Poetry Panel featuring NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti with Al Maginnes and Debra Kaufman
Friends of the Library Spring Dinner and Annual Membership Meeting
Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 6:30pm Belk Dining Hall
Space is limited.
Join us for a wonderful evening of poetry and conversations about poetry as Bathanti, Maginnes and Kaufman include us in a conversation about their work.
Poet and playwright Debra Kaufman is the author of two full-length collections—A Certain Light and The Next Moment—and three poetry chapbooks—Family of Strangers, Still Life Burning (winner of the 1996 Kinloch Rivers Chapbook Competition), and Moon Mirror Whiskey Wind. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies and literary magazines, including Virginia Quarterly Review,North Carolina Literary Review, Spoon River Quarterly, and the Greensboro Review. She received a playwriting scholarship from the North Carolina Arts Council and a Central Piedmont Regional Artists Hub Program grant. The mother of two sons, she worked at Duke University for over twenty years and currently teaches writing workshops to people of all ages. Her short and full-length plays have been performed throughout North Carolina and elsewhere.
The sun had not risen
when I slipped into the kitchen
and saw my father at the sink,
where he never stood.
He did not order me back to bed,
but turned and tenderly
showed me the gold
he’d reeled in himself.
Their scales glittered like fairy wings.
He called them sunnies,
his voice a low rumble
like the night train that slowed
as it passed through town.
He too was always leaving.
He smelled of the lake and coffee,
happy and sad together.
The dome light shone on the cold linoleum
and a sifting sort of lavender
air made me shiver. A wren
chittered in the weeping cherry.
I stepped my bare feet onto his huge brown shoe
and balanced there.
Singled from the queue filing
through airport security,
my 90 year old father is fully cooperative,
even amiable; not even surprised, it seems,
that fate has tapped him on the shoulder
to answer for something he is innocent of.
Two uniformed buxom matrons,
coiled hair and black patent leather
Sam Browns, heart-shaped
silver badges, ask him
if he’s accepted anything from strangers
since he’s entered the terminal.
He assures them he never accepts things from strangers.
They study him as if his affability
is part of the ploy, a filament
wired to the bomb he’ll trigger.
They prod over him an electric wand,
slip him out of his overcoat, shake his cane.
He smiles and calls them young lady.
He’s ordered to remove his shoes,
a pair of white Addidas,
not a scuff upon them; and his hat,
an old brown fedora they flip over
and over and empty of its nothingness,
before patting him down like a convict,
armpits and crotch, sliding
their hands up and down his arms and legs,
each skeletal ridge and knob
as if by magic he might divide
and reveal the vault of Armageddon.
Suddenly my father is terrible as Isaiah.
Yet he remains smiling, even as they strip him,
tottering naked on bare yellow feet,
white hair smoking off his chest,
millwright’s legs tungsten blue,
from him emanating an audible tick.
Then they peel him out of his skin,
jackknife him open:
sprung, mis-spliced wires,
capped sockets, taped frays –
the mysterious circuitry of detonation.
Still they don’t find what they’re searching for,
and he can’t remember
where he’s hidden it.
Take a look at these books from our poets.
Al Maginnes is the author of five full length collections of poetry, most recently Inventing Constellations (Cherry Grove Edition, 2012) and Ghost Alphabet (White Pine Press, 2008), winner of the White Pine Poetry Prize as well as four chapbooks of poems. His poems appear widely in a number of national and regional journals including Poetry, Georgia Review, Southern Review, and Tar River Poetry, among many others. A former recipient of an Individual Artist’s Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, he lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and teaches composition, literature and creative writing at Wake Technical Community College.
Cutting Grass on Easter Morning
Here is the season’s certain resurrection.
So I crank the mower loud enough to drown
any church bells, pull my cap brim low
so I won’t see what is not in my path
and push through what shines before me,
lush and bent with last night’s rain.
Last week a tornado hit a mile from here,
ripped power lines loose, pushed through houses and stores,
left us without electricity but untouched, filled
with the slow-breathing gratitude of those
who suddenly know exactly what things
they are grateful for. It is one requirement
of faith that we find ways to love
what we are given. Sometimes we need
the chaos of wind and lightning to remind us.
Today, and for a while, we will need less.
Even this task arrives as a blessing.
In a few hours I’ll kneel in the rich cuttings,
in the air of what is ripe and broken,
to hide eggs from the kids coming to find them,
then rise, palms and knees stained green
by grass that is already growing again.