From The Editors
Moonstone Remembers Louis McKee
Remembering Louis McKee
Louis McKee (07/31/1951 – 11/21/2011) was an American poet and a fixture of the Philadelphia poetry scene from the early 1970s. He was the author of Schuylkill County, The True Speed of Things, and fourteen other collections. More recently, he published River Architecture: Poems from Here & There 1973-1993, Loose Change, and a volume in the Pudding House Greatest Hits series. Gerald Stern called his work “heart-breaking” and “necessary,” while William Stafford has written, “Louis McKee makes me think of how much fun it was to put your hand out a car window and make the air carry you into quick adventures and curlicues. He is so adept at turning all kinds of sudden glimpses into good patterns.” Naomi Shihab Nye says, “Louis McKee is one of the truest hearts and voices in poetry we will ever be lucky to know.”
Send us a poem
Deadline for submissions: November 12, 2021
Program: November 21, 2021
Anthology Submissions: Please submit a poem pertaining to the Remembering Louis McKee anthology/reading.
Please limit your submission to one poem. Please keep this poem limited to 35 lines total. When determining the total line length for each poem, include spaces between stanzas (ex: a poem of 5 couplets would equal 14 lines). Numbers or section breaks should also be included as lines when calculating the total line length. Count an epigraph as 3 extra lines. A line that has more than 60 characters (including spaces and punctuation) should be counted as two lines of your total line count. If lines are staggered like a Ferlinghetti poem, estimate the width of the line and remember that the final book will be printed in 11 point Times New Roman font on pages that are 4 inches wide.
If you have a problem contact Larry Robin @ email@example.com or 215-735-9600.
Deadline for submissions: November 12, 2021 – Submit @
Covid 19 2020 – A Poetic Journal by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri
The Chapbook is available here: https://moonstone-arts-center.square.site/product/sahms-guarnieri-diane-covid-19-2020-a-poetic-journal/294?cs=true&cst=custom
What Others Say:
As sobering as Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, when the Bubonic Plague devasted London, Diane Sahms-Guarnieri’s, Covid-19, 2020 is a grim recounting of the horrible year through which we have just lived.
Starting with the ironically named “March Madness” section, a term that usually refers to the annual NCAA basketball tournament but so succinctly captures the mass disorientation, like “a sci-fi movie, yet real,” as she notes on 3-23-2020, the journal proceeds through April, the cruelest month, mixing death and rebirth in its stew of life, into the horrific summer of 2020 –
185,000 dead in the United States by Labor Day – and into fall/winter with the mounting dead, the glimmer of hope that a vaccine may soon be available. The collection ends on New Year’s Eve, over 350,000 Americans dead under the chaotic leadership of the Trump administration, the most of any nation in the world. Along the way, as if the pandemic were not bad enough, Sahms-Guarnieri addresses the social turmoil that tore the country apart, the racial injustice that spawned BLM.
—Charles Rammelkamp, author of Ugler Lee and Mortal Coil
You can get the chapbook here: https://moonstone-arts-center.square.site/product/sahms-guarnieri-diane-covid-19-2020-a-poetic-journal/294?cs=true&cst=custom
New From Our Book Review Editor
Poems of the Pennypack – (Moonstone Press)
g emil reutter’s Poems of the Pennypack has just been released by Moonstone Press. The chapbook captures the respite the park provides to residents from the bustle of city life, reutter’s affinity for the park and the nature that thrives in it.
What Others Say:
Poems of the Pennypack is a forthright book, which reflects a lifetime of exploring a place and one’s self in relation to that place. The poems have a quiet clarity as the book becomes both guide and map. g emil reutter writes, “Beauty and violence of nature in plain view / in this nature sanctuary of Philadelphia / called Pennypack.” Reading the poems now in the spring of 2020 readers may find some of the solace they have been seeking and noticing again in nature. As reutter writes, “nature has reclaimed it, meadows, forest and wildlife are abundant.” There is always more to explore, but there are no pyrotechnics. The book is direct and unselfconscious and the poems keep hitting closer and closer to home. -Thomas Devaney
On Line at : https://moonstone-arts-center.square.site/product/g-emil-reutter-poems-of-the-pennypack/221?cs=true%20
Now available: The Pennypack Environmental Center, 8600A Verree Road, Philadelphia, Pa. 19115.
Summer Reading Recommendations
We arrive at the beginning of June with our summer reading recommendations based on readership of reviews from January 1st to June 1st.
The Damages of Morning by J.C. Todd
Edju By RW Spryszak
What It Might Feel Like to Hope by Dorene O’Brien
Shame by Iris N. Schwartz
The Seas Are Dolphins’ Tears By Djelloul Marbrook
Playground by Joe Benevento
A Path to Grace- The Trinity in Words and Images by Frank Champine
Says the Forest to the Girl by Sally Rosen Kindred
Blue Lyre by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
A Brief Biography of My Name by Yalie Kamara
The Damages of Morning by J.C. Todd
By Diane Sahms-Guarnieri
J.C. Todd’s chapbook, The Damages of Morning, has been written to remind us of the horrors of the World Wars. You can’t escape it! Page after page, poem after poem, you are reminded of the terror; of the desolation; of the lost lives; of the inhumanity of war. Hell on earth.
Todd steps in (as time traveler) with her meditative, yet explosive poems about these silent horrors; perhaps her eleven poems (one of which is five parts) more like snapshots, each a poetic narrative of a frame-frozen moment captured in the history of wartime. She has gathered these poems (as photos) for you, through the lens of research and discussions with her students, and ultimately in her own silent musings of war and its fall-out.
These tragedies appearing understated on the silent page are nothing of the sort. For instance, in the poem “Pylimo Gatvė, Vilnius” (Gatvė: street in Lithuanian) we have the seemingly silent, giving fruits of nature, “the chestnuts” that “no one stoops now to gather.” So, at once you may think of starving women wanting to pick up a few chestnuts to eat later, but to do so, they would be taking a chance. But what kind of chance or risk, might they be taking?
“…In the midst of this history / imprinted in stone, along a street that bordered / Ghetto 2, the chestnuts fan their boughs / and bloom, the leaves brown and droop, the nuts / fall and no one stoops now to gather them / as women did then, slack shouldered and starved / to the pith of their bones, returning under / guard from the fields or factories, passing / through the gate into the ghetto each night, / the burning question, did Shulamith / or Menke make it through the day. They risked / the boot, the rifle butt, the bullet, to scoop up / a few russet shells. Horse chestnuts… Eat, it’s food.”
Raw horse chestnuts are toxic, that is, the fresh, unprocessed seeds contain esculin. Therein lies the rub. These desperate and starved women risked death every day. Chestnuts are healthy for the body, but not horse chestnuts, as they may cause death, if eaten raw. So, the question the poem presents to these women and to the reader as well, would be: Is it worth staying alive “to work one more day for the Germans” and “to want to outlive the war?” Knowing that physically outliving a war doesn’t necessarily mean that you can ever “outlive your sorrow or your death.” Here, “your death” as in a kind of living death, meaning that you live through each and every day physically starving, but worse than that you are already dead on the inside (inside your mind) living inside this captive life. Maybe, this is what Todd is saying, yet not saying at the start of her poem by cleverly using “chestnuts” and ending with the deliberate “horse chestnuts;” and the eerie lines that lead the reader to the end, “An act of will to chew and swallow, / to say to yourself, Eat, it’s food.” Food, no doubt to escape. As in the burning question: “Did Shulamith or Menke make it through the day?”
Dismal / dark. Horrific times. Even in “Country Living” there is:
“…the man-plowed fields of one-cow farms, /holdings that yield enough to keep the body / Alive, not more… Here, winter last for twelve months, / the rest of the year is summer.”
Another poem “Flayed,” metaphorically hints at the flaying of the speaker’s “my Oskar” and his “flapped open” vest and that of the flaying of a spring hare:
“…the night they took him into the forest. / Sternum cracked, yanked out with ribs attached, lifted into a cast iron / pot, laid on a bed of early greens and sorrel for a sour stock tomorrow.”
Subtle, the metaphor of Oskar, as the “flayed,” or not so subtle. On first read the poem leans more imagistically toward the preparation of “this one a spring hare. Not fat enough” with all of its crude culinary skinning and butchery, “the meal for today.” Yet, on a closer second read, here, is where Todd’s craft is perfected. With no explanation, Oskar, no doubt, the hunted game for the death pot, cast iron, no less. Hunted and killed by the Germans as predators, upon the helpless prey. What really struck me was Todd’s choosing of the German name “Oskar” and how closely it resembles the word, “hare,” and also (intentionally or not) how ironically Oskar as in Schindler, the German industrialist (from the movie Schindler’s List), credited with saving the lives of over a thousand Jews. Deliberate or not? I think Todd’s choice.
There’s so much more to “Flayed,” but for the sake of space, I will return to Oskar and touch on the wonderfully crafted, double (quiet) meaning of the line (quoted above, yet worth repeating): “laid on a bed of early greens and sorrel for a sour stock tomorrow.” Yes, our Oskar and hare laid out (in death) on natural “greens and sorrel” and the sourness of it all, when death is felt more on the morrow. And a line from the last stanza:
“…They took the chickens, eggs, the cow, the pretty girls, the men.”
Those living day to day, working for the Germans, lived in their own trenches of fear, starvation, and daily despair. Also, apparent in Todd’s succinct, poetic accounts of war’s abuse: “Daughter,” “Mother,” women, men, unborn, and children, all of the preyed upon and their predators (Doktor and “Commander”). This cast of characters caught in the ugliness of hellish war, as it tore apart basic fibers, scourged human-essence, and demeaned dignity of those whom should have been spared, yet made to endure the crippling torments of bare bone survival: cruel, non-sacred war.
Every page a reminder of “Not our lives, but lives / of the dead, escaped / into us. Grave, / we open to them.” J.C. Todd makes your gut wrench, brands you mind with horrific images—lest we grow too comfortable; lest we forget that freedom comes at an extremely high cost; lest we stop listening to the voices of all whom suffered cruel injustices, the brutalities of wartime. Beware: some of these same atrocities happening, even now, on “Earth.”
You can find the book here: https://squareup.com/store/moonstone-arts-center/
Diane Sahms-Guarnieri is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently The Handheld Mirror of the Mind (Kelsay Press, July 2018) and Images of Being; Light’s Battered Edge; and Night Sweat. She has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Many Mountains Moving, Indiana Journal, among others, with poems forthcoming from Sequestrum Journal of Literature and Arts. She is poetry editor at North of Oxford, an online literary journal. Visit her at http://www.dianesahms-guarnieri.com/
Recently Received Books
Crime Fiction- Time Will Break The World by Aaron Jacobs- Run Amok Press
Fiction- Secret Agent Gals by Richard Gid Powers- Livingston Imprint
Like The Appearance of Horses by Andrew Krivak – Bellevue Literary Press
Memoir- Secret Harvests by David Mas Masumoto – Red Hen Press
Novel- Ravage & Son by Jerome Charyn -Bellevue Literary Press
*Books no longer appearing on this list have been reviewed, were sent out for possible review. Those not picked up have been donated to little free library locations or local charitable thrift shops.