Wisconsin poet Mary Jo Balistreri was a concert pianist before entering the literary arena, and the words of her first book, Joy in the Morning, flow as melodiously as any Brahms concerto. Richly layered with color and detail, and brushed with poignancy and perspective, these poems give glimpses of a world we all know--one filled with pleasure, pain, rapture, regret, love, loss, and celebration. Here's an excerpt:
Canticle to the Setting Sun
Mary Jo Balistreri
High in my tree-top gazebo, I nest
among gray squirrels, watch cardinals
fly and blue jays fuss and flutter.
Yellow-robed finches harmonize elaborate duets
while a grosbeak sings solo. As an orchestra tunes
before evening performance, each sound intones
a distinct timber. The air hushes
and the ceremony of the sun begins. The sky
colors quietly, opens with chords of peach,
lavender and vermillion. Arches and beams
of hickory and oak soften. The leafy green entablature,
like the mossed limestone, whispers wind and waves.
The wafer of light deepens to blood red. Its slow descent
to the sea becomes the bread and wine of nature.
The ritual complete,
chipmunks burrow home while bird chant fades
into memory. Crickets and hoot owls awaken.
A German shepherd barks. Finally the mind quiets
and there is a moment of no sound. Fireflies flicker,
candling the dark. Only the hummer's sweet syrup
hangs unchanged. Ruby red, it witnesses day's death,
its rebirth, catches the first glimmer of dawn.
From Joy in the Morning (Bellowing Ark Press)