Expansive Poetry & Music Online Mini-Review


Claudia Gary Annis, who was the first Music Editor of Expansive Poetry & Music Online, and is Poetry Editor of the fine Edge City Review published by Terry Ponick in Reston, Virginia, is also a composer whose settings of poems by Frederick Turner, Phillis Levin, Frederick Feirstein, Dana Gioia, and Marilyn Marsh have been heard in a variety of locations throughout the country.   Her first collection, Ripples in the Fabric, was published by Somers Rocks Press in 1996.   You may find her Web site by clicking here.    She lives in Leesburg, Virginia.  Poems are copywritten by Claudia Gary Annis and may not be excerpted in whole or in part without her permission.

     by Claudia Gary Annis

Poor Sigmund Freud, who in a tedious fashion
revealed that he could not account for passion,
pummelled bright scholars of the West to doubt
themselves and their perceptions -- Oh, what clout
he wielded! -- casting in his wake a spell
of missing thoughts and objects.  Private hell
for all dreamers to share, this fit him neatly:
his name translates to "joy," but incompletely.

             (originally published in
              The Formalist in 2000)

     by Claudia Gary Annis

Remember, dear, when this was the one way
to make a disk sing?  Full-size, not compact—
and both the disk and player would obey
only if you possessed your share of tact:
You'd lift the tone arm, puff a bit of air
across its fragile needle to remove
new dust, or use a brush of sable hair
to coax it out.  After each vinyl groove
was polished with the softest chamois cloth,
you'd spin a record on its table, place
the needle over it, light as a moth—
you must remember!  For the way you trace
the path of every melody I store
shows gentleness I've never known before.

            (originally published in
             Medicinal Purposes in 2000)

Song of the Off-Duty Psychiatrist
     by Claudia Gary Annis

I'm feeling "inappropriate" today --
lame euphemism, but at least it limps
where logic creeps.  Don't look at me that way.

I gave all at the office. I'm blase.
Who wouldn't be?  What a parade of gimps!
I'm feeling inappropriate today:

They're crowding me, telling me what to say,
pursuing me -- wild satyrs, wicked nymphs,
illogical creeps!  Don't look at me that way --

I'll name your passions till they melt away,
then medicate you like those other wimps --
I'm feeling inappropriate today!

All right, all right, you've had a good display
of how this job distorts me.  Yes, it crimps
my logic.  Cripes, don't look at me that way!

It's just that, when I thought all disarray
was cured by naming it, there came a glimpse
of feeling.  Inappropriate today;
logic must creep.  Don't look at me that way!


            (originally published in
             Medicinal Purposes in 2000)

The New Formalossus
     by Claudia Gary Annis
      (a poetry editor's lament, with
        apologies to Emma Lazarus)

Give me your tired images, your poor
befuddled meters yearning to breathe free,
apologetic rhyme that bars the door
to wit and comprehension.  Send to me
syllabic simulations of a foot
whose muscles can't flex and whose arch is falling;
on which you'd dare not dance, and yet you've put
your phrases under it -- I hear them calling.
Oh, and of course you'll send the sort of rhyme
that can't occur in nature unless grafted
like prunes to raisins, words to pantomime.
Readers who try to understand are shafted,
and all because you saw fit to ignore
the benefits and risks of metaphor.

                    (originally published in
                     Sparrow in 2000)

Midlife Interrogation
        by Claudia Gary Annis
Are you now or have you ever been
Even as this fortune settles in,
you know its interest won't be retroactive.

Before Time pounces, he must go exploring:
With teasing lines he takes you for a spin,
 so seductive
you almost think your face is worth restoring.

                    (This poem first appeared in
                     Loudoun Art Magazine.)

     by Claudia Gary Annis

These sounds are only fragments of the dark,
not music, never that;
not even variations on the noon
whose fever they help dissipate.

Here is a careless breeze grown to a gust
and wrestled back; a flapping gate
whose stroke and tap contain and lose the quiet;
the hum of a passing engine.

And yet I seem to coax them into phrases
that start, and end, and echo--
assigning measures to the engine's drone,
giving the gate staccato.

As phrases they can modulate and turn:
The wind becomes a dolorous
sigh that doesn't leave when fever's broken

though music will possess, reject,
possess me and reject me finally
until there is no melody but one.

            (originally published in
             Medicinal Purposes in 2000)

     by Claudia Gary Annis

How good-natured you are!  Do you secretly dread
all those daily routines where we dance on your head?
How tactful you are, even though we all know
you subsist at our mercy since you live below.

Count your blessings!  In music we're classically bent;
oh yes we have style, though we fail to prevent
the closing of doors and the shifting of chairs,
the vacuum, the dryer, our feet on the stairs,

the rushing of tides on their way to the sewer,
those thundering pipes -- all these you endure
plus those other sounds, too, in the shadows of dawn,
strange moanings and cries that arise and are gone.

And then the next morning you knowingly smile.
Well, never mind, sir; it's a matter of style.

                    (originally published in
                     Light in 2000)

                                                                      Claudia Gary Annis

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