phanaerozoic

Musings about life on Earth in all its aspects…

Category: Poetry

My Interview by Miranda Erickson Kendall of the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library

Thanks to Miranda for her interviewing skills.

Here is a link to the interview:

https://tscpl.org/books-movies-music/roy-beckemeyer

Please join me and Leah Sewell on April 26, 2017 at the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library’s Poetry Month event.

 

Roy Beckemeyer, April, 2017

Notes from the past – posts moved from my “Music I Once Could Dance To” WordPress site – from July 24, 2015

I was thrilled to be notified by Lindsey Martin-Bowen that she had reviewed my first poetry book, “Music I Once Could Dance To,” in goodreads.  I am including here a link to the original review, and I have also, with her permission, pasted the review here.Thanks, Lindsey. I feel humbled and honored to have had these words penned about my book. Bless you.

ORIGINAL REVIEW On goodreads LINK HERE.

Lindsey’s review Jul 23, 2015
5 of 5 stars
Read in July, 2015

Review: Beckemeyer, Roy J. Music I Once Could Dance To.
Lawrence: Coal City Review Press, 2014, paper. ISBN 978-0-9795844-8-0. $10.

Even if Roy J. Beckemeyer spent most of his life as an aeronautical engineer, he has maintained a poet’s soul and uses poet’s tools—a descriptive, honest voice, vivid imagery, and rhythmic sounds—to generate a sense of characters and of place, some of which no longer exist. Nevertheless, his lyrical poems transport the reader not only to areas in the Midwestern landscape but to a less harried time.

For example, in the poem “Owl,” the reader can sense the elegiac longing for an earlier era in the Midwest landscape (and perhaps in our society nationwide). The bird becomes an emblem of a dying way of life:

. . . the universal truth of a broken owl
suddenly shattered by a strand of barbed wire,
gone from magnificent pursuer to wheeling
wreck of hollow bones, his wing flailing, cloud
of down and feathers floating like incense . . . (l. 1-5 ).

Beckemeyer presents the poem containing the book’s title first, in the section he named “invocation,” a request to God (and/or the muses) to lure the reader into a dance of words to ensure that it be guided by the Divine—or at least, supernatural forces beyond our material world. And his poetry creates music with its alliteration and rhythms. Although he continues the music metaphor in the titles of the book’s five sections (invocation, exposition, theme, variations, recapitulation), his engineering background appears when he weaves in scientific terms without destroying the poem’s rhythm. For instance, in the final poem, “We Discuss the Geomorphology of Life,” he notes “It’s called saltation, I said,/when grains of sand are picked up by the wind/and blown along, dislodging other grains. . . .” (l. 1-3).

Beckemeyer has lived in Kansas most of his life but isn’t a native. He spent his early years in Illinois. Those years etched intriguing imagery into his memories, which unfold often in his poetry. In “A Year in Small-Town Illinois: 1953 in Tanka,” his imagery leads the reader through the calendar via tankas (five-line poems in syllabic counts of 5/7/5/7/7 with the last two lines showing a “turn” from the beginning three). He wrote a tanka for each month. Some of them illustrate life in Illinois, such as the February tanka:

skating on Shoal Creek
ice cracks like a rifle shot
and transforms us both
from skaters into swimmers
huddled steaming by the fire (l. 1-5).

Others, such as the March tanka about the 1950s television show, “Sky King,” could occur anywhere in the nation during that era:

Sky King’s niece Penny
in that twin-engine Cessna
Saturday mornings
twelve year old boys dream about
pony-tailed girls and flying (l. 1-5)

Beckemeyer brings small surprises with the imagery, too. He illustrates the dance theme in unexpected ways, such as when he describes his wife, Pat, in “At Watermark Books Before the Reading.” He studies her as if she were dancing, “. . .your hands held out before you/as if they are dowsing sticks” (l. 4-5). And he notes “You always do that,/your hands dipping and bobbing/to the hidden rush of words” (l. 6-9).

In a similar vein, “Picking-at-Scabs Blues” in the same section not only picks up on bluesy rhythms, it, too, contains a dance description of the blues performer:

his hands would flutter,
open and closed,
open and closed,
catching at air coming
through the harp
and thrumming it there, (l. 26-31).

Indeed, this collection of poems not only shares the landscape with other descriptions in “Tornado Warnings” and “Nebraska Morning,” its dance-themed poems, such as “Initiation Song from the Prairie,” “Centering” and “Falling,” along with those previously mentioned, lead the reader through dancing lessons and create a music that many of us can still dance to today.

– Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Notes from the past – posts moved from my “Music I Once Could Dance To” WordPress site – from July 10, 2015

Thanks to Emma Lee for reviewing my book and to Sam Smith, Editor/Publisher of “The Journal”, for publishing same and for sending me a pdf file of the issue.

Here is Emma’s review, which appears on pp. 24-25 of the issue:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes from the past – posts moved from my “Music I Once Could Dance To” WordPress site – from June 17, 2015

IMG_0450 (2)

Poet Al Ortolani reviewed “Music I Once Could Dance To” in the June 16, 2015 issue of the On-line Lit Journal WORD RIOT.

I was very pleased to see Al’s review, as I have long admired his work. Thanks, Al.

Click HERE to link to the review.

– Roy Beckemeyer

Notes from the past – posts moved from my “Music I Once Could Dance To” WordPress site – from July 9, 2014

Great fun at the Lit Crawl in Independence, Kansas on July 7th, 2014. Got to read at the Independence Pharmacy, and listeners received free soda fountain drinks while the reading went on. Even sold some books. Thanks to Lori Baker Martin for inviting me to take place in this event and for spearheading the whole festival. Don’t know how she finds the time, but so glad she does.

Two “In Depth” Pieces for Whispering Prairie Press’s Blog

Pleased to kick off Whispering Prairie Press‘s “In Depth” blog series with two items on aspects of the craft of poetry: One on the use of epigraphs (http://www.wppress.org/theme-and-variations-epigraphs-and-poems/) and the other on Poetry and Memoir (http://www.wppress.org/poetry-memoir-and-biomythography/).

Hope you link, read and enjoy.

 

  • Roy Beckemeyer, 23 September, 2016

Links to My Poetry Posted On Line

Here are links to various poems of mine that may be found on the internet.

“Pink Angels” (After De Kooning’s 1954 painting of the same name), May 12, 2016, The Ekphrastic Review: writing and art on art and writing (On-line literary journal):

http://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic/pink-angels-by-roy-beckemeyer

 

“Imbrued Angels” (After Simberg’s 1902 painting, “The Wounded Angel”), Feb 20, 2016, The Ekphrastic Review: writing and art on art and writing (On-line literary journal):

http://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic/imbrued-angels-by-roy-beckemeyer

 

“Jacob’s Angels” (After Marc Chagall’s 1977 print, “Jacob’s Dream”), Feb 25, 2016, The Ekphrastic Review: writing and art on art and writing (On-line literary journal):

http://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic/jacobs-angels-by-roy-beckemeyer

 

“Angel, Falling” (After Jagoda Buic’s woven sculpture “Fallen Angel, 1967), The Ekphrastic Review: writing and art on art and writing (On-line literary journal):

http://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic/angel-falling-by-roy-beckemeyer

 

“Skull of Sirius, Crossbones of Cassiopeia”

“The Chase”

“Daylight’s Starring Role”

“Sunset”

“Magisterial Moon”

All five poems published on The Syzygy Poetry Journal, Issue 3, April 4, 2016

https://fulguria.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/roy-beckemeyer/

 

“Cerebellum’s Fire” – Winner of the 2016 Kansas Voices Poetry Award, May 7, 2016. Posted on my blog, Phanaerozoic:

https://phanaerozoic.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/2016-kansas-voices-contest/

 

“fifteen panes of glass” – 3rd place winner of Zingara Poet 2016 Haiku Contest, Jan 2016:

https://zingarapoet.net/2016/01/24/haiku-contest-winners/

 

“Stand By Me” – pif Magazine (On-line Journal) Feb 1, 2016

http://www.pifmagazine.com/2016/02/stand-by-me/

 

“Fables for Children of the North” (Silver Birch Press – Mythic Poetry Series) Oct 28, 2014

https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/fables-for-children-of-the-north-poem-by-roy-j-beckemeyer-mythic-poetry-series/

 

“At Night in the Southern Rockies”

“Currents”

“Canada Bound”

All three poems excerpted from my book, Music I Once Could Dance To, at the web page We Wanted To Be Writers, Sep 15, 2014

http://wewantedtobewriters.com/2014/09/excerpt-from-roy-beckemeyers-debut-poetry-collection/#.VBbUz6hRwis.facebook

 

 

“Lessons”

“Oh, Come Share”

Both appeared on The Light Ekphrastic web site Aug 20, 2014:

http://thelightekphrastic.com/issues/august-2014-issue-19/beckemeyer-and-wood-aug-2014/

 

“Front doors” – a cinquain published as part of Kansas Poet Laureate Wyatt Townely’s Homewords Project. Published Apr 2014:

http://kansashumanities.org/v2/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/HW_BeckemeyerSchultz.pdf

 

“Cancion De Amor” – Kansas Humanities Pin-up Poetry, April 2014

https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/550424385680146433/?from_navigate=true

“Lincoln’s Horse” – Kansas Humanities Pin-up Poetry, April 2014

https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/550424385680268124/

“For a Distant Friend” – Kansas Humanities Pin-up Poetry, April 2014

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/550424385680146430/

“Prayer of Letting Go” – Kansas Humanities Pin-up Poetry, April 2014

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/550424385680146415/

“Under the cold moon” – haiku – Kansas Humanities Council Pin-up Poetry, April 2014

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/550424385680119958/

“Hymnal” – Kansas Humanities Council Pin-up Poetry, April 2014

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/550424385680153894/

 

“Train Sounds” – Straylight Magazine On-line, April 28, 2014

http://straylightmag.com/archives/4944

 

“Lessons”

“Tree Shadows”

Both at my entry on Map of Kansas Literature

http://www.washburn.edu/reference/cks/mapping/beckemeyer/index.html

 

“Oceans of Kansas” Feb 24, 2014, Kansas Time + Place

https://150kansaspoems.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/oceans-of-kansas-by-roy-beckmeyer/

“Initiation Song from the Prairie” Dec 2, 2013, Kansas Time + Place

https://150kansaspoems.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/initiation-song-from-the-prairie-by-roy-j-beckemeyer/

“Encore” Aug 11, 2014, Kansas Time + Place

https://150kansaspoems.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/encore-by-roy-beckemeyer/

“After the Storm” Mar 3, 2014, Kansas Time + Place

https://150kansaspoems.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/after-the-storm-by-roy-beckemeyer/

“KaSantatieh” Feb 11, 2013, Kansas Time + Place

https://150kansaspoems.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/ka%C2%B7santatieh-by-roy-beckemeyer/

“A Kansas Farmwife’s Snow Song” Nov 19, 2011, Kansas Time + Place

https://150kansaspoems.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/a-kansas-farmwifes-snow-song/

“We Discuss the Geomorphology of Life” Apr 5, 2011, Kansas Time + Place

https://150kansaspoems.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/43/

 

 

“In Kansas to Stay” Kansas Poems

http://www.kansaspoets.com/ks_poems/Kansas%20Poems%20-%20Page%205.htm#in_kansas

2016 Kansas Voices Contest

Pleased to report that my poems, “Staying Warm,” and “Cerebellum’s Fire,” won first place in the Free Verse and Traditional Poetry categories, respectively, in the 27th Annual Kansas Voices Writing Contest. “Cerebellum’s Fire” also took the Overall Award for Poetry.

 

image   – Roy Beckemeyer

Ways of the Wind

In Volume 12 (2014) of Kansas City Voices, my poem, “Ways of the Wind,” inspired by a vivid image described by poet Xanath Caraza in a few lines of her poem, “Matilde en la Hamaca,” appeared on page 74. I am reprinting it here as an example of the use of an epigraph and how that epigraph can illuminate the interplay between the visions of two poets.

Ways of the Wind

“There she was
In her yellow dress
And her hair open to adventure…”
Xanath Caraza, from the poem
“Matilde en la Hamaca”

The wind had its way with her hair,
made it flow and twist, turned
its movements liquid, its strands
currents of streams braiding
the valley of the Brahmaputra.

The wind had its way with her hair,
brushed it with bergamot
oils from Calabria,
bathed it in the moist breaths
of benedictions, prayers
for intercession mouthed by
processions of faithful
in the plaza Catedral Basílica
de la Virgen de la Asunción
.

The wind had its way with her hair,
used it, strand by strand, to catch
all the hues of a Sinai sunset,
as if it were yarn carded
for a coat of many colors.

The wind had its way with her hair,
sent it searching the leniency
of her neck, the Sahara slopes of
her shoulders, had it conform
to its caresses, its advances, its
countless ways with love.

– Roy Beckemeyer

A Christmas Memory in Poetry – “Christmas Interregnum”

Thanks to Nancy Julien Kopp for her reminder to us all to write down our Christmas memories for our children and grandchildren. Here is my 2010 poem, “Christmas Interregnum.”

Looking like the last
Of the three Magi
My brother trudges through snow
Behind our two sisters.
His left mitten
Trails behind,
Tethered to him
By yarn the color
Of the cedars of Lebanon.

A rookery of nuns
Awaits us in the schoolyard,
The black of their
Black and white habits
Stark against the white,
The white blending with the snow.
Black veils over white wimples
Make them look like
The penguins in our geography books.

Morning Mass is full of the smells
Of evergreen boughs and beeswax,
Incense and wet wool,
And the lemony oil our mothers used
To wax the pews.
We stand, sit and kneel
With our hands folded
While the snowflakes
Studding our caps and coats
Slump and melt,
Beading our clothes with droplets
That briefly encapsulate
The warm light of Christmas candles
In their round cold wetness
Before dripping off
To puddle on the slate floor.

Through ice-sparkled
Schoolroom windows,
We watch the wasted brilliance
Of winter’s first snow;
Having to go to school
A whole half-day
Before the holiday vacation
Is penance enough
Without this purgatory.
But the wait for morning recess
Is just a small preview,
A preparation,
A prediction
Of the longer wait awaiting us
On Christmas Eve.

At last Sister Michael takes up
The hand bell.
Holding it in both hands,
She fills the hall
With its brass reverberations
And we are rescued,
Reclaimed,
Resuscitated by recess.

The ceremony of pulling on
Still-wet coats and mittens,
Ear-flapped hats
That tie under our chins,
And squeaky-wet galoshes,
Is completed in record time.
We all know that
Snow down the neck
Awaits any slowpoke straggler.

Facing an untrodden school yard
In black rubber boots
Is like having
A clean white page of paper
And a newly sharpened
Ticonderoga # 2 pencil in your hand.

The pent-up pressure
Of seventy-three kids
In single-file best-behavior
In the nun-lined hallways
Propels us out the door
And down the steps
Into a jostling chaos
Of splendid, snowy exuberance.
Soon snow angels
And snow-tag wheels
And names written in snow
Are everywhere and the snow
That isn’t packed down by feet
Is filling up boots,
Being rubbed in faces,
Rolled into balls
Or flung into the air.

By the time Father Schoen arrives.
Smelling of cigars and mothballs,
With the cold outside air still clinging
To his black clothes,
Our splotchy red cheeks,
Still cold as snowballs,
Are the only sign of recess
Remaining in the classroom.

He will quiz us on the Catechism,
Twisting the cheeks of those
Who can’t answer correctly,
Or quickly enough,
Between his thumb and index finger,
Marking them as the reddest
Of the red cheeked students
Of St. Anthony’s Parochial School.

At long last noon arrives,
And with it St. Nicholas,
Appropriately announced
By Sister Michael’s bell.
His red vestments and red mitre
And golden crosier
Light the classroom
Like a blazing Yule-log.

He gives us each a gift:
A brown paper bag
Holding a juicy fresh orange,
A polished red apple,
A candy cane,
And a picture of the Nativity scene,
Blessed by St. Nicholas himself.
Then he makes the Sign of the Cross
Over our heads with his
Ringed right hand,
Blessing us as well.

Going home, we can no longer tell
The street from the sidewalk,
The sidewalk from the yards,
And after a block
It is so cold
That the snow does not melt
As it falls thickly onto our treat bags.
Children drift off
In all directions,
Bundles of dark wool,
Against the bright whiteness.

My brother calls out
“Wait for me”
To my sisters;
His mitten is again
Tobogganing behind him
As he catches snowflake
After snowflake
In his small bare hand,
Delighting in each unique,
Ephemeral,
Christmas treasure.

The air is full of snowflakes,
Full of the smell
Of the freshly broken orange in my hand,
Full at last of the promise,
The certainty,
The familiar and longed-for
Reign of Christmastime.

by Roy Beckemeyer, December, 2010

Posted December, 2015