April Poetry Month (Day 9): Alice D’Alessio #npm17 #wppoets

Alice D'Alessio photoAlice D’Alessio grew up knowing that April was poetry month, since she and William Shakespeare were both born in April, a couple days apart.  Her father raised her to love poetry, and gave her the book Tales from Shakespeare, by Charles and Mary Lamb when she could read.  She lives in Middleton and has published 5 books of poetry, including A Blessing of Trees (Crossroads Press) which won first prize from the Council for Wisconsin Writers.  Her latest book is Walking the Tracks, published by Fireweed Press, Nov. 2016.

Spring Overture

Funny how we forget
from one year to the next
the joyful crescendo,
how it intensifies each day
from the pianissimo of catkins trembling
and violets purpling
to the underground tympani of waking roots
and finally the brassy fanfare
of redwing blackbirds
shouting hoo-wee! as they ride
the willows.

**in Conversations with Thoreau (UW Parallel Press)

Seeking Green

Drove south that year,
looking for spring;
in Wisconsin, the suspense
can make you crazy.

Saw first faint green
tinge stubble by the highway
in northern Illinois.
Further along,
a red-wing staked out assignations
in the cattail marsh; willows

Kentucky: emerald fields
were lapped by
muddy ditches, lakes, puddles
roiling rivers. Treetops, dressed
in chartreuse foliage, gasped
in swollen currents.

In Mississippi, saw shades
of green like samples
at the paint store; tiny satin leaves
unfold in woods
strung with redbud, dogwood–
like Christmas lights
among green branches.

Kept on driving, giddy with green,
to where Big Muddy meets the Gulf,
gushing torrents of latte, draining
the sagging midlands
like a giant sluice.

Found New Orleans, raucous
night city, breathing jazzbeat,
hot Cajun aromas; danced down dirty
streets under balconies hung with
greenswinging vines,
thick with laughter.

Problem with coming back:
Wheels rolled north
and green reversed itself,
withdrawing underground–
a nature film going backwards.

At end, a sludge-brown world,
frozen in obstinacy. Had to
shut our eyes to picture
what we’d lost
(eyelid linings saturated
with new green). Unloaded
dirty shorts and t-shirts, hot pepper
sauce, oysters, Spanish moss,
pralines. Cranked up the furnace.
Fed ourselves on spinach,
pea soup, asparagus,
key lime pie. Waited.

**in Conversations with Thoreau (UW Parallel Press)


Remember this night   the damp
sidewalk sneakers us down-hill
hands warm-clasped   wrapped in ourselves  
in thick wet dusk
catching drips from swollen buds
and haloed streetlamps
our words float between us   light as catkins
and our laughter

we are going for ice cream   on the first
mellowing April night   still jacketed
for winter   inhaling    
slow-thawing neighboryards
leaf rot   underground armies
of bulbs roots earthworms
rumbling in readiness                        

remember how our steps match  
synchrony intensifies  
in the shadows   remember
this blessed night when we enter
the long afterwards   keep
it at bedside   to swallow
in small doses

**in Walking the Tracks (Fireweed Press)