Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Richard Wilbur Award-winning Book: Preview 3

Here's one from the "light" section. This poem was a finalist for last year's Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and will be published soon in Measure.


Olēka: The awareness of how few days are memorable.
— from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig

My double-decker spice rack glares at me.
In its glass eyes of marjoram and mace,
of fennel, cumin, saffron, savory
and coriander, I am a disgrace
to cookery. And if, at times, I'll toss
some basil and oregano to test
the limits of a bland spaghetti sauce,
tarragon and chive are not impressed.
So, as the cream of tartar gathers dust
and dill weed fades to a diminished gray,
my days and months and years fly—as they must—
without a chocolate cardamom soufflé.
No one to blame, no one to hold at fault,
I take this poison with a grain of salt.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Richard Wilbur Award-winning Book: Preview 2

Preparing the exhumation of the remains of Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda

Looks like The Frangible Hour should be available by December 6. Will keep you updated. Below is a second preview poem,  "Exhuming Neruda". Pablo Neruda's (1904-1973) real name was Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto.

Exhuming Neruda

Poet’s story becomes a murder mystery: Chile exhumes Pablo Neruda’s remains (CNN Headline, April 10, 2013)

At Isla Negra, Neftalí, you sang of joy and pain,
of poverty, Matilde, birds, of artichokes and rain.

And once at Isla Negra, they searched each corner of
your hideaway, but all they found was bread and wine and love.

And now at Isla Negra, they are digging up your bones;
they’ll fly them to the capital then rearrange the stones.

At Isla Negra, Neftalí, far from the abattoirs,
a leaf drifts to the earth amid the keen of grass and stars.

 -- Catherine Chandler

View of the sea from Pablo Neruda's home on Isla Negra

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Richard Wilbur Award-winning Book: Preview 1

My new book, The Frangible Hour, winner of the 2016 Richard Wilbur Award, will be out later this month. With that in mind, I'm going to publish a few of my favorite poems from that collection here on The Wonderful Boat over the next few days.

"What You Kept" is based on a very bittersweet experience, the clearing out of my parents' home after their deaths, my mother in 2011 and my father in 2012.

The poem is addressed to my mother, and is the fourth poem in the long poem in The Frangible Hour entitled "Four Songs of Parting". The poem was also a finalist for the Able Muse Write Prize, as part of a two-part elegy, "Discovery".

I hope you'll consider purchasing The Frangible Hour once it becomes available. I'll let you all know as soon as I do!

What You Kept

A mildewed trunk defending old receipts,
a cookie tin,
discolored carpets, pillowcases, sheets.
Easy enough, as are the Mason jars—
stuff for the trash or the recycling bin,
the church bazaars.
I toss aside what’s always needled me—
the plaque from John Paul’s Holy Jubilee,
the Norman Rockwell mugs, the Kinkade prints.

From underneath
a roll of batting and a bolt of chintz
I pull a faded ribbon-festooned box.
Inside, my fairy-stolen baby teeth
and first-shorn locks
acknowledge, in an elegant goodbye,  
that I was once the apple of your eye.

 -- Catherine Chandler


Wednesday, November 2, 2016


November Dawn, Saint-Lazare, Québec. Photo by Catherine Chandler


November is a season all its own —
a month of saints and souls and soldiers. Snow
will soon white-out a fallacy of brown.
It is a month of waiting, lying low.

November is a season all its own —
a time for turning back the clock as though
it’s useless to pretend. A dressing-down.
Thin ice entices me to touch and go.

November, remnant of the year, is here
in dazzling dawns that dissipate to grey;
here in the tilting asymmetric branch
and sharp note of a towering white pine where
the pik and churlee of a purple finch
can either break a heart or make a day. 

(by Catherine Chandler. First published in Measure, Volume VIII, Issue 1, 2013)