It is April of 2012. Apryl Skies is the featured poet at UNBUCKLED: NOHO POETRY in North Hollywood. As she reads her work tenderly and truthfully there is not a whisper among the gathered poets. A bomb could go off and Skies, of Sherman Oaks, would still have an audience. After she finishes reading, I give Skies a hug which she returns.
An Apryl for April.
Flash forward to January of this year and Moby's coffee house in North Hollywood. Skies, also a freelance journalist (Examiner.com), features again in her down-to-earth sensitive manner. She is a big hit. And admits for the first time, in this poet's presence, that she has had at least one poem nominated for a Pushcart Prize, an award given by small presses to outstanding poetry contained in their pages.
Skies, for the first time, mentions the apple of her eye, a brand new anthology of contemporary literature which she has co-edited with fellow poet Alicia Winski.
Verses and poems tangle with time. Alliteration and onomatopoeia do battle with rhyme. Assonance and imagery stop on the dime. And through it all the vulnerability bellows and the suffering bends but does not break.
This is "Men In The Company Of Women: A Provocative Anthology Of Praise And Persuasion." A collection written by over 100 male writers from across the globe, it opens each reader's psyche and soul, and burns a vision like the mid-afternoon sun on their being, now and forever.
Men needing women, libidos needing comfort, souls needing soothing. And through it all a vibrant chord of tolerance, understanding, deep comprehension and courageous meatloaf for dinner.
Published by Edgar and Lenore's Publishing House in Sherman Oaks, the anthology contains nearly 400 pages of poetry, short stories and memoir.
But this is not your momma's everyday run-of-the-mill collection, this tome bites and grabs, tames and caresses for at the center of it are men writing about women and how they have affected their lives.
Take this poem as a for instance:
You were looking at the moon,
or perhaps you were bored.
Nevertheless, the window owned your eyes
as you stared.
And there and then
a wide streak, a pale imprint
or glow washed over you in a kind of regal holiness,
revealing the landscape of your freckled flesh,
your skin a palace for the softest kisses,
mane of hair mid-spine,
woven it seemed out of sweet summer grass.
There is not a natural rescue in this drama,
no reason on earth why you should forgive me,
yet I'll lift my face and ask anyway:
By Len Kuntz
Words woven like thunderbolts. Anger imprinted on love. Maybe there is more to this poetry thing than luck and inspiration.
There is not one bad poem in this book. Not one false moment that doesn't make you feel or think, not one uninspired brushstroke or unforgiven master.
It is as if the poets knew the poems would be included in an anthology when they wrote them, when they scribbled their feelings across the sky, penned them onto pale parchment or inked them into notebook soliloquies.
Skies and Winski have done a top-notch job of picking poems that are true to the theme of the collection. It seems as if they have golden hearts as well as golden instincts.
The hook slicks in.
How easily she snags.
How tightly she tugs.
She knows no surrender.
Long in exile, she returns,
To lead you to forgotten rooms.
In a careless moment
She sucks the tongue from your mouth.
Coils it round your demon need,
Slips it back behind your lips.
You swallow her hard.
Scornfully, she sniggers at you.
Knows that you can't do without her.
In spite of your painstaking
She washes over your mind like an old friend,
With the comforting allure of a new lover.
And she's back with her pedicure
In the ring of your desires;
Your powerless soul at prayer
Under the Gothic arch of her painted foot.
By Arne Torneck
These poems are made of finest alabaster with a hint of lavender, cinnamon. and vanilla.
They slide through heaven like John the Baptist's baby and are as easy to spot as alligators at a railroad crossing.
Skies and Winski prove that more can be, well, more as each poem here does not fail the old literary test, "show, but don't tell." The sensitiviy is profound, depth real and humanity arcing.
What more could you ask from the written word? After all, there is no X Box present, no TIVO, Twitter or ESPN. Only the written word in all its history and glory, potency and preparation.
And, oh what an anthology it drives.
One last poem:
WOMEN WHO WALK LIKE MEN
They seem to be everywhere now,
women who walk like men.
With hair cropped in a paint brush,
bullets for eyes and knives for noses,
they walk long halls, hips so still
they can have no pelvis.
Then one day you meet one
and become her friend.
A week later you still wonder:
Are all the women who walk like men
locked in a hothouse,
craving the sun?
By Donal Mahoney
The book launch for this work is Jan. 30.
Oh, by the way, I have three poems included in this collection.
If you are interested in buyng a copy and to learn more about each of the contributors go to www.EdgarAllanPoet.com