The Poetry Porch



When I returned from my annual visit to Pennsylvania and Maryland in June—a drive on gray roads through green countryside and dusty-colored cities—I stopped the car at its resting place on our Massachusetts driveway and was amazed: all the flowers blooming in our gardens were blue. A bank of Rozanne geraniums filled in between spurting mounds of lavender, across from the vivid stars of the delphinium and the blue bells of campanula. I am convinced that blue is the color of happiness. But once June has ended, these flowers do not last, and soon blue is replaced by other colors.
       If blue is the color of happiness, then brown is the color of sadness, and this issue of The Poetry Porch is informed by its discipline. One continues one’s work and seeks relief by walking out into the evening where birds have flown and where you count the ones that will never come back. Conversations are remembered fondly, with the knowledge that they will not be undertaken again. The dialogue is done, although through imagination the words and sentences may continue, but you know that it is you and you alone, who hold the rhythm and sway of this exchange. You toss a question out into the twilight and a response comes, but you cannot make more of it than memory provides. The spontaneity and surprise has ended with the death of a good friend.
       Sometimes irony and tricks of will can chip away at the reality of loss, and while irony may employ humor to uncover the painful truths one would not otherwise wish to face, the poet Rilke warns the young poet to beware of relying on irony, which might exist too much on the surface.
       Where I grew up, the creeks, lakes, and ponds held brown water. It is necessary to look beneath the surface of the water where glints of light and reflections of sky and surrounding trees serve as a distraction. One must dive beneath this surface into the brown depths, below the warm currents where the carp sun themselves in the mid-afternoon, down to the cold muddy bottoms where debris has settled and some forms of life burrow under stones. It is there that sadness reigns and there that you must learn how to breathe.

       This issue of The Poetry Porch honors our colleague, friend, and much-loved fellow contributor Julia Budenz, who died in December 2010. Much of the work addresses our embrace of the depths of our sadness and finding a way back to our own work while honoring this new thread in the fabric of our lives. Life will go on, and we cannot stay forever mired in our personal sadness. Julia chose life to the very end, and I believe would choose no less for us. She wished fervently that she might live on in her work. Elizabeth Reeke offers these lines of Maya Angelou:

    They are not dead who live in lives they leave behind—
    in those whom they have blessed, they live again.

       You will find pieces here written by those who knew Julia well. Some pieces are dedicated to Julia; poems by featured poet Elizabeth Reeke and Mary Freeman respond to specific poems by Julia as a tribute to their friendship. In Lynda Ty-Casper’s story, Julia appears as a character under another name. Other pieces were written by those who did not know Julia personally at all. These were chosen for their vibrancy and attention to form that Julia would have admired.
       I will include a link here to Julia’s biographical page (with a list of links to all of her poetry on The Poetry Porch), and to a sonnet I wrote in 1999 in Julia’s much-favored sonnet form. The title poem “The Sands of Time” follows.

Joyce Wilson
August 2011

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