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Themes range from poverty to the ephemeral beauty of a sun-dappled pond, settings from post-Katrina New Orleans, a freshman dorm at a Missouri college, a sleet-slick city street that could be anywhere, and a milk train hurtling through the night. Many of the poems are autobiographical, but all strive for the kind of universality that makes a reader say, I know, I know. The author offers them humbly.
No NO in NAWLINS !!
Wind and water, do not think you can rob us
of the many-faceted, bayou-set jewel that reflects
so well on her people. Their precious metal
joins sun and sea to add sparkle that only begins
with ruby, sapphire, tiger's eye, and onyx.
Pirates and other would-be thieves take heed.
No Mardi Gras mask will disguise your kind.
Phony eye patch, do-rag and fake-blood over
greed make us laugh and turn our stomachs. You
and storms may rape. Treasure may tarnish
for a moment. Buildings and bridges may totter,
even fall. Precious stones have a solid backing.
Tougher than platinum, harder than diamond.
Want to hurt yourself, try to break. Go on.
Start with her musical voice and her laugh.
Don't forget the tapestry in back took centuries
to make. Exotic colors and textures interwove.
Weave still. Think you can, try to stop night
from wanding a Gulf-side treasure to a lady
does such wonders with neon, Las Vegas dons
shades. As for the blues, the lady invented 'em!
Picks herself up, brushes 'em off like dried mud.
Tawkin’ NAWLINS, shoog. L o o k:
Here stands a man stirring a pot of gumbo that is just
the beginning. He has fifty --fifty – mouths to fill.
Opened his home like that. “Y'all come, y' heah--?!"
“A-A-A-men!” Sweat rolls from his smiling
down-home face. Almost smell the crawfish.
Here a hero lowers a basket from a helicopter
dipped gasp-low so a l2-year-old will see another day.
Here, a nine-months-along woman is being lifted
with exquisite care from Lake Pontchertrain. Shaking
for fear it’s her Time. Next scene: a brand new boy
in his grinning mother's arms. Staff in the Virginia
hospital don't try to stop beaming and cooing.
Let’s fly to Houston next. Say howdy to volunteers
sweating overtime so flown-in victims feel at home.
“Y’all doin’ a’right?” “Sweet-tea, comin’ up!”
On tv, we see children going door to door, collecting
clothes and toys that their parents and teachers
will help see find their way to Louisiana.
Truck-owners fill up and head south. Doctors,
electricians and construction workers are a small part
of those putting their lives on hold to lend a hand
because they know where treasure lies.
Grief and anger could easily overwhelm, but look.
Even celebrities and corporations pitch in. Strength,
compassion, and pride add even more sparkle.
Soon treasured streets are going to ring with life
again. Singers, dancers, mimes! Tourists
will find themselves lost and be glad. "Mmmmm,
something smells heavenly." "Hear what I hear?
That, my friend, is jazz." Y'ALL COME, y'heah--?!
(c) Phyllis Jean Green
N: This poem first appeared in Washing the Color of Water Golden, edited and compiled by C. E. Laine. The publisher is Sun-Rising Press. Proceeds go for relief of victims of Hurricane Katrina.
You stand before you fall
on the scrubbed white square
you call your kitchen.
Behind on the rent, of course.
Why you take in ironing
and keep this child
whose mother gallivants.
Starved yellow sun peeks
through bite-size windows
you curtained off white
by hanging rags along string
from a ball saved knot by knot.
White flour, white table,
white sheets you have piled
in a basket you call bicker.
Other color is cinnamon.
For snails! Just take the scraps
of rolled-out dough got cut
off of a rhubarb pie and dot butter
‘roun’. Sugar comes next.
I’m a good sprinkler, you say.
Tomorrow, you believe
you will wash my hair. The pail
under the rain spout almost full
when you looked. Who needs
shampoo when you’ve got goo
from soap slivers in a Ball jar
on your sink? People you work
for never heard Waste not want
not? Don’t forget to add
a little vinegar to the last rinse.
Shine on the darkest day. . .
from "Ink Drawing, Brown and White."
Discover and Celebrate!
In Phyllis Jean Green's ABOVE AND BELOW readers discover and celebrate the voice of an exceptional modern poet whose work and words drench suffering with compassion, history with relevance, and human love with soulful depth. This is a title to greedily savor for onself and to make a gift of to others--something we especially should not overlook as we observe National Poetry Month.
Aberjhani -"Best Poet/Spoken Word Artist” CONNECT SAVANNAH
Review by John Amen, The Pedestal Magazine
I sat outside yesterday and read the collection in its entirety, twice. I like these pieces very much! Many of the pieces have that wonderful epistolary style that I mentioned to you before. You employ that approach so well--a kind of informality, an organic flow. I really sensed that in the opening poem as well as in various parts of many other poems. I enjoyed "Recovery, Phase II," the melancholy philosophy of "Comeback!," "Ink Drawing." Of course, it was great to see "Aliases Tackle..." again. I like that poem very much. "Twilight to Who Knew..." strikes me as a very poignant and sincere piece, and I appreciated it's directness. "Zoo-Logic" struck me as somewhat whimsical, which I appreciated very much, too. I think the final poem, "Hope," carries a powerful and encouraging message and is a great way to close the collection.
I'm glad that Pudding House put this collection out.
John Amen, Publisher of The Pedestal Magazine, Poet, Author, Musician, and Artist http://www.johnamen.com
Review by R.C. Rutherford, The Moonwort Review
When I first published Phyllis Jean Green’s poetry, I thought she was in her 20’s. Her poetry exhibits a youthful and energetic voice, often interesting and humorous. It is that voice moving from soulful to sophisticated that captures my attention and admiration.
Robert Rutherford, former editor of The Moonwort Review
Reviews for "Above and Below"
|Reviewed by Jen Knox
|I bought your book when I was brand new to AD, and I love it. You inspire me.
|Reviewed by Elizabeth Price
|I read this book and was thoroughly entranced. Truly original, diverse and compassionate. A thoroughly passionate write. Excellent. Liz
For a more informed review go to my website.
|Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
Congratulations! This is a book I would love to read.
(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.
|Reviewed by Marcia Duning (Reader)
|Thank you, Pod. Arrived today with more book markers[inside joke]
ATC was mentioned and I thank you
|Reviewed by Aberjhani
|In Phyllis Jean Green's ABOVE AND BELOW readers discover and celebrate the voice of an exceptional modern poet whose work and words drench suffering with compassion, history with relevance, and human love with soulful depth. This is a title to greedily savor for oneself and to make a gift of to others--something we especially should not overlook as we observe National Poetry Month.
|Reviewed by Carole Mathys
|A heartfelt Congratulations, looking forward to reading more...
|Reviewed by Constance Gotsch
|This one's got a fightin' spirit. good job|
|Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor (Reader)
|Reviewed by Felix Perry
|Congratulations and wishes for continued sucess in this and all of your literary endeavors dear friend...sounds and reads like a winner.
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Phyllis Jean Green