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Stanley Plumly

Stanley Plumly

Stanley Plumly

I recommend Stanley Plumley’s book of Poetry entitled “Old Hearts” to everyone. “Old Hearts” is a series of poems that deal with the relationships that build, and impact, our hearts. The poems are not arranged as if they go from childhood to adulthood, but as you read this book you will find that there are indeed one poem for each stage of maturity.  His poems play with the idea of how, at these different stages in our lives, our hearts perceive the events. He intertwines within these poems the beauty of nature, the ocean, and the mortality of life.  This book won an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in 2002, and they stated, ” This is Plumly’s finest book of poetry-sustained meditation on ‘old memory, old worry, old matter from the softest tissue deep.'” His poem “When He Fell Backwards into His Coffin” really shows this well:

The rumor, because we all want to die happy,

is that he was in the bath listening to Verdi.

Probably singing, too, or mouthing with the masters.

So it must have hit him hard, the surprise faster

than a fall on ice of the missed step off a sidewalk,

his mouth opened wide in order to talk

himself out of it. The truth is he was resting

on the edge of an empty tub, fully dressed,

every cell, body and soul, beginning to annul

every future cells. And whatever he was thinking, solo,

a cappella, he must have had a moment,

as memory voided him, that he remembered, as he’d told it,

how his mother held his head down in the bath

to tease or test him, or both.

Plumly is fascinating. He looks on the mortality of life and how our hearts change throughout the different patterns of life. He’s poems are a lot of fun to read as well. I really enjoyed reading his poems “Missing the Jays,” and “Still Missing The Jays.”

“Missing the Jays”

What’s missing, morning after morning,

are their shrill, swift barkings-down,

their shkrrring blue-flight strike alarms-

or later, from the thawing underbush,

the clicking metered phrases Emily

Dickinson calls civic in felicity.

Blue breaking the gray-white-black

of stillness, habits of silence-

what’s missing are their fierce

collective tempters.

And all of them,

not just one male militant inter-

changeable malcontent, one bluer

or louder, one stronger, one faster,

but all of them now missing as if they’d

dissappeared, their hectoring mob

predatory selves left to their cousins,

crows, their beauty to the cardinals,

brighter than blood in the veins

of red maples.

By spring the sky will darken

with all the usual birds lining the wires

and walls, driving theirs survival

(bird-in-the-hand-sized sparrows,

blackish English starlings, feral

mongrel doves), when what’ll be missing

in the corner of the eye the second

the head is turned is blue-jay blue-

and then the moment gone, and the jaaay

jaaay sound, like a jeer, gone with it.

This poem, and it’s companion poem (which you will have to read!) are beautifully written. I enjoyed them very much.

By Stanley Plumly

Old Heart: By Stanley Plumly

Once you start reading this book, you become enthralled with it and have a hard time putting it down.  He gives a wonderful voice to all of his poems.  Often it feels as if he is having a personal conversation with the reader, and he in spilling all of his deepest secrets. I hope you all enjoy this book and drink it up as much as I did!

~Jessica

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