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Entries in poetry (4)


City Sisters' Lesson

Dust clouds hover behind the passing John Deere

I walk with my sisters to the elderberries

Go in a little farther


Janey disappears into the ditch

The dust has yet to lay

Its thick hands


We pick

We pluck

 We fill the potato pot

Our fingers purple with berry-blood


Grandma presses inky extract

Through the sieve

Janey pulls air through her chest


Juice simmers black

Steam coats the windows in bridal lace

The Iowa sun sets


Mama dips Ball jars using hot dog tongs

I ladle tarry syrup

Diane caps each pint with a golden halo


Janey sleeps with a whistle

Life buzzing through a wax paper comb

Specks of chartreuse flutter from her hair


Never pick elderberries where the giant ragweed grows.

©2013 Wendy A. Skinner



Community Poetry

A year-long community poetry project in St. Louis Park, MinnesotaWhat do you get when you mix a love for words, people of all ages and backgrounds, and a mission to celebrate community?

Poetry, poetry, poetry!

Last night I joined over 100 others at the Our Town Favorite Poems Party to introduce the 2010-2011 St. Louis Park City/School Calendar.

Every year the calendar features community artwork. Photography and paintings have dominated it in the past. This year, however, poetry made its debut and what a stunning reflection of the culmination of activities led by our community poet, Diana Pecoraro.

Our Town, Verses & Voices was a year-long community poetry project and celebrated with the selection of 12 Favorite Poems and their submitters at a private reception on July 22, 2010.

Readers ranged from second graders like Quinn H. Whitlow who read his original award winning poem, "Unseen Secrets" where he hides his secrets "in the core of a brick and on the surface of a star," to senior citizens Florence Flugaur and Bob Ramsey who selected Robert Frost's endearing poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening."

A poem and the person who chose the poem are featured on each page of the calendar--a whole month to ponder the words, images, and impressions of each poem.

At the back of the calendar is a community renga. A renga is a traditional Japanese group poem that is shared writing. Each line of the poem is from a different member of the St. Louis Park community that includes children, parents, singles, elders, longtime residents, and newly arrived immigrants.

The renga was composed from lines from residents who participated in one of eight different workshops and were charged with creating lines about our city. Sights, sounds, and smells dominate the language.

I had the privilege to read this beautiful poem with Diane at the end of the program. One of my favorite lines was, "Raindrops talking like the Chinese language-tapping, snoring like bats."

Community poetry doesn't come along every day. It takes people who care, are driven, and are supported by the community at large. The Our Town: Verses & Voices was funded by grants from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Arts Board, as well as the St. Louis Park Community Foundation and the Park Nicollet Foundation.

If you're thinking of initiating poetry activities with a community poet in your "town," feel free to contact me and I'll get you connected with some great mentors!



The Potomac / A Journal of Poetry and Politics

The Potomac CoverLooking for an intelligent and creative read? Look no further! Check out the Summer 2010 issue of The Potomac / A Journal of Poetry and Politics for intelligent, thought provoking, and stimulating articles, reviews, and "Quictions," 8 original and entertaining flash fictions including "The Incident," by Wendy Skinner, yours truly.

The Potomac comes from Washington D.C. just a short stroll down from the Whitehouse and is powered by a highly talented and visionary team.

Charles Rammelkamp edits the Potomac. Drawing upon his Midwestern roots, life on the East Coast, and lifelong spiritual journey, his writing "aims for the comic but occasionally misses its mark and lands in the melancholic and even the tragic (The Book of Life), but it’s always full of compassion."

Rammelkamp is joined by Michael Neff, as Managing/Political Editor and Publisher. Neff's talents and experience as an artist, writer, and editor are numerous and some may know him best as Editor-in-Chief at Del Sol Review.

Contributing editors are Mark Doten and John Kryder and Associate Political Editors are Norman "Honey Boy" Ball, Don "D Baby" Thompson, Mike "Z" Zasadil.  (I love the nicknames and wonder if Rammelkamp et al also have such endearments!)

Here's just a small sampling of what you'll discover in the current issue:

Honey Boy Unmasks The Power Elite, Exo-Political Issues of D-Baby, Homo Economicus of Holland, the Upcoming Cure for Diabetes, Six-Legged Warriors, and MORE.

Reviews of In Praise of Falling, by Cheryl Dumesnil (winner of University of Pittburgh Press’s Agnes Starrett Lynch Poetry Prize), The Second Elizabeth, by Karen Lillis (experimental fiction), Pistonhead, by Thomas Hauck (debut novel), and MORE.

In addition to "The Incident," sample Quictions titles include: "The Madness in the Mothers," by Robin Billings; "The Kielbasa King," by Ryn Gargulinski; and "Men with Single Ears," by Matthias Krug.

Readers can dole out the sumptuous content of The Potomac / A Journal of Poetry and Politics in small bits, lasting several days or weeks as its ideas, poetry, and stories soak into your brain and soul. For writers, it provides a serious venue with an appreciation for commentary on current events as well as literary arts.

The Potomac / A Journal of Poetry and Politics feeds both the mind and spirit. It's worth a visit!



"Prayer of Intercession"

Read and Listen at the end of this post to my poem, "Prayer of Intercession."

I rediscovered my poem, Prayer of Intercession, and have always wanted to share it, so here it is. It's meant to be read aloud and appreciated for its consonants and whispers as much as for the meaning of the words.

I wrote the poem shorty after reading Alex Lemon's book of poetry, Mosquito. His poetry thoroughly impressed me with its physicality. His poetry is thick with percussive consonants and whistling of the letter "s." The poems I appreciated most were ones I didn' fully understanding--they intrigued me most simply for the pure dance required by my lips and tongue.

Lemon's poem,  Rivets delighted me with phrases such as “barbed-wire wind” and “rat-thick pillows.” (52) Lemon’s poem, Corpus gives me a similar sensation with the lines of “scribble love unreadable. My body is sweet / with blasphemy & punk teeth, memories” and “We’ll orgy with shake and grooves / wet whisper—clap, kiss, watch me go.”

Lemon bombarded me with potent and startling juxtaposed imagery. Take for instance this line from his poem, The Xylophone is Blaze, “…On a beach / of violin skins we turned into lightning.” (73) Making the connection of a beach of violin skins is a brain bender. The image at first is impossibly raw for me, somehow almost violent to peel the skin from violins to create this environment. Later in the same poem is the crazy combination of “…lips cowboy tall, / nick-winged & dusty.” (73) Lips, cowboy tall, nick-winged, dusty when combined give me more of an undercurrent of feeling that a real sensory image.

Check out Alex Lemon's most recent book, Happy: A Memoir.

With Alex Lemon's inspirational style in mind, I wrote my own poem in an attempt to convey a highly emotional experience I had while I was an exchange student in Bolivia years ago.

Another exchange student invited me to spend the evening with her and her host-grandmother who lived above a little stationary shop she owned in the center of Santa Cruz. We spent the evening on the concrete steps leading to the flat rooftop where we often star gazed. The alien constellations of Southern Hemisphere constantly reminded me of how far away I was from my home in Minnesota.

By the end of the evening my friend, her abuela (both Catholic), and I (not Catholic) had a heated debate about Jesus, Mary, and God. This poem articulates the spiritual upheaval and displacement I felt for the first time in my life.


Prayer of Intercession


Hail Mary, full of grace

less this tarry black noche-night.

I’m with Abuela, a raspy-voice mole rat,

Mosca-glassing her Rosary beads.


Our Lord is with thee

upon the rooftop, taxis beep below and

Celestial bodies wink above.

The Crux, Acrux, and Gacrux,

point south, to Hades, to Uca Pacha,

earthen home to snakes & cucarachas.


Blessed art thou among women

less me, because I am the Eve angel, the Cassiopeia,

ever opposite of the Crux          —I realize the two shall never meet.


And blessed is the fruit of thy womb

with the redolence of empandas con carne.


Abuela whispers: Madre de Diós, Jesus Christo,

The stars susurrate: Crux, Acrux, Gacrux

In silence, a black void opens and swallows my soul.


Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners

whom Supay welcomes


now and at the hour of our death,

mi corazon, quivers.



Listen to "Prayer of Intercession"