Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Remembrance . . .

Threnody: On the Razing of Sandy Hook Elementary School

Back out of all this now too much for us . . .
Back out of all this now too much for us
Back out of all this now too much for us
Back out of all this now too much for us
—Robert Frost, from “Directive” (Steeple Bush, 1947)

It was a school. It is a school no more.
            Weep . . ., for
the echoes won’t be quelled. A small boy brings
            what little things
he can to help his teachers feel less sad,
            could make them glad –
two Devil’s Eyes. Observe his ironclad
innocence. Behold his baby teeth.
Don’t look for footprints. Do not lay a wreath.
Weep for what little things could make them glad.

 © Catherine Chandler, October 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Glad and Sorry Seasons

My new collection, Glad and Sorry Seasons (Biblioasis Press, 2014) is now available for pre-order on

It's scheduled to be in bookstores around mid-March 2014.

The title is taken from Shakespeare's Sonnet XIX, and the book's six section titles are also from The Bard:

Section I:    Give Sorrow Words
Section II:    Driving Back Shadows
Section III:   The Oldest Sins
Section IV:   With  Mirth and Laughter
Section V:    A Smack of all Neighbouring Languages
Section VI:   Glad and Sorry Seasons

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Painters and Poets

Sun in an Empty Room, by Edward Hopper (1963)

My villanelle, "Zeeman's Paradox" is online HERE. If you decide to watch the Hopper video, I suggest you turn off the sound. In any case, the dialogue appears as text. The music is utterly distracting.

This is my second ekphrastic poem based on a painting by Edward Hopper.

Zeeman's Paradox is explained HERE (under Types of Perspective: Limitations).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Arrived in today's mail!

An early birthday present!

I recently won this beautiful book simply by being visitor #5,000 to a poetry website.

From the Folio Society. Text based on the 1609 quarto, edited, and with an introduction and glossary by Katherine Duncan-Jones. Quarter-bound in buckram with crushed silk sides designed by Anna Murray. Set in Monotype Bembo with the poetry in Narrow Bembo. 224 pages with 38 engravings by various artists.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Three Years, Thirty Thousand Visits to "The Wonderful Boat"!

Image by Australian poet, artist and musician, Janet Kenny, who designed it for the cover of my first chapbook, "For No Good Reason" (The Olive Press, 2008)

Celebrating three years of poetry blogging on The Wonderful Boat, launched in November 2010.

Below is a Fibonacci sonnet I wrote this year. The nickname, "Iron Goddess of Merci" belongs to a famous Chinese oolong tea. More HERE.  There is no typo in line 6 ;-) .

To the Iron Goddess of Mercy

ters on
the table
its wavelets almost
failing head over heels into
the imaginary axis of the outbetween

as I take my KrazyGlued teacup out of hiding
may the kettle whistle softly
may the day stay calm
may comets
swirl in


Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Most Read" Milestone!

Margaret Atwood

Some wonderful news HERE.

"Coming to Terms" is a ten-poem mini-collection chosen by Margaret Atwood as one of three finalists out of over three thousand entries in the "competitor" category in the Attys Competition in 2012. It came in second, and part of my prize was a Skype conversation with none other than Ms. Atwood, who offered to "tweet" her thousands of followers on Twitter when my next book, Glad and Sorry Seasons, comes out next April.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

You can lead a horse to water, but . . .

Photo by Debbie Irwin. Source:

My humorous sonnet, "On the Folly of Persuasion", was just awarded a certificate of special recognition from Poets & Patrons of Chicago, Inc. (Est. 1954) in the 2013 Helen Schaible International Shakespearean/Petrarchan Sonnet Contest!

The sonnet will soon be published in Light, a quarterly journal of light poetry, whereupon I will also reprint it here on The Wonderful Boat.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

This made me smile . . .

My blog stats show a search for my name (in Russian) as:

кэтрин чандлер

. . . but were they searching for me, or her:

or her?


At least, she's not the beast!  :-)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Old Friends

Photo by Tim Sinclair (

The Loiterers

Each morning at exactly nine o'clock
our fellowship of grizzle-headed men
meets at McDonald's, métro Frontenac.

We take our customary seats, and then,
despite the posted warning, PAS DE FLÂNAGE,
drink discount coffee for an hour ot two.

Surrounded by a motley entourage
of East-End Montrealers, we outdo
each other with our lively poppycock.

Long since returned from distant Neverlands,
we turn a deaf ear to the ticking clock.
The manager is kind. He understands

our joie de vivre, our order of the day;
refills our cups, and grants that it's no crime
to hold our own; and though we overstay,

to squander what we've left of change and time.

( © Catherine Chandler, first published in Alabama Literary Review)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


"Orange Wood" 
 Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at Free Digital


Between the last triumphant note of fall,
when maples, marigolds and pumpkins vie
for orange jurisdiction, and the rime-
embellished month of Christmas, there he is,

November. Stark. Severe. Demanding all
imagination can afford: a lie
might do the trick; an epic if there's time.
Anything to fill that void of his.

by Catherine Chandler, first published in Candelabrum (United Kingdom)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reunion Poem

I've just been notified that "Chiaroscuro", the poem I wrote for the 45th reunion of Coughlin High School, Class of 1968, in honor of our classmates who have passed away, will be published in the Spring or Summer issue of The Lyric.

Founded in 1921, The Lyric is the oldest magazine in North America in continuous publication devoted to traditional poetry.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Keeping Busy

Abundantia (ca. 1630), by Rubens

I've had a productive late summer/early autumn (so far) and have written fifteen poems.

One-way Street (four sonnet sequence)
On the Folly of Persuasion
What She Kept
Ante Meridiem
Zeeman's Paradox: Imagining Edward Hopper's Sun in an Empty Room
Reunion Muzak
On the Razing of Sandy Hook Elementary School

+ three sonnets (no titles revealed here) for the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award competition.

Soon to be and recently published:

Composure (Measure) - finalist for the 2012 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award
On the Folly of Persuasion (Light)
Exhuming Neruda (New Verse News)
When (First Things)
Intervals (Measure) and (Forgetting Home: Poems about Alzheimer's)
Horizons (Rotary Dial)
Ribbons (Mezzo Cammin)
White Night (Mezzo Cammin)
Wherein the Snow is Hid (Quadrant)

+ four sonnets in The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes (an anthology of sonnets)

My next project is a sea ballad.

Thank you, Muse!

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Today was the perfect day to recite this poem, one of my favorite Robert Frost poems. It's almost like a prayer.


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

(by Robert Frost, from his collection A Boy's Will)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

In Nora's Garden

In Nora's Garden

Non semper erit aestas.  - Erasmus

In Noras's garden, nothing's overgrown;
the phlox and freesias keep their proper place
no goldenrod, no florid overblown
rugosas spoil the cultivated grace.
In Nora's garden, hummingbirds and bees
find ample sustenance all summer long;
her suet feeders swing from maple trees
whose visitors repay her gift in song.

It wasn't always so. I can remember
when dandelions ruled. My mirthful neighbor
could not have cared less, April through September,
about the weather or the fruits of labor.
In Nora's garden, everything is plum;
her hedge against whatever else may come.

© Catherine Chandler

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Things

The three Moirai. Relief, grave of Alexander von der Mark (de)
by Johann Gottfried Schadow. Old National Gallery, Berlin

For those of you who receive the journal First Things, I have a poem in the current issue.

Other poets in this issue are:

Claudia Gary, Brian Doyle, Amit Majmudar, Stephen Scaer, Kevin McCabe, Carol A. Taylor, Catharine Savage Brosman, Dana Gioia, and Bryce Christensen.

Here's the poem!


For man also knoweth not his time.  (Ecclesiastes)

the silver cord

the broken lamp
the overboard
the firedamp

the golden bowl
the unbeknown
the grassy knoll
the chicken bone

the shivered wheel
the shattered jar
the broken keel
the cattle car

the poor, the rich
the swift, the slack
the cur, the bitch
the heart attack

the weak, the strong
the sisters grim
the toll, the gong
the seraphim

remember Him

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Beach at Piriápolis, Uruguay


He lifts me from the wheelchair to the water,
my arms entwined around his neck. A wave
breaks on us, aged father, aging daughter.
He is too caballero, much too brave
to show the strain, the effort it must take;
but the charade is obvious to me.
Like every summer, then, I smile and fake
indifference to the fast-encroaching sea.

We're laughing, floating, buoyant in the swell
of Rio de la Plata's tidal flow;
like other tossed things—seaweed, sand and shell
we hold our own against the undertow.
And when at last the shore recedes from view,
the ballast of our hearts will bear us true.

— Piriápolis, Uruguay, January 2004

© Catherine Chandler. First published in 14 by 14.

Saturday, September 14, 2013



I pause to rest beside the Temple of
Antoninus and Faustina. Stone
and sunlight, mingled with the leaden drone
of tour guides, the oppressive push-and-shove
of camera-wielding pilgrims, makes me search
for sanctuary; and an olive tree
September 12, 2001 A.D.
provides the hushed asylum of a church.

This peaceful corner that the tour left out
might tempt another traveler, by and by,
to view the Forum with a quiet eye
and think it something to write home about;
as I am doing now, except I scrawl
Wish I were there on postcards that portray
an artist's sketch of Rome before the fall,
its columns shining in the brilliant day.

( © Catherine Chandler. Originally published in Lines of Flight, Able Muse Press, 2011)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The boat is afloat!

Edna St. Vincent Millay - Life Magazine photo, March 1941
Already the last day of August!  It's been a fruitful summer so far -- eleven poems! I'm afraid I've left the wonderful boat in dry dock for a while, but I've been busy writing and revising.

"Heartburn", my parody of Millay's sonnet, "Time does not bring relief; you all have lied" is now online at the British quarterly humorous poetry site, Lighten Up Online.

Just mailed in two sonnets to the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award competition.

If you click on the blue link for the 2010 winner, you'll see my new Wikipedia page!  Thanks, Alex, for the entry.

I've also submitted some work to The Hudson Review, Sewanee Review, The Dark Horse, The Raintown Review, The Lyric, Comstock Review, and to the Helen Schiable Shakespearean and Spenserian Sonnet Contest. Wish me luck!

My poem, "Intervals", will soon appear in Measure and also in the anthology (available for pre-order) Forgetting Home: Poems about Alzheimer's.

My humorous sonnet, "On the Folly of Persuasion" has been accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Light.

I finally got new glasses -- I was resorting to the magnifying glass for small print!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"High from the earth . . ."

Bernard F. Chandler, Sr. with daughters Cathy and Debby

On this sad day, the one-year anniversary of my father's death (thirteen months after my mother's passing), I am reminded of something Emily Dickinson wrote in a letter to her friend, Mrs. Samuel E. Mack, in 1844:

"The Dyings have been too deep for me, and before I could raise my heart from one, another has come."

Below is an uplifting poem by Emily Dickinson, about fathers, faith, hope and love, despite life's difficulties.

High from the earth I heard a bird;
He trod upon the trees
As he esteemed them trifles,
And then he spied a breeze,
And situated softly
Upon a pile of wind
Which in a perturbation
Nature had left behind.
A joyous-going fellow
I gathered from his talk,
Which both of benediction
And badinage partook,
Without apparent burden,
I learned, in leafy wood
He was the faithful father
Of a dependent brood;
And this untoward transport
His remedy for care,—
A contrast to our respites.
How different we are!

-- Poem #1723 (Emily Dickinson)

Missing you, Daddy.  ♥ Cathy

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Delmira Agustini

Catherine Chandler, at the crossroads of Delmira Agustini and Cálices Vacíos (one of her books), Punta del Este, Uruguay, February 2013. Photo by Hugo Oliveira

I'm pleased to announce that I've been invited to write a second essay for the Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project. I've accepted, and have already begun my research on another Uruguayan poet, Delmira Agustini. Agustini was a personal friend of María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira, the subject of my first essay.

This poetry blog is named for one of Agustini's poems, "La barca milagrosa" (my English translation on a separate page).

I'm hoping to finish it in time for the 2014 West Chester Poetry Conference, celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

One of my favorite poems by Philip Larkin

Home is so Sad

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as, 
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.
13 December 1958. From The Whitsun Weddings
© The Estate of Philip Larkin

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Class Reunion

Catherine Marie Chandler, High School graduation photo

I'm honored to have been asked to write a poem for the reunion of the James M. Coughlin High School Class of 1968, to be held later this month.

Forty-five years ago I wrote the words to the class song, Love is Blue. My audio recording of the poem, a sonnet entitled "Chiaroscuro", will be played prior to the reading of the list of our deceased classmates. 

Thank you, Beth Roche Ward, for this kind invitation to participate, although I will not be there in person.

♥ Cathy

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Missing you . . .

My beautiful mother, Bernice Alice Smith Chandler July 10, 1930 - July 10, 2011

The distance that the dead have gone
Does not at first appear --
Their coming back seems possible
For many an ardent year.

And then, that we have followed them,
We more than half suspect,
So intimate have we become
With their dear retrospect.
(Emily Dickinson, Poem No. 1741, 1896)
♥ Cathy

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Rotary Dial

Barnsley fern plotted with VisSim (Source: Wikipedia)

A recent poem of mine, Horizons, is now online at The Rotary Dial, page 10. (Password: ektoplazm)

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Bernard F. Chandler, Sr. and Catherine Chandler, Father's Day, 1951

Father's Day 2013 will be my first without my father's physical presence on Earth. Our last words to each other were, "I love you." Below is a poem I wrote for him and gave him several years ago for Father's Day. I have made revisions: some verbs are now in the past tense.

The poem is entitled "Hush", a word which has several meanings. In the poetic sense, it is a tranquil silence. As a verb, it can mean to calm, to soothe, or to become quiet or quieter. My poem uses these definitions, but also a third meaning. In mining terms, "to hush" is to run over the ground to erode the soil, thus revealing the underlying strata and valuable minerals.


My father was a quiet man who knew
from early childhood that the universe
could be a place of blessing or of curse;
and sensing that no blustering ado
would change it, he would stash the leaden truth
out of my reach, my comprehension. He
instead became my lifetime guarantee,
my Galahad, the hero of my youth.

I do not dream of diamonds anymore,
I've never chanced upon a pot of gold,
my ruby slippers seek a trail gone cold.
But it was different then. Despite the roar
of chaos that below the heavens swirled,
his hush unearthed this precious, priceless world.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Exhuming Neruda

Pablo Neruda's gravesite at Isla Negra, Chile

A short poem of mine on a recent news item has been published today (June 6) at New Verse News HERE.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mezzo Cammin

Photo by Alyssa L. Miller

Two of my poems, "White Night" and "Ribbons" are now online (Volume 8, Issue 1 of Mezzo Cammin) HERE.

Thank you to Editor Kim Bridgford.


PS: The author photo was taken before I went back to my natural white hair! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Another Poem for "Quadrant"

"Ruelle en hiver, Montréal", photo by Jean Cazes. Source:

My poem, "Wherein the Snow is Hid" (whose title comes from the Book of Job) has just been accepted for publication in Quadrant, a prestigious Australian literary and cultural print journal.

The poem, written in five jagged, heterometrical stanzas of slant rhyme, digs deep into the leftover snow of March and, by the final line (whose final word is a play on the québécois word "glace"), rediscovers beauty and love.

Thank you, Les Murray for accepting another of my poems for your wonderful journal!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chiaroscuro - Mother's Day 2013

Catherine Chandler and her mother, Bernice Smith Chandler, May 1951 (photo by Bernard F. Chandler, Sr.)

I scanned this photograph and inserted it in a book entitled Mother and Daughter Reflections by Pat Ross, and gave it to my mother on her 75th birthday. On the back of the photograph I had written:

Here, Bernice Smith Chandler, not quite 21 years old, is holding up her daughter, Catherine Marie Chandler, 6 months, most likely telling her how, in a few months, she'll be walking. By the looks of it, Cathy is not so sure, and seems more interested in the shadows on the sidewalk. One of my mother's best lessons, it did turn out, was to "stand on your own two feet!"  Love, Cathy, July 2005

When I retrieved this book from my mother's belongings after she passed away in July 2011, I discovered she had placed the scanned photo and message on page 5 of the book, where this quote by Doris Lessing appears:

"She seems to me so fragile that I want to put out my hand to save her from a wrong step, or a careless movement, and at the same time so strong that she is immortal."  

As it turns out, I took many wrong steps and made many careless movements, but I always knew how to make my way back home.

I think about her every day, not just on Mother's Day. But both her absence and her presence are more palpable on this day.

Where Shadow Chases Light

This is my delight,
thus to wait and watch at the wayside
where shadow chases light
and the rain comes in the wake of the summer.

Messengers, with tidings from unknown skies,
greet me and speed along the road.
My heart is glad within,
and the breath of the passing breeze is sweet.

From dawn till dusk I sit here before my door,
and I know that of a sudden
the happy moment will arrive when I shall see.

In the meanwhile I smile and I sing all alone.
In the meanwhile the air is filling with the perfume of promise.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Cento

Emily DIckinson

This morning I discovered that my cento, "I Had Some Things", based on lines from Emily Dickinson, appeared in a review of Theresa M. Welford's book, The Cento: A Collection of Collage Poems, in Verse Wisconsin Online in 2012. "I Had Some Things" appears in my book, Lines of Flight (Able Muse Press, 2011).

My second cento in Welford's collection, "The Bard", based on lines from William Shakespeare, also receives a favorable review HERE.  "The Bard" will appear in my upcoming book, Glad and Sorry Seasons (Biblioasis Press, 2014).

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 30, National Poetry Month: Two Cities

On this day, April 30, in the year 1859, the first weekly installment of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities appeared in his (then) new literary periodical All the Year Round.

On this final day of National Poetry Month, here are two poems, "London"  by William Blake, published during the French Revolution, and "In Paris with You" by James Fenton.

And here are two YouTube videos of the poems.


"In Paris with You"

I hope you enjoyed National Poetry Month.  I wrote only one poem this month, which is about usual for me. And I'm still revising it!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 27, National Poetry Month: Tell a Story Day

Click HERE to read The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes, in honor of National Tell a Story Day, April 27, and click HERE to hear the musical version sung by Loreena McKennitt.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 26, National Poetry Month: "Write till your ink be dry"

William Shakespeare  was baptized this day (April 26) in 1564. The exact date of his birth is unknown. In his honor I wrote the following cento/sestina, or if you prefer, sestina/cento completely from his works.

It has been published in

available HERE .

So, Happy Sort-of Birthday, Will!

The Bard
by Catherine Chandler

Our hands are full of business: let’s away,
and on our actions set the name of right;
with full bags of spices, a passport, too,
for we must measure twenty miles to-day
when day’s oppression is not eased by night.
So come my soul to bliss, as I speak true.

If it appear not plain and prove untrue,
that so my sad decrees may fly away,
kill me to-morrow: let me live to-night!
Thou livest; report me and my cause aright.
Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day?
If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it, too.

Let me have audience for a word or two:
this above all: to thine ownself be true.
Yet I confess that often ere this day,
in cases of defence, ’tis best to weigh,
to look into the blots and stains of right,
in high-born words the worth of many a knight.

The mountain or the sea, the day or night –
one side will mock another; the other, too.
O, let me, true in love, but truly write
without all ornament, itself and true,
for fear their colours should be washed away,
as are those dulcet sounds in break of day.

The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
and she died singing it: that song to-night,
which by and by black night doth take away;
if she pertain to life, let her speak, too!
They would not take her life – is this not true?
O, blame me not, if I no more can write!

Never durst poet touch a pen to write:
we are but warriors for the working-day.
If what I now pronounce you have found true:
when the sun sets, who doth not look for night?
Please you, deliberate a day or two,
let thy fair wisdom, not thy passion sway.

There is no other way: do me this right –
and it must follow, as the night the day,
write till your ink be dry. O, ’tis too true.