Tuesday, October 13, 2009

“The Wild Flowers of Belgrade”

I’m very happy to announce a new ongoing feature here on Robert Frost’s Banjo—the poetry of “B.N.” B.N. is someone I knew when I was in the MFA program at the University of Virginia, & she was one of a handful of poets there whose work consistently inspired me. Recently, I’ve been very glad to re-connect with B.N., & she has graciously agreed to supply Robert Frost’s Banjo with some of her work.

The poems that I'll be posting come from a manuscript entitled Journey Music. Although B.N. recently described them to me as "long in the tooth," they are in fact fresh & alive, & I’m confident that you’ll also find this work to be truly exciting poetry. B.N.’s poetry will appear every other Tuesday—starting next month, it will alternate weeks with the translation feature; as advertised, I will keep up the Breton translations thru October, so the next of B.N.'s poems will be posted midday on the 27th.

“The Wild Flowers of Belgrade” previously appeared in The Seneca Review.

The Wild Flowers of Belgrade
                                            How many children do you have?
                                                How many children did you have?
                                                     — Dalya Rabikovitch

It was a flowering of sorts
The mice nesting in the mattress
Didn't even know she was there,
Until she emerged mute and stark
After three days
Flotsam, vague, fragile.

These she remembers: The opera house
At 4 pm, the off note on her mother's
Piano. Mrs. Rosenbloom's son's guts
Spilled on the sidewalk.
Mrs. Flower,
                  Forever blooming in the darkness
                  And her strange idiot boy.

R      who dropped her baby in a well
S      who jumped into the well herself
M      who returned from the well because it was full .

The dogs that leapt madly
On command-- it was a game the soldiers
Played. The people crowded together on the slope
Cling to each other, quaint and domestic at a distance.
Roused from their sleep, for an instant. . . .
                                                                      They were lovely.
The rain made them young, supple.

You should have seen them, yellow
Canaries let loose into a cave, lanterns that flare,
                                                                      and then subside.
A weather front moving in and the promise of
A Bavarian snow, the world can return to them.
Creosote, rainwater, lupin blossoms.

© to the author 1983-2009


  1. Oh, my. Fresh & alive, indeed. Also arresting, fascinating. Thank you for sharing B.N.'s work with us, and thank you to her for allowing it.

  2. A wonderful start to what promises to be a most exciting series

  3. It falls beautifully on the ear and teases the mind. I wish I could find the clue that opens it up. I've been writing occasional short essay things on various poems over at Plumbline, looking at them, turning them over, trying to see what makes them tick, but I can't quite see my way into this one. Something very interesting is happening though, and/or has happened, and perhaps we aren't meant to know exactly what it is. Sort of like the opening of The Wasteland - with Summer surprising us, coming over the Starnbergersee - but even more interior. I look forward to more of B.N's work.

  4. Hi Sandra, Alan & Mairi:

    Thanks to all of you for stopping by--I'm very happy to have this work on RFBanjo & am glad you like it as well! Word has it that BN is also pleased!


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