Poet Feature - August 2021
Joan Mazza worked as a microbiologist, psychotherapist, and taught workshops nationally on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self. Her poetry has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, The Nation, and elsewhere, and her prose has appeared in The MacGuffin, Streetlight, and Jellyfish Review. After living in New York and Ft. Lauderdale, she now lives in rural central Virginia where she writes a poem every day and does paper art.
RECIPE FOR SOLITARY JOY
The scents of comfort foods—
twelve bean soup in the Crockpot,
sourdough rising, green onions
frying with a touch of sesame oil.
Clean laundry folded and stacked,
an empty dishwasher, full pantry.
The complete array of art supplies
from papers to canvases in a variety
of sizes, all the brushes, pouring media
and intense pigments across the rainbow
for your next project, the table cleared
of clutter, dust. A fire burns bright
in the woodstove, a pile of books
you chose and can write inside.
Silence. Or Vivaldi or Mozart
in the background. A purring lap cat,
one dog at your feet. No one calls
your name, shouting, Can you
bring my smokes and a beer? Snow
so deep you can’t go anywhere.
ADAPT OR DIE
The pace of life has quickened
though we’re going backwards
taking rights away, telling others
their beliefs are wrong, along with
their lovers and way of living. I say
NO every day. No, I will not sign
what I don’t believe, will not recite
a creed that starts with I believe
and I haven’t written.
I love silence between the natural
sounds of bullfrogs, owls, chatter
among the crows. I can’t stop
the din of modern life, so I adjust
to what I can’t change, don’t
have to like it, won’t spout
the latest catch phrase. I may be
quiet, but my sphere of influence
expands word by word.
Eight Instant Pots around the room,
tall workbenches of blond wood
in the back of a store with high priced
cooking tools, all of which I want
and I don’t need. In these high-tech
gadgets, we make BBQ chicken,
mac ‘n’ cheese, and gooey brownies,
each in its own Instant Pot. But
it’s so quick, the teacher keeps
telling us. Just set it and go! No
need to stir or watch; it will keep
itself hot while you do laundry
or run out to pick up kids at school.
Hurry, hurry, no time for flavors
to marry. Just dump contents, start
your dinner. I’m not impressed.
Give me slow food. Let me stir and sniff
and taste along the way. Would you take
a class to be an Instant Poet? Quality takes
time without the rush and hurry: bread
dough kneaded with bare hands,
ingredients added in the right order,
caring sealed and savored in each ladle.
I’m retired. No more rushing to the end.
My axis has tilted, altering my ecliptic,
while my north pole is heavier, foggier
than my south. I’ve been eclipsed
by the transit of youthful stars,
by super-clusters, where an unspoiled
planet awaits bold travelers. No longer
bold, my body is cratered, scarred by
sudden impacts, drained of resources
by black holes and super-giants
I viewed as gods. If this is the normal
trajectory of life, send me one
bright shooting star for my one wish
tonight in the region of the Big Dipper,
so I’ll know where to turn my gaze.
Celestial bodies have no influence
on me, regardless of my time and place
of birth. Inside my body, atoms
are galaxies being born and dying.
Do not let my velocity fool you.
Daily, I take a shuttle into the past
for a launch in my near future.