the horticulturist replied as I pointed to the flowers atop a crested saguaro cactus I had tried to save, its life now oozing away from bacterial necrosis within.
But tell that to a bee who greets each flower she meets as if it were the first or Mexican bats who migrate a thousand miles to lap the sweet nectar from agave and saguaro blossoms or the young woman whose first flowing blood marks the opening of her new life or the young country where democracy once bloomed.
First published in Tipton Poetry Journal Issue #40 (Winter 2019). See page 11.
If I put a word here, say for instance, extravagance, how would that look? Or if I gave it a whole line e x t r a v a g a n c e like something that fills the sad space in your life by pumping itself up to seem important.
What if I put in a long pause…? not because I need to, but to make you stop and listen for whatever comes next as if the words held sacred truth.
What about all that space along either side of this page? I could pull it in like so
or take it all the way out to the farthest reaches of space just because it is there and I can.
Does it matter what I say here or how? Do words depend on me to give them life or do they possess lives of their own? Do they rise and go to work each day, and come home again to sleep at night? Do they aspire to perform great things, to come together with other words in poems and speeches for the ages? Maybe in the meantime I should give them something to do, some little task around this page to make them feel useful.
to fill this void today, would it be a tragedy if I left it empty?
From The Museum of Unwearable Shoes (Kelsay Books, 2018)
“The Museum of Unwearable Shoes is simply stunning, filled with biting wit, subtle humor, insights, provocative questions and fresh looks at ordinary things that I’ll never again experience in the same way. I love the way Twaronite peeks beneath the ordinary, leaving me moved and at times inspired by what he finds there. Even the few poems whose images and metaphors I find disturbing also provide insight in how to deal with such things. Reading this book was a wonderful adventure and I look forward to going back many times to again probe its depths.” Susan Lang, Faculty Emeritus at Yavapai College and author of the novelsThe Sawtooth Complex& In God’s Trailer Parkas well as a trilogy of novels about a woman homesteading in the southwestern wilderness during the years 1929 to 1941.
My second book of poetry has just been published by Kelsay Books. This is my first full-length collection and includes 61 new poems, most of which first appeared in various literary journals. Available at Kelsay Books The Museum of Unwearable Shoes
My first poetry collection Trash Picker on Mars has just won the 2017 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award in the category of Arizona poetry. I would like to thank my publisher and editor Karen Kelsay (Kelsay Books) and freelance editor Kate Robinson for their help and support. Mostly I wish to thank my readers over the years who have enjoyed my poems and encouraged me to keep on writing.
Stay tuned for exciting news of the next poetry book.
Meanwhile, if you wish to purchase a signed copy of Trash Picker on Mars, you can do so here. It is also available on Amazon.
As I drove past
the shirtless man,
his head wrapped
in cloth against
the desert sun,
he peeled the last
bit of bark
from a young
as if to strip
trace of green
from a world
he once knew.
How dare it grow
when acid hate
falls from the sky
and the ground
bears only fear
when the buds
wither and die,
and the rot
goes all the way
to the roots.
My little book of poems has picked up another review, this time by my local newspaper.
TRASH PICKER ON MARS
By Gene Twaronite (Kelsay Books, $14)
Reviewed by Christine Wald-Hopkins for Arizona Daily Star
This collection of poems, which came out last year, is an expression of the concrete, the contemporary, and—see the title—the imaginative unlikely. Two-thirds of the thirty-two poems previously published elsewhere, “Trash Picker on Mars” is Gene Twaronite’s first book of poems. Covering such subjects as a porn-peddling bus station, a sleeping woman in a subway car, a container store, the death of a mourning dove, the poems reflect upon gritty, working class life in modern American society and the nature of life itself. AZ daily star/southern arizona authors
A new review of my book Trash Picker on Mars. Thanks, Susan.
In Trash Picker on Mars, Gene Twaronite ends a poem with “They are the people I carry within. I’d show you their picture if I could.” Yet that is exactly what readers of this small volume of poetry come away with: snapshots of everyday people our society tends to ignore, those lost on the streets, asleep on the subways, or hidden behind plastered smiles as they serve daily lunch crowds. Through detailed imagery, insight, and compassion, Twaronite takes us behind their concealing smiles to the persons within, to their hopes and dreams and frailties, revealing them to be a reflection of ourselves. From the moment that lasts no longer than a handshake where we dare touch one another before stepping back into our “fortified trenches” of safe anonymity, to the eyeless faces of modern day mannequins, Twaronite’s poetry introduces us to trash pickers with their dreams still intact and to strangers on buses who will nod and recognize us as lifelong friends. I urge lovers of everyman American poetry in the vein of Robert Frost or Walt Whitman to pick up a volume of Trash Picker on Mars. Amazon customer review Trash Picker on Mars
–Susan Shell Winston, editor at New Myths, and author of Singer of Norgondy
This banner for our booth #477 (The Twaronite Zone) at the Tucson Festival of Books says it all. If you’re in the area, please join us for a weekend of literary fun for the whole family. The festival will be held on the beautiful sunny mall of the University of Arizona, on March 11 and 12, from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.
We have a number of activities planned, including a drawing demonstration by award-winning illustrator Rita Goldner, author of the picture book Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy, readings by Gene Twaronite from his children’s book Dragon Daily News: Stories of Imagination for Children of All Ages and his first book of poetry Trash Picker on Marsas well as a visit from the Absurd Naturalist, fully equipped and dressed for a day in the field.
For those who can’t make it, you can purchase signed copies of my six books in my online store. Just click on store to enter.
As many of you have noticed, for personal reasons I am no longer on Facebook or Twitter. I would be much obliged if you would pass along this link to anyone who might be interested in following my writing.
My first poetry chapbook Trash Picker on Mars has just been accepted for publication late this year by Aldrich Press (Kelsay Books imprint). Though the title poem is science fiction, most of the other poems address more general themes, including nature, religion, mythology, popular culture, and feminism, liberally sprinkled with the usual dark humor. The poem “Trash Picker on Mars” first appeared in the online journal New Myths. You can read it here https://sites.google.com/a/newmyths.com/nmwebsite/poems/trash-picker-on-mars