National Poetry Month Spotlight: Maggie Schwed

Welcome to National Poetry Month, 2015! We’re celebrating all month long. Each day we will bring you a poem we love–a selection from one of our published or forthcoming collections. In turn, the featured poets will introduce poems they love. Happy April!
Today’s featured poet is Maggie Schwed, author of Driving to the Bees.
Schwed CoverRemembrancer:  then, then, more recently
I think of you, though you have so little evidence.
We could perhaps resort to emphatic swearing as an icebreaker.
The weeks keep disappearing.  Do you (or do you not) swim?
I am much troubled by a decline in my wits and think
better night breathing might restore what time, hormones
and lax living have taken from me.  Always the optimist.
A fat cicada lay upside down this morning on the path.
I prodded it gently.  The bulbous green body, buzzing.
I picked it up by its strong wings and tossed it into the air.
It recovered, righting itself, and flew importantly into the woods.
For news—opened a window above my head at 3 a.m.
Air came in, wet from a mountain storm.  It’s early but
I’m thinking a glass of wine wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Or I could commit a violent act of housekeeping.
You are welcome at any instant.  I always expect you.
Thunder is beginning to roll here.  Halfheartedly,
the versifiers have been defending free verse again.
If only one could nick off that coating of piety.
I say fuck ’em.  Or did you say that?  At any rate
do not put me on your list of things to do; no need.
This heat drills me into the house.  Nothing is perfect,
I can imagine you saying.  Are you there?  Today
I hope to spend a lot of time with a hose and shovel.
What is a writer without a retentive mind?  When I
go after it, the ground is strewn with bits of armor,
old weapons, trampled grass.  Sometimes there’s a sound
of vigorous battle just ahead.  More often, ominous silence.
That last shot of coffee supported me like iron!
As to the garden, nasturtiums are megalomanic, colonizers.
Nor is there any hint of death.  Well, this one:
I caught a fish.  Panting, gold-colored, it lay
on the rocks at my feet.  Then a sorry scene of murder,
the gills flexing on my fingers as I carried it home
to gut.   Is there a way to speak of politics,
other than yelling?  Opportunists & thugs.
Fanatics.  For motive, lucre with a dash of fame.
A pair of bleating fawns takes over the yard at dusk.
Oh but they clobber the garden with those dainty lips.
To look larger than life I pursue them with a newspaper
spread wide in my hands.  Amusement would seem
to account for how they lope off in different directions,
wisely, just when I’m upon them.  Yesterday I woke up
to a bird well beyond a sparrow – a real songbird
going at it in the back gardens between buildings.
I revive with every degree. The grass now long and dark
lies down under the wind in patterns.  You could say
I’m letting time get away from me.
Maggie has chosen to introduce “Essay on Wood” by James Richardson.
She says: I have only been aware of James Richardson’s poems for the last couple of years, and find them meditative and spiced with wit. Something strikes his receptive senses (the sound of a boat bumping the dock) and prompts an exploration of its metaphysics, its implications for human beings, human bodies and spirits. The music of the line, pace of delivery, control, surprise – all delivering, opening more space in the reader.
Maggiephoto1Winner of The Malahat Review’s 2011 Long Poem Contest, Maggie Schwed is a livestock farm hand with Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York. Her chapbook, Out of Season, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2008. Her first full-length book of poems, Driving to the Bees was published in 2014 by Black Lawrence Press. Recently, some of her poems have been used in a choral composition by Nancy Wertsch, called “Walking the Melt,” which will have its premiere in May, 2015. Her website is