I live and write in West Caldwell, NJ. As the community Poet Laureate, I run two annual events: Girl Talk: A Poetry Reading in Celebration of Women’s History Month and the West Caldwell Poetry Festival. I am the author of The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop (Wind Publications, 2013) and four poetry books, most recently The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement. My previous books are Temptation by Water, What Feeds Us, which received the 2006 Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize, and Eve's Red Dress. My poems have been included in such journals as Harvard Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. My work has also been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Gwarlingo, and The Writer’s Almanac. I send out a free monthly Poetry Newsletter to which anyone may subscribe via my blog, Blogalicious:http://www.dianelockward.blogspot.com/
My Husband Discovers Poetry
Because my husband would not read my poems,
I wrote one about how I did not love him.
In lines of strict iambic pentameter,
I detailed his coldness, his lack of humor.
It felt good to do this.
Stanza by stanza, I grew bolder and bolder.
Towards the end, struck by inspiration,
I wrote about my old boyfriend,
a boy I had not loved enough to marry
but who could make me laugh and laugh.
I wrote about a night years after we parted
when my husband’s coldness drove me from the house
and back to my old boyfriend.
I even included the name of a seedy motel
well-known for hosting quickies.
I have a talent for verisimilitude.
In sensuous images, I described
how my boyfriend and I stripped off our clothes,
got into bed, and kissed and kissed,
then spent half the night telling jokes,
many of them about my husband.
I left the ending deliberately ambiguous,
then hid the poem away
in an old trunk in the basement.
You know how this story ends,
how my husband one day loses something,
goes into the basement,
and rummages through the old trunk,
how he uncovers the hidden poem
and sits down to read it.
But do you hear the strange sounds
that floated up the stairs that day,
the sounds of an animal, its paw caught
in one of those traps with teeth of steel?
Do you see the wounded creature
at the bottom of the stairs,
his shoulders hunched over and shaking,
fist in his mouth and choking back sobs?
It was my husband paying tribute to my art.
— from Eve’s Red Dress (Wind Publications, 2003)
My Arty Ars Poetica: A Cento
…poets pretend they don’t know anything about their own writing
processes and get arty and mysterious when asked about it…
—Kenny Williams, Rattle
I was raised in Abilene. More chickens than humans
down there. Worked construction, captured moments,
created stories. It was solitary work. Below the Blue
Ridge Mountains loved a man with a gnarly beard.
I’m pathologically nice. My brother has perfect pitch.
I write to one-up him. I use an assumed voice, am
learning the names of things, and can’t stop—I have
obsessive-compulsive disorder. Once threatened
in a beer joint in Arkansas. Spent hours among tall bolts
of fabric, tins of loose buttons, and leftover notions. My
words are knotted twine. Call it a reinvention. Walked
a peach orchard alone at night and saw the Milky Way,
felt freighted with a sense of mortality. Sleep sounds
like a pleasant dream. Cut my musical teeth in the jungle.
This is my singing, my attempt to insulate the violence,
to euphemize the shooting. Misery is universal. The only
math I know is balance. This is my way of preserving
memory. I make beautiful the moments of terror.
—from The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement (Wind Publications, 2016)
©2016 Diane Lockward