Winter plays shadow tag with spring, nature displays its harshest creations in floods, mudslides, thunder snow, blizzards, droughts. And the world foments revolutions for good and ill with humankind's most recent inventions, the electronic central nervous system of the planet we call Facebook, My Space, and Twitter. Makes a soul yearn for a quiet poem and a spring landscape to inspire, doesn't it?
But before we get to a quiet poem, let me tell you about a new literary journal conceived by Christine Neilson, author of the SLO Coast Journal column, "Under the Tongue." Interesting name? It's her way of paying homage to the satire streaming through her blood and her sharp eye for the humorous.
Recently, over a good cup of tea at Top Dogs in Morro Bay, we discussed Christine's departure from the Central Coast for the last ten years while she explored states in the southwest and taught, followed by a respite in the northwest to allow herself three months to meditate upon the shape the next chapter of her life would take, a challenge she felt required isolation. The result was the birth of "ViVACE, Art, Photography and Writings Selected and Edited by Christine Neilson." "It is a self-published extension of my Masters Thesis," she told me, "and a means to explore other avenues of self-expression."
The second issue of ViVACE emerged in January. It is a tribute to George Hitchcock, Christine's longtime mentor and friend, who passed in 2010 . Twenty-three of Hitchcock's colleagues and friends share lively vignettes from their lives with him. The engaging cover artwork was painted by him.
Christine says ViVACE welcomes the opportunity to read unsolicited nonfiction, poetry, and personal narratives for our next issue, due out in the late spring. There are no submission requirements for style. She urges potential contributors to adhere carefully to the following guideline:
- You may send, via email , up to three unpublished poems or two 1,000-word fiction or nonfiction pieces written in Microsoft Word. We do not read simultaneous submissions.
- Include your name, address and phone number at the beginning of each submitted email attachment. Submissions without this information will not be considered.
- All writers/artists/photographers are kindly requested to subscribe to ViVACE: $20/two issues. Send email for subscription information. Deadline for submission to issue 3 is March 31st, 2011.
It is a lively, entertaining collection.
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Now, on to the quiet poem. This particular piece evolved as a result of someone I loved telling me this tale over and over again through the decades. I observed how her misery "saved her" in one respect, yet crippled and imprisoned her in another. One day it came to me as an epiphany that this was a lesson worth heeding. The poem wrote itself in the subject's voice.
A Springtime Decision Reviewed at Winter's End
After my first love jilted me
I vowed no one would ever
hurt me that way again,
she said, shivering.
So I built a wall
impenetrable as ignorance,
a wall so deep and high
no one could ever break through.
Her face frozen in arctic blizzard furrows
beneath a drift of wispy silver snow
took on all the shadows
of a lifetime's regrets, sorrows,
and rapidly descending night.
What I didn't bargain for
was the same wall
that kept me safe inside
its impenetrable shield
isolated me there,