Lifted to the Wind – Kirkus Review

Themes of nature, travel, relationships, and current events run through Gardner’s (To Inhabit the Felt World, 2013, etc.) collected poems, some of which are also in Spanish.

Gardner, a writer and visual artist based in New Mexico, presents a sonically and linguistically rich set of verses mined from foreign travels, personal interactions, and experiences of the natural world. “Locked Gate” tells the story of a Guatemalan woman who disappeared in 1980. “No body. No grave. Not a strand of hair” remains, yet, “Remembered…she’s alive as you or me.” Other protest poems address the mistreatment of women (“we know the sorrow of / our younger sisters”) and the pervasiveness of violence (“Any time is the time / to go to war”). Elsewhere, verses resemble haiku in their concision and natural focus, especially the central quartet of sections named after the seasons. Fresh metaphors and vivid images linger: “Thunder rolls its baritone song nearby” and “white-whiskered crane alone / in morning stillness.” “Cezanne’s Apples” and “Garden Bench” are two of the strongest poems. The former includes an array of color (“viridian, carmine, cochineal”), while the latter’s sibilance (“Sumptuous excess silences slow wind”) is a good example of alliteration. “Yellow,” a frequent adjective, lends a nostalgic glow to “Montserrat Revisited,” one of several standout travel poems: “last tenacious yellow cleaves to sycamore.” The gentle eroticism of “Desiderata” finds muted resonance in “Bedtime Story,” in which two people dream of building a bed of aspens. The bed is a symbol for their marriage, and there is a deliberate echo of Yeats’ “The Second Coming” as they wonder, “Would the center hold?” Physics and Internet security, respectively, provide the unusual vocabulary for two later poems. Care has clearly been taken over the varied stanza lengths and indentation, while Gardner’s brush-stroke images are germane illustrations. Twenty-five poems are accompanied by Spanish versions—an additional gift for bilingual readers.

Precise language and imagery reinforce the conclusion that noticing leads to enlightenment: “a few things / unremarked / awaken us to this life.”

-Kirkus Reviews

LIFTED TO THE WIND Poems 1974 – 2015

Image

A book of new and selected poetry to be published in spring 2016.

A book of new and selected poetry to be published in spring 2016.

Recognition for TO INHABIT THE FELT WORLD

The photograph is from the WaterLight series.

The photograph is from the WaterLight series.

Finalist for the Da Vinci Eye Award for cover art and design.

Exploding in consonants and fertile juxtapositions of verbs with their luxuriant tenses, rubbing against the grain… celebrating the meaning of anything seen, held, or enjoyed—this collection rocks the reader in ways post-modern poetry never will…. these poems make us want to believe in the human project—the words breathe and beat with music and electricity….” Indeed, these poems go after life, dragging it in, holding it close—devouring it through iambs and “…the Felt World.” — Eric Hoffer Book Award, Honorable Mention for Poetry

 

To Inhabit the Felt World is a collection of poetry from Susan Gardner, as she presents her own unique interpretation of the universe…. [With] awareness and wisdom, To Inhabit the Felt World is a fine addition to contemporary poetry collections, recommended — Midwest Book Review

 

Susan Gardner’s spare but urgent collection of poems, To Inhabit the Felt World, is “the roar of alive”…. I don’t believe I have ever read lines of such ferocity, honesty and pain….

To Inhabit the Felt World is a remarkable collection by a remarkable poet/painter/photographer. — Elizabeth Raby, poet, author of Ink on Snow

 

The sinews of Ms. Gardner’s poetic form elevate our own perceptions, so that we too, may unabashedly inhabit the felt world and restore those moments, which deem us human and aesthetically free. — Gary Worth Moody, author of Hazards of Grace

 

Susan takes us by the throat… into seemingly veiled poems that leave haunting images for us to reinterpret, to meditate upon. These are poems for the poet-breath within us. One reading, one long breath is not enough.… As a fellow poet, I am revived by this gathering of penetrating tenderness. — James McGrath, author of At the Edgelessness of Light, Dreaming invisible Voices and Speaking With Magpies

 

painfully honest and joyously expressive. You can almost hear the voice of the poet in the structure of the poems and in the powerful cadence of the words. Susan’s work speaks of honest emotion, introspection, and heart. — Sharon Vander Meer, Happenstance

beautiful in production and text — Joan Logghe, Poet Laureate Santa Fe 2010-2012 and author of The Singing Bowl

New York Public Library

New York Public Library

A book connects us to one another through time and space. We hold the author’s ideas in our hand unmediated by anything except our own curiosity.

 

I

 

The children’s room

five steps above the main floor

open shelves for young patrons

librarian’s desk near the door

 

Read pictures, read poems

hushed rustle of pages

dust motes in the window’s sunlight shaft

bindings across silk-smooth golden maple

quiet clicks stamp dates on paper slips

 

Borrow armfuls of books

 

Five steps down, secreted from infant eyes,

forbidden treasure

 

Necessary whispers only.  Perfect.

 

 

II

 

Marble beasts before limestone columns

allow passage

across hundreds of steps

mimes mug for nickels

anxious lovers suspended in anticipation of one face

arms overflow with books unaligned

 

readers ascend to their shared home

scholars climb the white flights

ernest heads bow with weight of words

 

III

 

Double-storied coffered domes over stacks,

asylum for earth’s every thought

city’s every scholar,

idler, pencil-pusher,

venerable, solitary,

prized, repudiated

                                   aged and child

have a place at this table

 

sounds brush through silent space,

talk soft at the desk,

pencils scribble,

shoes cross marble floors

index fingers slide under corners

                        impatient to turn pages

everything we touch is paper

 

thoughts from yesterday and millennia before

seined in paged nets

 

On heads bent over books

brass lamps shine gold

 

consolation for the lonely

comfort for the cold

solace for the bereft

 

stay until the midnight closing hour

 

Waiting: Fall

Waiting: Fall

 

For Love of Red

 

Red silk wet on pine needles.

Maple and sumac glimmer red against the road

neither red as the red wool blanket

in my blue room.

 

Evensong

Coyote families sing to each other in the dusk

sun flares redden mountains

sky blue as lapis lazuli

until moonless black night uncovers stars.

 

 

 

 

Cold Blue

 

 

blue scraps of sky

crack out clouds

 

dull winter ground

rigid brown

 

soon

snow we’ve longed for

 

 

Storm

clouds bank black against less black mountains

flying snow crosses dusky sun

fractured into winter rainbow

 

Red Twig

 

Morning fog lifts its wet weight

red twig shines

in remembrance.

 

Clouds in a prism of urgency

rush to the sea

 

An insect passes

lost in last summer’s litter.

Sidereal

night draws each body

over moonless horizon

 

Jupiter rises

stars overwhelmed

orbit toward dawn

 

 

 

 

 

Fog

 

shapeless quiet slides over the roof

colors hide

in deepening dusk

rain channels bark

 

fog drips on a forest mouse

somewhere near      a song

Atlantic Flight

Atlantic Flight

 

 

 

sky snow

 

scumbled over the landscape

undulates under blue clouds

 

late sun

rose-red,

lavender-lake

 

half the spectrum broken

over the roiled  surface

 

defined by ivory-black ribbons

of frozen rivers

 

no bird dares the winter sky

 

this titanium cylinder

radiant in the stratosphere

 

flies high in the face of sense.

 

 

Box of Light ~ Caja de Luz

Box of Light

 

At six in the afternoon

the air is heavy with sun

filled with intimations of the coming evening

still holding a lovely light

 

A motionless moment

 

I put my memories of the future

in this box of light.

 

Caja de luz

 

A las seis de la tarde

el aire está pesado de sol

lleno de insinuaciones de la noche que se acerca

sostiene todavía una luz feliz

 

Un momento inmóvil

 

Pongo mis recuerdos del porvenir

en esta caja de luz.

Deep Water

Deep Water

 

sun-stunned dark water

touches curved blue atmosphere

ultramarine horizon invisible

 

skin darkens in fevered summer air

sweat a salty sheen

black curls halo over reddening ears

legs stiff at water’s boundary

 

plunge in, drown in brilliant delight

weightless, jubilant

float besotted

 

I learn to swim

Garden Bench

Tepoztlan-river-webcopy

Garden Bench

 

Narrowing path

 

overrun with elephant ears, birds-of-paradise,

pampas grass, plumed with decay.

 

Tentacles avid, relentlessly accelerate.

Sumptuous excess silences slow wind.

 

In canopy leaves reach for sky.

 

Alone here, unlonely,

immolant joy.

 

Between seasons, angled apart, the stone rests on gray schist legs.

 

Each dry winter, cemented

in their shrunken rigid waterless bed

desiccated stems flake to dust

Leaves of streamside trees

wait for July rain to decompose.

 

Each rainy summer night it sinks another iota toward its ancestral home

amidst the bedrock

of the river’s underground channel

tipping  imperceptibly

aslant in the slippery loam

 

The path a dirt track, no longer wide enough for two people to pass,

once planted, now wild

 

below steep rock steps a derelict fountain,

verdigris-bronze head on the wall

calcified mouth unable to spout the rainy runoff.

 

There the bench waited for decades.

 

Broken sun glints through heavy foliage.

Awake

I dream the afternoon.

 

Words fall through cascade of air.

 

Lines found in any order,

reordered,

folded away,

 

found again,

foundered in the torrent

found sheltered

this reader of stone in the rain.

 

 

a                  a                a

 

Along a wide path,

white with florescent light,

white with cold empty shining air

immaculate, pristine, precise,

five people, a crowd covered in blue,

walk steady and resolute .

 

Awake

on the rolling platform

I dream back this sheltered garden.

 

The tiny black mystery, size of a fingernail, sends its life out

in threads, ready to take mine in suicidal excess.

They, steadfast under blue lights, mean to murder

this malignant monster.

 

Silence and noise, garden leaves,

insects and wind, muffled footsteps

 

 

A stone in the river ,washed smooth

by twenty years absence,

lies wet in the sunshine.

 

Gentle in its muddy bed,

heavy in my hand now, its body

contains the igneous history of the world.

 

A wader in this stream,

I step in the icy flow and fall

against its solid actuality.

 

 

2012

Partita

PARTITA

 

I          Coffee break

they lean into the space between them

faces illuminated with interest

or pheromones

they leave their coffee to  grow cold

 

he explains

    the phenomenological world

            materialist dialectics

kama sutra

 

blind to the world

they take one breath,

exhale,

then one more

 

deaf to all but one voice,

bellies, breasts, crotch, hair,

focused,

limerance absolute

 

immeasurable, preposterous, unquenchable appetite

ravenous for bone and skin

avid for muscle, fat, blood

 

finger pads on webbing of toes

hair against breast, tongue edging earlobe

voice in the valley

notched between the ends of clavicles

 

the roar of alive

 

II         Lust

 

He just wants

dominion over money, mind, body, over piles of flesh

ownership of toes, taste buds, hips

ownership of thought, intention, ambition

piles of stuff no one wants

 

She holds hurt in her bones,

in mind

in dreams

at the edge

of fingernails

scraping the soul

two, cancered with regret

 

shrunk into a teaspoon of sown salt.

 

 III       Weight

 

 

Hard tumor of hurt

 

No need for absolution

 

Unrequited

untouched

no amends

 

left with fingers

 

bent backward off open palms,

calloused with unanswered forgiveness