Loquaciously Yours Featured Poet Number One

Welcome to the first of my features on some of the fine poets I’ve met online, to be regular weekend posts here at  Loquaciously Yours!  My reviews and interviews will eventually be archived on their own page here.

The amazing poet Fireblossom aka Shay Caroline  has intrigued me since I first read her work at her blog Shay’s Word Garden following a link from One Stop Poetry several months ago.  Who is it that has the chutzpah and deftness to write:

…Do lions dream?/Of course they do./They dream of zebra–Enormous, endless herds of zebra,/Nearly all of them young,/Or lame,/Or so stupefied by the afternoon sun/That they simply blink and lie down/Like mail on the little table/By the front door…

I am struck by the vulnerability of the zebra as “stupified” and the seeming ordinariness yet extraordinariness that they would lie down as casually as mail on the table with lions near.  Suddenly I see white letters with black print on them, blinded, peppered over the savannah.  And then, with that great inner transmitter a good poem kicks off, I think of humanity and our zebra-ness in the context of this poem.

I have been moved, uplifted and fascinated by this writer’s work—beginning with how prolific she is, and yet, its consistent high quality.  Even as I’ve been revising and tweaking this piece, the prolific Shay has put up a lyrical tour d’force at Wordgarden.   Shay’s poetry is raw, unfiltered through any kind of lense of  people-pleasing surface civility and yet, because she is an honest, gifted poet, she pays attention to craft and doesn’t shirk the great taxing work of writing with exactitude, word and image.

Here is Le Printemp in its entirety:

I traveled across an icy place.
My shoes fit badly.
I reminded no one of Swan Lake.
I arrived, in a snow storm, in front of a coin laundry, under an overhang.
The pavement was wet.
An old black man was mumbling on a bench.
Cars crawled by like thoughts through a hangover.
There was a woman there,
With a baby on her hip,
And a cigarette in her hand.
There was no bible god in sight, and so I
Put my hand to the back of her month-old highlights and kissed her
Like a butterfly landing on a pastry.
When I leaned back to gaze into her eyes,
She squinted and said,
“Who the fuck are you?”
Standing there in my old parka and knit hat, I said,
“I am the Spirit of Spring, baby.”
She was wearing boots, jeans, a brown ribbed turtleneck and a red flannel shirt.
She took a drag, blew it out, and then stood there in the smoke cloud
As if it were dry ice.
She seemed to decide something, tossed away her smoke and tilted her head.
I followed her.
The baby looked back at me as if I were some amazing talking toy.
She lived above the coin laundry.
There was crap all over the place;
A little portable stereo on the floor,
Books on the couch,
Off the kitchen a stuffed-full pantry with no door.
I said, “I came to the coin laundry to get clean.”
She said, “I came to the coin laundry to get kissed.”
In the morning, she kicked me out,
But with a smile.
The baby was fussing behind me as I went down the stairs.
All my clothes smelled like an ashtray.
I had trouble getting through the downstairs door to the street
Because of my glorious, white, soft-feathered wings,
And everywhere I looked,
The apple trees had blossomed overnight.

Copyright Fireblossom—Shay’s Word Garden

What staggeringly delightful lines, like biting into a fresh cannoli, with  the careful selection and lyrico-narrative patterning of imagery here and so many stark, interesting  cinematic images, e.g  the old black man mumbling on a bench; these things are a matter of advanced craft in the hands of a real natural.  The poem ends up being about the transformative power of an encounter, how we are made new in the making of love and how transfiguring connecting to someone, merging with her even in a venue so presumptively ordinary as a Laundromat.  Don’t you love:

There was no bible god in sight, and so I
Put my hand to the back of her month-old highlights and kissed her
Like a butterfly landing on a pastry.

Fireblossom is a good alias for this poet; she “gets” what poetry needs to do: to pierce, to sting, to stun, to sing—as one critic writes, to stop time with its beauty.

When I asked Shay if I could feature her at Loquaciously Yours, she sent me a wonderful intro piece:  here it is (bear with me– I wanted to get this up, the links wouldn’t hold in WordPad on dial-up– but you can also look for these amazing poems in her blog archives.)

I was first published at 18, in a glossy magazine called Speakeasy. I thought, wow, this is easy. Then I wasn’t published again until I was 23. Between the ages of 23 and 26, while living in Texas, I was published around three dozen times in various now-defunct tiny little literary journals and college publications.

Then I moved back to Michigan where I was born and raised, got married, raised a son, and, except for two very short bursts, didn’t pick up a pen again until 2006, a span of more than twenty years. By then I was single, my son was grown, and I had come out. I began to write again in August of 2006, and haven’t stopped since. I hope I never do.

I began my Word Garden blog in March of 2008. I now have four blogs, and they are:Word Garden, for my poetry and various random personal musings. Word Garden is me, through and through.

Objet’s D’art, my satirical humor blog, written in character in the voice of Babs St. Argent, the world’s richest and cheerfully narrowest woman.

Night Blooms is my short story blog, which I began about a year ago.. My stories are usually dark lesbian love stories, sort of The L Word meets The Twilight Zone.

And lastly, there is my WordPress blog, Coal Black’s House Of Pain, written in character by Coal Black, a singer from the wrong side of the tracks.

I live with my Aussie Shepherd “Bosco” and love to read and blog.

Fire is an example of what is almost memoir, poems I write that, while they are not cold recitations of fact, are nonetheless written from my own experience. Valentina is an example of two styles I use a lot, the story poem and the narrative poem. These use invented characters and tell a tale I’ve simply dreamed up, and though the emotional core of these pieces is usually from my own life, the specifics are not.

blues for c. is an example of a lyric style I like to use sometimes, as is The Monster Of Birmingham’s Last Words. The latter is also an example of something I do fairly often, which is to depict a deplorable character in first person voice.

The Juju Cowgirl combines story poem, narrative poem, and my signature longing love poem, what my friend Kelly Dickson calls my “sighing” love poems.

Canto For A Cuckoo and Garden Of Love are examples of my shorter poetry.And I would be remiss if I didn’t include a Danny poem. Danny’s Coffee Shop is an imaginary place I have written about repeatedly in a series of related pieces. Danny’s is populated with a group of supernaturally-inclined, rather likeable women who just happen to do wickedness sometimes. And drink lattes. They seem to be my most popular poems. Longing features two of the main characters, The Succubus, and a charming sociopath named Chloe. The coffee shop itself doesn’t appear, here.

Do take the time to visit the wondrous Fireblossom and linger over her piquant, poignant and astounding work!  You might also enjoy taking a look at the blogging poets listed on Wednesdays at One Stop Poetry– Shay posts a link to a spanking new poem there quite often.

Jenne’ Andrews
Hasta luego, viajeros—Until then.

All words by Shay Caroline aka Fireblossom copyrighted to Shay’s Word Garden.  All words by Jenne’ Andrews copyrighted to her and to Loquaciously Yours.