 by Finishing Line Press.  Alexander has read her work in Washington, DC, and Arlington, Richmond, and Williamsburg, Virginia.  Some of those readings featured blended performances with jazz musicians.  Her poems have won numerous prizes including Finalist for the 2005 Robert Frost Foundation Poetry Award, Finalist in the Political Satire category of Ireland’s Strokestown Poetry Contest in 2006, First Place in the Herndon Memorial Prize sponsored by PSV in 2006, and 1st Honorable Mention in the 2007 Yeats Society Competition.  She has also acted as a judge for several poetry contests.  Dr. Alexander teaches Creative Writing among other subjects at the College of William and Mary, and Detective Fiction and Writing at The George Washington University.  She resides in Williamsburg with her two cats and two dogs.  (Photo by Jenkins Studios LLC.)

Index of Alexander's Poems: Scroll down or click on Poem Title

FEATURED STUDENT SHARING ALEXANDER'S SPOTLIGHT

Lindsay Gibson, student of  Lee Alexander, was raised in Berryville, Virginia, and educated at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut. Currently a sophomore at the College of William and Mary, Lindsay is majoring in English and Classical Studies. She received the Berger Prize for Poetry Writing in 2005 and serves on the masthead of the William & Mary Review. She identifies heavily with the Modernist movement and has been particularly influenced by the work of T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, and W.B. Yeats, as well as the poetry and prose of ancient Greece and Rome. She would like to thank her family for their support of all her endeavors, as well as her teachers, who have never failed to challenge and enlighten her, particularly Laura Robb, Lee Alexander, Eva Burch, and Henry Hart. In addition to her writing, she plans to pursue graduate study and a career in academia.

Index of Gibson's Poems: click on first Poem Title and scroll down

Poems of M. Lee Alexander (below)  © copyright M. Lee Alexander, All rights reserved.

Origami Lesson

 

After the most exquisite meal at Sakurai San’s house

of sesame steamed noodles and sliced persimmon,

our chopsticks softly resting on the rice bowls’ rims,

their daughter said, Let’s do origami!

Producing large colorful paper squares,

she gave me, the foreigner, beautiful patterned sheets

that shone like gold and red kimono cloth

and kept the plain ones for the hosts.

 

I did my best to follow every fold, laughing as my

clumsy fingers mimicked their expert moves,

but my crane looked more like a pterodactyl,

lurching wildly to one side, bent wings askew.

Gambatte, Try again!  They smiled, but I said

Never mind, his name’s Clyde, he’s had a rough day,

and perched him next to his more symmetrical cousins

flocked together on the low kotatsu table.

When Sakurai San brought out the warm sake,

Mika Chan said now teach us a Western art!

So we sang jazz and blues while making

quilt patterns of the remaining squares,

folding interlocking links to form

Baby Block and Lincoln Log and Wedding Ring.

 

When I must leave, Dozo! they say, handing me a parting gift

of round sweet mikans fresh-picked from their garden tree.

And don’t forget Clyde, your first origami friend.

But I reply, Keep him please, he likes it here.

Then come, they say, we’ll walk you partway back!

 

So we crossed the rain-washed stone path home

strolling along the tea fields’ sculpted rows

under an incandescent moon and piercing stars

we let our silence speak our hearts’ deep thoughts.

Finally they waved and bowed good-bye,

handing me their most majestic crane, said

Here, please keep her, her name’s Heiwa.

And as I turned reluctantly to go I felt

that were I but to hold that folded bird above my head

and point its perfect arched neck toward the sky, that I could

just on the strength of those thin wings of paper,

lift my feet from off the ground

and fly.

 

Back to Alexander's Index

The Bicycle Bells of Beijing

 

The first week I’m there that’s all I hear

The sea of bicycles moving in constant

Waves across the unmarked streets,

No stoplights, no traffic signs, bells

Ringing constantly, I can’t discern the rules.

 

So when Li Ming takes me to the bird market,

At the first broad open crossroads I ask

In clumsy syllables, “She zou?  Who goes?”

And smiling she replies, “Dajia zou!  Everybody goes!”

And so we do, merging and swerving into

The flowing cross-streams of cycles and bells,

And somehow for her a smooth path parts

And she is gone, blending into a sea of green jackets

And bobbing heads of gleaming black.

 

But in this wilderness I am the Egyptian,

The green sea does not part for me.

I halt and start and stop in the mass of bells

As Li Ming sails gracefully from sight.

 

Graciously she waits until I catch up, breathless,

Blushing, unsure how to signal my approach,

I ask “When ring? Shemme shehou da-ling?

And she answers, “Always ring! Do da-ling!

And as she glides forward, smoothly, easily,

Li Ming laughs over her shoulder,

Bu-ting de da-ling!  Never stop ringing!”

 

And so I try it, sounding not for sudden warning

But for the shared joy of it, fluidly, constantly,

Saying here I am next to you, so close but in concert,

And the bicycles surround on every side and I am

Lost in the spinning of the wheels and the music of the

Bells, so that three weeks later in the flower market

When a blonde in a light beige coat pedals by

I turn and look like everybody else.

 

Published in The MacGuffin, Winter 2005

Back to Alexander's Index

Round Barn Rondeau

 

 

At twilight in the cold Wisconsin fall

In late October, as the farmland rests

Around the dairy barn, the swallows call

And dart and dip into their loft-tucked nests.

The barn cats purr as in the mounds of hay

In intertwined bliss they make their beds

And horses sigh and shuffle as they sway

Into their stalls and slowly droop their heads.

Then as the full moon rises in the night

And fireflies flicker faintly in the air,

The scruffled calves cry out in sweet delight

To find their mothers waiting for them there.

And as they sleep, these creatures great and small,

The circle of the barn surrounds them all.

Back to Alexander's Index

Rook

 

Last night I dreamt

I kept you safe

In towers round

And turrets tall

I calmly crossed

 the well-kept grounds

By clipped-hedge maze

And gardens rare

O’er drawbridged moat

To castle keep

Then slowly climbed

The twisting stair 

The stonecut wall

The dust-filled air

Lit only by the pale gray sky

From tall and narrow windows

Through which archers’

Arrows hiss and fly

And then I crossed

The marbled floor

The moonlit hall

The paneled door

And deep in round seclusion

Watched your gentle

Breathing rise and fall

And I have kept you safe there

In my dreams

Back to Alexander's Index

Sharing the Spotlight: Poems of Lindsay Gibson (below) © copyright Lindsay Gibson, All rights reserved.

Authorship

 

 

Think of this book you’re writing

not as a dead thing, fishy eyes

bulging between waterlogged cheeks—

 

but rather as an

unborn child awaiting the proper

handmaid, with her towels and

shirtwaist dress, wearing

sensible heels for the birth.

 

Regard it as a ghost, that you have

sometimes caught standing in mirrors,

well-kempt and checking the time.

 

Think of it as an imp that

perches on footrests

to grin and prod as you wonder

how long the afternoon will last,

cradling your forehead between

twin palms.

 

And when you introduce yourself

to your desk, shake hands awkwardly

with the hundredth blank page,

assure yourself that

somewhere within you a length of

tickertape is spilling onto the

floor, written in

Greek or Portuguese.

 

The noise of it has woken up your

muse, a slender youth who stumbles

onstage still unshaven, wearing undershorts,

and lifts his glasses knowingly

to take a look.

Back to Gibson's Index

Crash of the Hindenburg

 

 

The placid, clumsy airship—

we were still wondering how

a thing that size could fly when it

sank like a beached whale

onto the shore.

 

Is it more spectacular to note

that we have mostly survived,

spat out like pebbles

from the wreck?

 

Or to assure ourselves that we

dove into the heavens,

tin meteorites skittering

in our wake over the

surface of the sky,

to search the deep for

hammered silver stars.

 

How will we tell it a hundred

years hence? What will we

whisper to our

flightless children, the

grounded generations?

 

Except to say

we sought what we have

never found in pale crafts that

dipped like the moon over

billowing seas.

Back to Gibson's Index

Odyssey

 

 

For ten years and ten more

I cloistered myself from the

mob, peeled days like

oranges,

 

hovered on the brink of woods.

I watched the months depart,

geese in a leaden sky.

 

Like a widow I covered my

shorn head, sang dirges for

your soul,

 

a crane crying to its

mate in the gathering dark.

 

You were the fallible star

that led me through

sleepless decades.

 

To suitors I was mute as a

corpse. In the blind dark

I unwound, erased the

weeks.

 

I am the waning moon that

swells no more, an

empty glass in the wake of

your thirst.

 

And you—the partner of my

wandering, your

faults are my faults, your

strengths my own.

 

The age has already cast you

in bronze—the children of Ithaca

chatter at your feet,

 

no bard passes your door

unwelcomed—tales of your

exploits exhaust me.

 

This guilt of ours, the

men you lost and Calypso with

kind eyes and nut-brown curls,

 

who loved you as you loved

the myth of yourself,

 

have gone. Only we remain,

the curve of your arm and a

fleet of low clouds

sailing in, gleaming over the

dark sea.

Back to Gibson's Index

Arnolfini and Wife, Bruges, ca. 1434

--after Jan van Eyck  

 

My gown swells, rustling

like gossip, empty as the

paper globe of a

wasp’s nest.

 

Its assertion into the

bedroom confounds your

filmy eyes, and you

 

pat the hollow shell,

mimicking a kind gesture. As if

to stroke the cheek I turn away,

as if to ask—

 

Instead, I offer you my

bare palm, my

sterile skirts that drape the

curve of hips.

 

Your love is like a landlord’s

for his plum tree, full of the

expectation of fruit.

 

And if I compare you

unfavorably

with my troubled, my

tyrannical brother,

never ask why.

 

We are dark halves of the same

half-hour, he and I, we are

twins in a changeling’s cradle.

 

And when he comes to Flanders

some Wednesday just to

dance with me around the room,

 

his lilting steps alarming the

terrier at our feet—

 

what will you say to that, with your

puckered lips? Will you deign to

answer at all?                                                

Back to Gibson's Index

Come back each month and discover the work of other poets to be featured in the "Poet's Spotlight."

 

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