Fall 2020, Volume 29

From the Poetry Editor

Fall 2020

We live in air, air that is under siege--wildfires, virus, climate change—and as we contend with this reality, we might ask ourselves where the boundaries of the natural and, as Steve Mueske puts it, “the fashioned world” are? Amid this seemingly apocalyptic air, what connections can still be fused and found in 13 poems arriving from the darkness? “World’s are colliding,” Seinfeld’s George famously shouted, and so it is in this issue’s poetry: the world of human and nature, the world of internet and touch, the world of women and men. What worlds are under threat, what ones are preying on others? Welcome to the Fall 2020 issue of Verdad, which features a review of Julie Kane’s Mothers of Ireland as well as a fiery array of new poems.

Each change of season is a reminder of the natural world, a world that comes through in many of the poems in this issue. In Alina Stefanescu’s ‘Tonight As You Pace the Garden’ we see the speaker observe a “birdbath sprawled on its side” which has 

forsaken its purpose
has given the snails a steeple
without a church.
And the snails, they possess
the steeple. The snails
have a path to the sky.

This sense of spirit and life is shadowed in Kristin Allio’s speaker who tells us in ‘Caldera’ that it’s

Always night
on the Internet,
no cast

She returns to this world in ‘Talk,’ admitting, “I don’t remember being enervated // by communication before the Internet.” Meanwhile, Steve Mueske and Kevin Solie’s ekphrastic combination takes us to “the deepest part of the inheld breath,” reminiscent of our viral wildfire times, especially as we’re reminded that “nature’s nature / is to reclaim.”  Robbi Nester, in ‘Cooking Your Way Home,’ offers a helpful reminder: “when you’re spending so much time / alone, it’s time to savor the intention,” advice that couples well with Judy Kronenfeld’s speaker who suggests we should just be thankful for  “the kinship / of existing under the immense / and common sky.” These reminders bring us back to wisdoms that we can only recall in moments of mundane revelation, as when Christopher Buckley’s speaker recalls Magritte’s explanation that “the invisible is something / light cannot throw / light upon.” Or maybe we can only “try to pilot away / what's left of instinct and escape” as George Bishop’s speaker does. 

The world of feeling is so often given a home in terms of nature. In this mode, Marjorie R. Becker’s speaker declares that

no, the men who never

ever swam the raw, the radiant and
somehow calming creek of feeling

oh so fanciful, oh so somehow fabulous each
time a man, another recognized just how abundant

we women were because we owned the sounds
and we breathed

Air and space create bone-like hollows that strengthen the lines of these poems, a stillness and space for reflection, process. Indeed, Walter Bargen’s airy speaker suggests we may be 

          Begging for more when there is nothing

More to do                     but survive
                       Split Zeno’s hour finer and finer

Toward an end that          never wants

   To be reached.

Contrastingly, Kurt Luchs narrates a dinner with the musician John Fahey and juxtaposes the digital and natural: “Thanks to our modern digital miracles / you can still get lost in the steep, sad canyons / between one note and another.” And Daniel Edward Moore leaves us with as graceful a concluding thought as I could hope to offer, positioning the speaker and reader as engaged in a religious miracle:            

Let’s pretend
                    that tenderness is why the sky 

turns blue. Take off your shirt,
               let your chest open like the sea.

I will walk on you.

Thank you, dear reader, for occupying this air with us, for breathing and feeling and seeing our way to each other.

                                                      —Bill Neumire