Wednesday, June 14, 2006

zafusy and other matters

What is it about spring 2006? Several new online litmags edited by women poets have launched spectacularly recently. One of my favorites has a name that just sounds like fun: zafusy. It grabbed me right away by featuring one of my favorite poems from one of my favorite poets on the front page: Amy Clampitt's luscious Marine Surface, Low Overcast. Clampitt has to be one of the only poets besides Walt Whitman who can make of excessive modifiers a zesty art form. Where some other poet trying such a poem would come off as simply over-laden, Clampitt's spin on ... well, just on fog ... is stupendous. So I liked zafusy immediately -- and then I noticed they bill themselves as "experimental." Oh no! I can't submit to an experimental magazine. But then I remembered that one reviewer compared me to Alice Fulton. I had to look up her work and, guess what, she's experimental! But in the most appealingly un-experimental -- that is to say, I could actually understand her poems -- way.

Who cares about labels? And that's one of the things I think the Internet poetry community is able to do well: soften the sharp boundaries between this label and that one. There's too much happening too fast, it's all so fluid, even publishing, that making bins and rules seems unlikely to stick for long.

More on new discoveries soon.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Land of Age

Been there over the weekend. A very cramped place, few amenities, and the price is steep. Had a weekend with aging disabled parents and find myself thoughtful about how we treat our elders in America. I can't speak for other countries, especially those with socialized medicine, but here it's a jungle -- brutally divergent levels of care depending on who you worked for and how much you amassed and where you live. And most good, competent doctors simply have a bin marked "Arthritic, addled elder" to dump you into. In fact, I think they have a prescription so marked. Celebrex for everything. And not much to celebrate.

I don't usually post my poem drafts online, but this was a weekend poem:

My father would have made a good actor:
booming voice, quicksilver moods, ability to forget
one personality as he dons another. Now most
of the lines in the plays he lives are vanishing
he ad-libs from the heart, sometimes with wit.
He forgets the four decades of spite
between them when his sister calls.
He can't remember the no-good son-in-law
I divorced or that he once put the present one
out on the street with his suitcase during an argument.
Are you my son? he asks. Are you
my daughter? Some good things about age
come clear to me in the huge blanks
that cloud our history. I turn
the corner into his room again and say, Hello Dad.