Welcome to my poetry world. May you savor these dances with words. (Order Janet’s latest book: What Lasts Is The Breath)
WINNER, NEW MEXICO-ARIZONA BOOK AWARDS, 2013
What Lasts Is The Breath is also available at Amazon; if you can, please order from an independent bookstore, or from the author.
SELECTED POETRY by JANET EIGNER
Janet Eigner reads Isaac’s Blessing
When Isaac, a small, freckled boy,
approaching seven, visits us for Family Camp,
playing pirate with his rubber sword,
sometimes he slumps in grief,
trudging along, his sacrifice and his small violin
in hand, his palm over his chest,
saying, mother is here
in my heart. Before he leaves for home,
we ask if he’d like a Jewish blessing.
Our grandson’s handsome face ignites;
he chirps a rousing, yes, for a long life.
We unfold the prayer shawl,
its Hebrew letters silvering the spring light,
hold the white tallis above his head,
recite the blessing in its ancient language
and then, the English, adding, for a long life.
Isaac complains, the tallis didn’t
touch his head, so he didn’t feel the blessing.
We lower its silken ceiling
to graze his dark hair,
repeat the prayer.
On the Poetry Foundation’s website, for the April 23, 2012 weekly posting, selected by Ted Kooser, former U.S. Poet Laureate, for his column, American Life in Poetry.
A New Day
Janet Eigner reads A New Day
Drums pound the Corn Dance rhythm
moccasined feet tap the ground
make holy the earth
make holy our throng.
Gladys feeds us posole and stew;
we chat at the table with her son
his toddler rocks in a soft swing
hinged from the big room’s ceiling
ringed with Navaho rugs.
We wash the red chili stain off stew pots
while I savor the rich sauce of our friendship
absorbing some old ways from Gladys.
Over dirt roads, she hurries food to her mother’s home
feeds the seated dancers — men’s bellies
rubbed white and pumpkin-striped
pine boughs strapped on bare arms.
Outside, white fluff feathers the women’s tablitas—
carved rain designs
string-tied under their chins.
Winter sun rays the plaza
rekindles our peace.
Janet Eigner reads Erosion
When you wipe off the kitchen table, careful not to let the crumbs
fall to the floor, and sweep the detritus smoothly into the pan,
when you pour the dustballs with yesterday’s broccoli and rice
into the brown paper bag, where do you think it goes?
My husband knows, brushing crusts to the floor,
scattering dirt as if the broom were his windmill.
Silt sticks to the outermost moldings, but the remainder
he gathers up to feed his dazzling garden
He plays erosion as the game he knows it is,
brushing against the dangerous strengths which plane us back,
like the Colorado River, chocolate orange, so full of itself
as it wears through the brilliant canyon rock
sweeping away the ground we would stand eternally upon.
Sestina When Persephone Returns
Janet Eigner reads Sestina When Persephone Returns
I wait again for her to nest, ledge above the portal light, the flycatcher.
In her pastel lemon apron, she shakes out the fibers and down,
bustling like a spring cleaner freshening her blanket, rousting the mouse.
Her melody gurgles, acapella with the finches’ ecstatic song.
The cat ack, acks, tracking the mouse’s sprint through the rice grass,
felina wiggling her backside inside the screen door that sifts the scent of iris.
Purple on the breeze, praising Sol, the girl band, Sisters of Iris,
harmonizes, as the bird’s mate on the spruce’s crown, flicks his tail to flycatcher.
Tassels cresting thread-thin stems, wave from bunch grass,
aren’t yet ready to float their seed like cottonwood’s summer down.
The crimson house finches, stoked on sunflower oil, melt with song.
I’ve ditched the traps, the peanut bait: long live the deer mouse.
The flycatcher tails twitch, like umbrella-toting-wire-walkers, up and down,
as below the rose bush feeds the mouse, and cat sings her ack, ack song.
Around my ankles the tall grass twists as I bathe in the freshet of iris.
Deep Song of the Earth
for Maria Benitez and Juan Siddi
Janet Eigner reads Deep Song of the Earth
At 35,000 feet, the silver body drones
its Albuquerque to Phoenix monotone.
Sheared, like sheep, the blunt austerity of basin and mountain,
divulges little but rhythm and design.
From my window, a plucked, deep-plum terrain fans like fossil feathers.
Craters and ranges of puckered ridge-backs slope to salty playas.
Approaching each dried lake, its gleam, a diverse rhinestone;
beneath the plane’s torso, its shimmer vanishes,
though each kindred outline remains,
a salt necklace strung across these miles.
The desiccated hollows below could barely shelter a gypsy band,
yet the brutal mountains summon flamenco memory.
Summers seasoned with duende’s intense flavor,
Maria heating the crowded teatro, the cantaor groaning Aiii!
Juan and Maria gash the stage with their needle-thin nails — los clavos,
launch rounds of rhythmic footwork, zapateados crisp as sleet.
Sweat flies off Juan’s head as he twirls and twirls.
In the spotlight, he’s a net of wet diamonds.
The earth below remembers this tremor,
how its deep granite once had danced, bubbled,
wrenching hot and flowing language,
torn, fluming essence, layer upon layer
rising, subsiding, cooling, drying.
The flamenca’s chattering castanets
merge with the jet’s engines,
the Andaluz vibration.
NEW MEXICO POETRY REVIEW, 2012 STATE CENTENNIAL ISSUE
Selected poetry publications of Janet Eigner: Cornstalk Mother, Puddinghouse Publishers, 2009, What Lasts Is The Breath, from Black Swan Editions, May 2013, in and poems in: Poetry Foundation website’s American Life in Poetry, week of April 23, 2012, Adobe Walls, Blue Mesa, Earthships: A New Mecca Poetry Collection (anthology of New Mexican poets, 2007), Echoes, Anthology, Hawaii Review, Manzanita Quarterly, Malpais Review, Mudfish, New Mexico Poetry Review, Sagarin Reviews and Anthology, Reconstructionist, Visions International. Santa Fe Literary Review, Adobe Walls.
Selected poetry readings of Janet Eigner: PEN International, East St. Louis Drumbeats, Writers’ Voice National Reading Series in St. Louis, River Styx at Duffs, Edison Theatre at Washington University, Manzanita at Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe Public Library, Inn at Loretto, McGrath Orchard, Southwest Writers at Wild Oats, Santa Fe Doorways, Compassionate Friends, Paul White Salon, Teatro Paraguas, 100,000 Poets for Change, Garcia Street Books, La Tienda’s Performance Space, Op.Cit. Books.
Adobe Walls featured Poet at Albuquerque’s Page One Books; Santa Fe Art Quilt Guild and Poets at La TiendaGallery; Southwestern College. Upcoming: St. Louis, MO, Left Bank Books, Taos, NM, Moby Dickens Books (see Upcoming Readings for details)