In this very last print issue of the journal POOL, which will become an online journal only at www.poolpoetry.com, the cover greets with two 1950’s children wearing star shaped sunglasses about to come out of a swimming pool, doused with the varying reflective colors produced by rippled water as a result of the sun. This image is joyous and playful and humorous and although not entirely reflective of every poem comprising this journal, it does represent a large portion of them. Whether the poems here are playing with the toy of language or the sounds it often emits, there is a kind of fun here at work, with an underlying seriousness of purpose or meaning jolting us back into reality.
In Dorothy Barresi’s “Winter Nap,” fairy tales and the other various narratives of winter are poked fun of or turned on their heads: “And if so, may I be a birch clearing / For an hour? A gingerbread girl, / or am I to be a sheep // in wolf’s clothing again, / stumbling in ridiculous, oversized furs as the wind narrates me?” The joy of the absurd and the stories of youth that take you back to that supposedly innocent time are highlighted here. In a poem of seemingly more serious import, “Intrinsic” by Sarah Gridley, the author uses the image of the bird to guide us to the answers to questions we have about life’s elusiveness and the natural world that affects it: “When I shake with purpose, I have no idea. Spring could be / a set of days. / Or a strand of being the wind knows how to play. / This could be immature forever.” Here, the author tries to explain the unexplainable mysteries that we encounter roaming this earth each day.
Benjamin Grossberg’s “The Space Traveler on a Cold Planet,” envies astronauts who are on or have traveled to warm planets, while A. Loudermilk’s “High Lily,” a comedic pastiche homage to the actress Lily Tomlin, takes poetic and hilarious stabs at scenes from movies she’s done. In Molly McQuade’s “Small Finds,” we are regaled with tiny discoveries of life as if the author, a character in her own poem, were digging up small shards of gold and holding it under the light with fascination: “I’ll bid for modesty, thanks, / like a grey beetle boogeying in the crosswalk / of a molten carpet, // hoping to upstage medallion impaled after medallion / on the cramped saffron distress // of 17th century Persia / Harbored, I’ll hatch wings / like a Korean wildcat // fleeing to a grove with a clowning black crow / who’s talking my ear off / Marry me, oh you fine auctioneer.” The language in this poem takes chances and is adventurous in the meanings it attempts to impart to the reader, especially the message of imagination being the most important tool in writing unique poetry.
These poems, as well as the many others which are housed in the clear, blue, reflective fluid of this journal, will no longer keep us cool in print as we hold it in our guilty little hands as we laugh out loud and continue to read the numerous poems of hilarity and gravity that lived in its pages. Now we will have to enjoy what so many small journals are being forced to do as the cost of printing starts to weigh on them and are forced by mere necessity of survival to go online only so that they will have to pay for little, if any, upkeep. Perhaps more poets and poems can grace their digital pages in the process. Anyhow, do not fret; enjoy this last issue with further poems by Sarah Michas-Martin, Charles Harper Webb and Elizabeth Whittlesey that will either make you laugh until you cry or cry until you are laughing.