The cruelest month by Donna Snyder

The cruelest month
In memory of Jesús Guzmán
April winds rage in with a renegade posse of dust,
weather’s bad boys intent on stealing a body’s air.
And one cruel April, Jesús was killed on Easter Monday.
Day after resurrection Sunday, he fell from Jacob’s Ladder.
It was the sudden stop that killed him.
Undoubtedly ¡Ay cabrón! frozen on his lips when he hit the ground,
a tiny blood red rose quivering alone in the wind-blasted dirt.
Jesús killed, an angel fallen from the heavens.
Declared dead on the scene, mad scientists shocked him
until his heart resumed its beat, like all fallen angels
determined to return to lost paradise.
Declared dead at the scene on Easter Monday.
Declared dead in ICU on Tuesday afternoon.
Then on the third day they took away his tubes and wires,
and his heart beat for another hour.

He fought Miss Death until they declared him dead
all over again.
No resurrection,
except in the memories of children he taught to be poets,
or the minds of workers who crossed the borders
from there to here.
He crossed over from this life to the next one,
neither from here nor from over there.
And the mesas crashed onto the freeway like waves.
The spring night bled teardrops like falling stars
because he’s still cheated of air.
Cheated of words.
Cheated of life.
The world cheated of him and his corazón, too soon.
Jesús was killed on Easter Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday.
His heart tan fuerte it took three times to kill him.

His death scene punctuated by the street’s beat
and the lullabies of the bereft.
Now the world is so cold and lonely in April,
when the winds carry the spirits of dead vatos to remind us
just how cruel a month can really be.

Published in Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press, New York 2014)

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El Paso Times Review of my book, Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal

http://www.elpasotimes.com/living/ci_27760627/through-grieving-process-step-by-step-and-poem

Through the grieving process, step by step and poem by poem

March 21, 2015

El Paso Times

Donna J. Snyder’s new work, “Poemas Ante El Catafalco: Grief and Renewal” (Chimbarazu Press), is a work about intimate desolation and poignant recovery.

The poems document Snyder’s travel through the hard processes of grieving after the passing of her beloved, the renowned El Paso artist Mario Colin.

Much as in her first collection, “I Am South,” Snyder uses straightforward imagery and unpretentious phrasing to drive her work from start to finish. It is the power of this simplicity and knack for a good turn of phrase that invites the reader to step inside her journey.

Snyder does not overwhelm, but rather coaxes one along with melodic wording, vivid imagery and religious symbolism.

In her poem “Lamentation”:

I am the stigmata in Jesus’ hands & feet,

Purple flesh a cup for putrefaction.

I am the green odor emanating from his god’s wounds.

Jesus has delivered his painful flesh and ravished spirit

Into the faithful arms of Morfeo.

Sleep is his only friend,

Oblivion his only love.

I am the despair that compels his hand

To mutilate his own flesh.

I am the mutilated flesh.

I am the sad blood singing him to sleep.

I am the sad blood.

I am the blood on Jesus’ hands.

I am the lonely earth

Beneath his feet.

In each poem, Snyder subtly shifts between the mystical and the commonplace, between the abstract and the detailed, between shifting moments of anxiety and rebirth, in what seems like an effortless and seamless flow.

In “We got married on Día de los Muertos,” Snyder superbly blends all her elements:

We got married on Day of the Dead,

We clung to each other like tattoos,

Calaveras dancing in wedding clothes.

Roses hung across the breast of death.

The smell of dampness dissipated.

Darkness became light.

Each poem is a complete work of art that can stand alone.

Snyder has also mastered the short poem, streaming her imageries, line by line, like counterpoint melodies playing off each other; very haiku-like. In “Green is a fine way”:

A mockingbird sings through the humid evening,

The smell of oleander dizzies the dancers into silence.

There is a magic door in a leaf-crept wall, green with portent.

Only the gravest ill can justify such anguish.

The way to the other side is through the ancient door.

Green is a fine way to end one’s days.

At times, “Grief and Renewal” reads like a poetic novella, bringing the reader, poem by poem, along a sequential journey of healing. Snyder’s new work is risky in its edginess with the use of such dark thematic material. Again, nothing is overplayed.

If poets, traditionally, have one, or perhaps even two, defining works, “Grief and Renewal” certainly ranks as a seminal work for Snyder. Her first work, “I Am South,” has an earthy quality and a professional feel to it. “I Am South” is a good and competent work. However, “Grief and Renewal” packs a hard punch and flirts with greatness.

After reading “Grief and Renewal,” well, count me as a fan.

Lawrence Barrett is an El Paso poet and musician.

Poemas ante el Catafalco:  Grief and Renewal Cover art is

Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal
Cover art is “Angel in Decline,” by Victor Hernández

Lawrence Barrett’s review of Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal

https://www.facebook.com/SlimGizzardz?fref=photo

Slim Gizzards Poetry Review

Review: Poemas Ante El Catafalco: Grief and Renewal; by Donna J. Snyder; Chimbarazu Press; NY; 2014; $16.00. Reviewed by Lawrence Barrett

Donna J. Snyder’s new work, Poemas Ante El Catafalco: Grief and Renewal, is a work about intimate desolation, and, poignant recovery. Snyder travels through the hard processes of grieving due to the passing of her beloved, Mario Colin, renowned El Paso artist and local legend. Much like her first work, I Am South, Snyder uses straightforward imagery and unpretentious phrasing to drive her work from start to finish. It is the power of this simplicity and a knack for a good turn of phrase that invites the reader to step inside her journey of Grief and Renewal and experience a sensitivity of expression that exists solely in the travail of somber aftermath. Snyder does not overwhelm but rather coaxes one along with melodic wording, vivid imagery and religious symbolism:
Lamentation
I am the stigmata in Jesus’ hands & feet,
Purple flesh a cup for putrefaction.
I am the green odor emanating from his god’s wounds.
Jesus has delivered his painful flesh and ravished spirit
Into the faithful arms of Morfeo.
Sleep is his only friend,
Oblivion his only love.

I am the despair that compels his hand
To mutilate his own flesh.
I am the mutilated flesh.
I am the sad blood singing him to sleep.
I am the sad blood.
I am the blood on Jesus’ hands.
I am the lonely earth
Beneath his feet.

In each poem Snyder subtly shifts between the mystical and the commonplace; between the abstract and the detailed; between shifting moments of anxiety and rebirth in what seems like an effortless and seamless flow. “We got married on Dia de los Muertos,” Snyder superbly blends all her elements:
We got married on Day of the Dead,
We clung to each other like tattoos,
Calaveras dancing in wedding clothes.
Roses hung across the breast of death.
The smell of dampness dissipated.
Darkness became light.

Each poem is a complete work of art that can stand alone. Snyder has also mastered the short poem, streaming her imageries, line by line, like counterpoint melodies playing off each other; very haiku-like.
Green is a fine way

A mockingbird sings through the humid evening,
The smell of oleander dizzies the dancers into silence.
There is a magic door in a leaf-crept wall, green with portent.

Only the gravest ill can justify such anguish.
The way to the other side is through the ancient door.
Green is a fine way to end one’s days.

At times Grief and Renewal reads like a poetic novella, bringing the reader, poem by poem, along a sequential journey of healing. Snyder’s new work is risky in its edginess with the use of such dark thematic material. Again, nothing is overplayed. If poets, traditionally, have one, or perhaps even two, defining works, Grief and Renewal certainly ranks as a seminal work for Snyder. Her first work, I Am South, has an earthy quality and a professional feel to it. I Am South a good and competent work. However, Grief and Renewal packs a hard punch and flirts with greatness. After reading Grief and Renewal, well, count me a fan.

Catafalco_Cove final

A Virtual Interview with Donna Snyder

An interview by Cindy Huyser
A Virtual Interview with Donna Snyder.

Video recording of “More Beautiful with Sangria”

Mark Walsh recorded me in his studio in downtown Los Angeles, California on November 23, 2014. I am reading from Poemas ante el Catafalco:  Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press).

http://www.laartstream.com/words/more-beautiful-with-sangria/

cropped-catafalco_cove-final.jpg

Video recording of me reading “I Am the Sound of the Sea”

Mark Walsh recorded me in his studio in downtown Los Angeles, California on November 23, 2014. I am reading from Poemas ante el Catafalco:  Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press).

http://www.laartstream.com/words/i-am-the-sound-of-the-sea/

Photo by Victor Hernández taken at the Black Orchid Lounge in El Paso,  Texas September 22, 2014.

Photo by Victor Hernández taken at the Black Orchid Lounge in El Paso, Texas September 22, 2014.

(Book review) Poemas Ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal by Donna J. Snyder, reviewed by Mary Saracino

“. . . she widens the circle of grief to encompass the universal, collective experiences of loss and outrage all share as citizens of planet Earth.”

Mary Saracino’s review of my Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal in Return to Mago.

(Book review) Poemas Ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal by Donna J. Snyder, reviewed by Mary Saracino.

Catafalco_Cove_final

Like an angel falling, my newest publication included in VEXT Magazine

Like an angel falling in VEXT 5.0

vext

1.
My hand hesitates not because my mind is blank,
but rather that it flees each thought from fear,
the fear of consequences, of being too trite
or too self revelatory.
A man asked his motherly wife
why his friend had jumped from the roof like an angel falling.
The bearded lady sighed at just another suicide,
just another person with too many options.
The opposite of commitment is paralysis not freedom.
The issue before us here is the meaning of self-destruction,
yet we only seem to care when the effect
is an unambiguous line between here and not here.
The issue before us is the purpose of choice.
If you’re not part of the solution
you will never be able to realize the state of the problem.
The big questions remain unanswered,
like the theory of everything which still explains nothing.
If matter is only denser energy, what is the truth behind E=Mc2?
We must concentrate energy to make something matter.
Or just accept that matter really doesn’t matter anyhow.
Dark energy is neither the details nor the devil.
All life emerges from a single dark hole.
And like the man who flew from the roof,
we all end up the same somewhere deep in the dark.
2.
The absence of light.
The absence of breath.
The absence of life.
Praise God almighty,
free at last.

*Published in Poemas ante el Catafalco:  Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press)