Resisting the Ground

Prize Poems by

Barbara Blanks

Winner of the Alabama State Poetry Society Book of the Year Award, 2020

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This collection of prize-winning poems by Barbara Blanks focuses on people: Real – Could-be Real – Unreal – Happy – Unhappy – Funny – Up Close & Personal.

We all suffer, rejoice, grieve, laugh, complain, compliment, hate, love. In other words, we are just doing our best to keep going, to live as best we can, and trying to avoid those crash landings by keeping our feet up and resisting the ground.

Some comments about the poems:

" ‘Filled with empty’ was the most perfect wedding of craft and content.’ " ~~Pat Laster, Benton, AR, twice-former president of Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas, and poetry editor of Calliope: A Writers Workshop by Mail, based in Arizona.

“The closing lines of ‘The Hospice Volunteer’ will be forever seared into my brain. It brought all those emotions and bits and pieces of memory flooding back, but not in a bad way. I shall cherish your words and hold them close and be stronger for it." ~~John Hoag, Dripping Springs, TX.

"The line 'everything right and splendid gathers at the creek' was just SO stunningly beautiful. I love the way those words make me feel." ~~Jenna Pasha Smith, Richmond, TX, editor of Poetry Society of Texas A Book of the Year.

"Your name comes up regarding poetry contest anthologies -- many comments on the excellence of your work!" ~~Jerri Hardesty, Brierfield, AL, New Dawn Unlimited, Inc.

“In Utah, at the Chaparral awards, I heard your ‘Lost and Mounds’ read! The woman next to me turned to me and said, ‘Barbara Blanks must be quite a character.’ I assured her that you are.”  ~~Budd Powell Mahan, thrice-former President of Poetry Society of Texas.

Charon Carries On About His Job

Seriously, what was my mother thinking?
My name means “fierce brightness,”
yet I’ve always lived in darkness—at least,
it seems that way. Like—I used to play
with the Fate sisters, and they made me
their beast of burden—so to speak.
Clotho spun the thread of life, Lachesis
measured its length, and Atropos lopped it off—
leaving me to haul away the dead body,
be it bug or bird or worm. I never thought
I’d wind up hauling dead people.

I don’t mind. It’s a job—someone has to do it,
but I’m not the Grim Reaper, for Thor’s sake.
Really, all that weeping and wailing
by the dead is so tiresome. It helps that Hermes—
he brings me the souls—is such a practical joker.
Sometimes he takes the passage fees from mouths
and hides them in other orifices. Too funny.
Of course, if someone doesn’t have the fare,
I fling him overboard, but—
Hey, not even in death
does one get something for nothing.
Rules are rules.

Anyway, easy gig for me. I ferry the dead
down the river Styx to Hades.
It’s not a long trip, but … it probably
seems like an Eternity
to my passengers.

The Gravity of the Situation

As a girl, the fellas had praised ‘em—
their roundness and firmness amazed ‘em.
But as she got older
they fell like two boulders—
not even a crane could have raised ‘em.

It’s Been Almost a Year

My grief, bundled into a tight package
and stored away, let me talk about you,
allowed me to laugh,
go about my business as usual.

I found other ways to fill the time
we’d spent together—café lunches,
running errands, reading to each other,
playing card games, waiting
in doctors’ offices.

Now, here it is April again. This cool
evening is perfect for walking the dog.
His nose works overtime, catches
intriguing scents elusive to me.
Now he whines when I stop moving,
and begin sobbing.

Maybe I felt safe,
protected by the distance of time,
let my guard down, for unexpectedly—

Grief is all around me,
filling me,
like the heartbeat
I’ll never feel again.

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