WEAKNESS_-_COVER_3This was my first attempt at memoir-writing disguised as formal poetry. After someone I loved very much died of cancer, I took a "geographical cure," traveling to different parts of Canada in search of new love. To quote my favorite review by the late Jim Simmerman, author of five poetry collections and considered one of the best poets of his generation, he describes A Weakness For Men as , "A prosodic odyssey through intimacies and geographies" and "a virtual tour de verse." He goes on to say, "its poems explore the motions — figurative and literal — gone through by the loving, the loveless, and the loved."

Writing Samples: 

Coping With Death [pantoum] 

I loved the man so very much.
But when the cancer came along,
I turned to tennis as a crutch.
To help me cope; to keep me strong.

But when the cancer came along,
I chose this serve and volley game.
To help me cope; to keep me strong.
Some said I should be filled with shame.

I chose this serve and volley game
It gave me courage, self-respect.
Some said I should be filled with shame.
I wonder now in retrospect.

It gave me courage, self-respect.
I hid my heart on courts of clay.
I wonder now in retrospect.
What could have kept the pain away?

I hid my heart on courts of clay.
I turned to tennis as a crutch.
No matter what my critics say,
I loved the man so very much.

Someplace New [villanelle] 

Exactly how I got here I don’t know.
It had to do with Edward slowly dying. 
I needed someplace new to let him go.

A change of scene to heal and help me grow,
To stop my hollow chest from always sighing.
Exactly how I got here I don’t know.

I'd reached a flat, emotionless plateau
Where breathing was the same to me as crying.
I needed someplace new to let him go.

Where pain and loss would melt away like snow
And hope might rise again like eagles flying.
Exactly how I got here, I don’t know.

I did a lot of pacing to-and-fro,
Debating if this trip would be worth trying.
I needed someplace new to let him go.

The day I came the clouds were thick and low 
But even so my sorrow started drying.
Exactly how I got here, I don’t know. 
I needed someplace new to let him go. 

October 24, 1989 [ballade] 

The wedding was perfection, that’s for sure.
I hardly knew a single person there.
I wore a chiffon skirt and played demure
With autumn posies scattered through my hair.
The groom stood proud. His shoulders, straight and square.
Despite that penguin suit, he was a “hunk”.
And at the party, glasses in mid-air,
We toasted `To true love!’ and then got drunk. 

My motives, I’ll admit, were less than pure.
A trumped up marriage seemed a bit unfair.
But as I scrawled my newest signature,
I didn’t think the government would care.
No sex. That was our deal. I made him swear.
I’d take the bed. The couch is where he’d bunk.
A week went by. He bought some wine to share. 
We toasted `To true love!’ and then got drunk.

What once was cut-and-dried becomes obscure.
He tells me he no longer feels despair. 
He wants to wed for real. I am his cure.
“I love you madly. Love me, if you dare!”
I put him off. That sets him on a tear.
“You lying little bitch! You sneaky skunk!”
His insults are too much for me to bear. 
I toast `To truer love!’ and then get drunk.

L'Envoi

To you, it must seem sadly insecure.
I should have said “Adieu!” and shipped my trunk.
But I was charmed by Canada’s allure.
Let’s toast her coastal shores and then get drunk.

Jill's Books

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