Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda

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In the Poet's Spotlight for May 2008:  Jon Pineda

Jon Pineda is the author of The Translator's Diary (New Issues, 2008), winner of the 2007 Green Rose Prize, and Birthmark (Southern Illinois University Press, 2004), winner of the 2003 Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry Open Competition.  His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Poetry Northwest, The Literary Review, Sou'wester, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere.  The recipient of a Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, he is a graduate of James Madison University and the MFA program in Creative Writing at Virginia Commonwealth University.  He currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte and lives in Norfolk with his family.

Index of Pineda's Poems: Scroll down or click on Poem Title

Poems of Jon Pineda (below)  © copyright Jon Pineda, All rights reserved.

Black Sea Bass



It lay in a cooler filled with ice

the night we were out of power

from the storm.  Its skin was gray

when I reached inside, not the way

I first pulled it from the ocean.

Sharp yellow tips of fins stretched

as it raised to where my brother & I

leaned over the side of a head boat.


We were talking about the future. 

Our other brother was suffering

a hangover somewhere in Blacksburg

after a week of engineering classes. 

But we werenít him, & we didnít know

what it was he really wanted, though

for whatever reason, I wish he could

have been with us as fish appeared

out of nowhere.  The storm came through

the night & ran a finger along the cityís

power lines, as if playing guitar.  Primaries 

snapped loose & danced on sidewalks

while the music of fire pounded onto roofs.


That morning I went into the backyard, spread

a paper covering stories of the storm,

smeared scales with a blade and gut the fish,

peeling its hard stomach out.  There, 

as I slit it open, I found three baby crabs

it must have swallowed whole, still filled

with blue & green bending on their claws.

It reminded me of a time my brothers & I had spent

on Ocracoke, when we waded in parts of the salt marsh

where young blue claws darted out from clouds in the water,

their bodies disappearing into the clear, inevitable distance.

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My Sister, Who Died Young, Takes Up The Task



A basket of apples brown in our kitchen,

their warm scent is the scent of ripening,


and my sister, entering the room quietly,

takes a seat at the table, takes up the task


of peeling slowly away the blemished skins,

even half-rotten ones are salvaged carefully.


She makes sure to carve out the mealy flesh.

For this, I am grateful.  I explain, this elegy


would love to save everything.  She smiles at me, 

and before long, the empty bowl she uses fills,


domed with thin slices she brushes into

the mouth of a steaming pot on the stove.


What can I do? I ask finally.  Nothing,

she says, let me finish this one thing alone.

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Because we come from the dream,

I am singing our daughter to sleep.


Shades drawn in our room keep

away what they can, though


there is still the whirring sound

of a plane outside, circling above


before landing at the base nearby. 

Newborn, our daughterís heft is barely


there in the cradle of my arms.

I look down and find her fingers


reaching for my voice. 

It leaves us both.

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We brought our children

to the cows at the dairy farm.

In one barn, calves chewed

on strings still holding

together the gate, and beyond,

in the dark pool of a field,

their mothers heavy with milk

raised themselves out of the mud

and roamed the blond grass

in newly-caked boots, their

mouths pruned from saltlick.

Before leaving, we found

a pen filled with ones nearly

grown, their young square ears

pinned with yellow tags, markered

on each were their names, Heaven

and Velvet, which I read to our son

as he sifted through straws of hay

matted in the dirt, found one

the color of bone and lifted it

nervously to Heavenís

pale tongue.  



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