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.

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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. 


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.