How about a little poetry today?

Penelope Scambly Schott is a new to me poet. Calyx Press offered me a copy of her new book Crow Mercies so I thought I’d give her a go. What did I have to lose after all?

Crow Mercies is an interesting blend of poems that range from the very personal level of the death of Schott’s mother to the mythological and several places in between. Nature runs through many of the poems appearing as herself or as metaphor. Schott also has a strong, firm, voice and an accessible style that invites the reader in to share an intimate moment rather than pushing away and keeping a distance. Her language is informal, everyday, comfortable. She doesn’t pull out the stops and overdose on $10 words.

This is not Pretentious Poet Poetry but it is not light and frothy either. Not a few times did one of the poems elicit “poetry stomach” in me. “Poetry stomach” is a feeling I get in my stomach and chest when I read an especially good poem. It is not unlike having the wind knocked out of me, but it is not painful rather it is delightful. You have probably experienced a similar feeling maybe while reading poetry or standing in front of a great work of art or reading the most beautiful sentence you ever recall coming upon. Perhaps you call it something else. I call it poetry stomach because I experience it most while reading poetry.

Now, you want a sample. I know I rarely try a “new” poet without a sample first.

I Will Not Count the Years Or Even The Hours

I will go to the place that stands motionless
inside the middle of a minute.

I will live in that place that tumbles with stars
over the embracing roof of the dark

where I confuse your soft breathing
with wind brushing the Douglas firs.

Long after our moment has ended,
anniversaries of our marriage

could flourish like early salmonberries
by a June trail    I want to believe in love

so bright, so frequent, so delicious,
it ought to be eaten by birds.

This one is an excerpt from a little longer poem:

from U.S. Air Force Admits It May Have Bombed Civilians in Afghanistan

My babies grew up with both of their hands
and all their skin.

It isn’t every day that every mother
gets such great news.

There is a woman whose face is darker
than mine. Her shawl

shadows her eyes. This woman was born
in the wrong village

under the wrong sky. What must we do
to offer her baby

each fresh sunrise like a ripe peach
ready for patting

with two plump hands?

And finally:


As the mussel adheres to its wet rock,
as my widowed neighbor scours her house,
as a lizard’s tail can shift a tall dune,

so this is the song of one word: love;
this is the song of two words: you, me;
this is the song of three words: all of us

infinitesimal creatures unknown in the sea;
each star, including new ones so far away
we haven’t yet seen them; the invention

of words; wind creasing our fur, or the fur
of whoever we’ll be next.

Love that last bit about the wind and the fur.

Hope you enjoyed the samples. Whenever you are next in the mood for poetry, consider Crow Mercies, it’s a pleasure to read.