Still Literary Contest Poetry Winner: Connie Jordan Green
Connie Jordan Green writes poetry, novels for young adults, and a biweekly newspaper column in an attic study where the Cumberland Mountains in the distance and farm fields nearby form an ever-changing view on the world. Her young people’s novels, The War at Home and Emmy, have been republished by Tellico Books, an imprint of Iris Publishing; and her chapbooks, Slow Children Playing and Regret Comes to Tea, were published by Finishing Line Press. She teaches writing workshops for beginning and advanced writers.
Poetry contest judge Marilyn Kallet writes of Connie’s poem: “Here is a poem in which formal elegance embodies feeling perfectly, lyrically, with understatement. The couplets reinforce a feeling of intimacy, even as the lines cover a lot of ground, from carefully observed description of the poppy to the discussion of memory and loss. Whitman comes to mind, but Neruda's work is the trigger; our winning poet has chosen her poetry companion wisely. I especially love the lines: ‘promise of summer // and long leisurely days, the lie that the world / slows, that whatever we want will come.’ The poem hits its deepest note there, with the adult imagination re-evaluating promises of youth. This poem was written with a sure hand—there's no syllable out of place—and I admire it tremendously.”
Do you see a thread in the bloody silk
of the poppy? —Pablo Neruda
I know the poppy, scraggly stems breaking earth
in mid-April, leaves like moth-eaten lace.
And then the blossoms—crepe paper cups
of pistil and stamen, food for May’s butterflies.
And yes, bloody silks falling atop the dining
table, yellow pollen peppering the linens.
The flowers are childhood’s dreams, perfect petals
like pictures on a calendar, the promise of summer
and long leisurely days, the lie that the world
slows, that whatever we want will come. Poppies
in a field, brown with July heat, only the oval
of a seed head ripe for picking, opium for some
other mind, our own pleasure fled. Do you see
a thread in the bloody silk of the poppy, Neruda
asks, a seam in the world where childhood is stitched
in yesterdays, sewn into the fabric of day
following night following day, a seam that lies
flat in our memory, pulled tight with each breath.