An Anthology

Anthology - What I Want From You




Poets in Season Spring 2008 VOL. 4 NO. 1


Poetry in Spite of Itself

A Column by Marvin R. Heimstra

Hot-Line to Heart!

I wanted to celebrate those rare lines of poetry that blow the lucky reader’s heart to a sidewalk café on top of Mt. Parnassus.

Where would I find such literary dynamite? Was I a dreamer? My search was less than successful until I opened the radiant 2006 anthology What I Want From You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets, skillfully edited by Linda Zeiser and Trena Machado for Raw Art Press.

Every poem cradles lines that struck my heart and shot me to the summit for a latte. Machado’s “Publisher’s Note” explains:

What is wanted? The what is the doorway
between the poet and the reader. These poems
establish that connection at the level
of desire, the heart, of struggle…at the
level of living.

Lee E. Arellano’s “Brown Angel” is her muse, moving across the dance floor of her heart and her entire life. The poem begins:

Brown angel, you are dancing corridas, baile folklorico,
And cha cha cha all over the dance piso of my Corazon.
How can someone love anyone so much for so long?

From Start to finish the poem fills the reader’s heart with the joy and love found in a dazzling relationship.

A difficult life journey nurtures a poet’s power of expression. Annette M. Berkobien (who died at age 33 in March, 2006) leaves us this poignant and powerful affirmation in “I, Annette, Kiss FEAR,” which begins:

Within this moment
          this second
              this slither of time
                           with complete

Each poet in this collection is presented with a succinct and finely crafted biography that speaks to the poems included. Tesa Rigel, who has made a triumph out of a life grounded on child abuse and violence, speaks directly from her heart to the reader’s heart. The poem “has anyone seen my childhood?” becomes an indelible request:

It was taken from me a long time ago
I am an adult now

But I would still like it back

Dearest to the heart is the beloved; this intrepid anthology is jammed with poems that generously share the spectrum of romantic love with the reader. Beatrice Ilana Lieberman’s contribution is a sublime untitled poem that begins:

why does
your hand
reach deep
into darkness
of you
as a wild bird
the cage
of my bone

RedHorse Woman’s “after you sit” is as magnificent as it is understated: a tangible and elusive joy of love. The reader is thrust into a scene:

moments after
goodbye i
return almost
invisibly the
back of
your chair
smells like grass
your seat stays
warm a picnic
blanket in June

My favorite poem in What I Want from You is Patricia Edith’s “While I Watch Her Marry Him” which turns loss into resplendent beauty. It would win all the Grammies as a country-western song—and break all records for beer sales. The poet whips despair, humor, sensual arousal, and the cosmos into one hot five-stanza poem

For her I wear green velvet
sliding like a tongue against my skin
hanging sad as moss but unlike moss
it will only last for this one evening
while I watch her marry him.

Among countless delights, this anthology contains not one but two poems about the writer and that writer’s love: another writer. Donna M. Lane proclaims with the title “I Want My Hand In This Poem” the intensity of involvement the poet must undertake. Here’s an excerpt from the middle section of this long poem:

          …I want to create new continents
and make ignorance go to sleep I want my orgasms
in this poem and every beautiful person I have ever seen
walking by I want to hold your attention until it becomes
my concentrated sweat my real blood and we know
each other better than our own hands I want your dreams
in my own I want to know your names I want you to answer
my poems with better ones I want to touch you in this poem

And, from the final couplet:

I want to make this as important to you as your fingerprints
glowing on everything you know you touched including me.

In “Doppio” Cassandra Bramucci welcomes the reader into the creative space she shares with another writer. Relish the first stanza:

                                       We both write best
     when our bodies touch.
     The fidgety scrape of your pen is
               aphrodisiac to my muse,
               a sympathetic vibration that sets
       my muscles and mind to right.
                                       Just so, you say
     my tap tap tap—
               an annoyance in any other career—
     eases your reflection like ripples in a mirror.

and the third stanza:

                                        And, by the way,
     how is it that our plots
               never converge, our characters
               never cross paths, or do they
     wander away while we sleep
     and dance with the cats in the hallway?
                                        Perhaps that explains the
     missing leftovers,
     strange noises at night.
     I thought we had mice.

I’ve mentioned work from just 8 of the 42 close-to-the-heart poets in this valiant anthology. What I Want from You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets is a sacred book, crafted to instruct the reader about loving and being alive. Life distilled into poetry transcends all—and never more so than in this book, a must for any poet’s library.

[The poems in this column are from What I Want from You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets, edited by Linda Zeiser and Trena Machado (Raw Art Press, Pittsburg, California: 2006) 146 pages, 118 poems, $14, www.rawartpress.com.]

an image of the review as it was published


back list books >


Experimental Prose Series

Catalogue - Books in Print


Back List

Book Reviews

Publishing Services

Friends of RAW ArT PRESS