From the Ether

editorís note


Let the Sunshine in


Summer is the time of year when the line between indoors and outdoors naturally blurs. Here in Brooklyn, where I live, the heat and sun bring the inhabitants out in full force to the streets, parks, public pools, backyards, and outdoor cafes. Life is just brighter, noisier (dare I say muggier and smellier) in a way that, even if not always pleasant, canít help but remind you of the connection between all beings and things around usóhuman, leaf, or beast; animate or inanimate (not going to pretend I donít have a special place in my heart for the fridge or fan these days).

I like to think that poetry does this as well, that one of its most important roles is to engage the reader with both a physical and emotional world outside the self. And, as this countryís political soap opera shows no sign of hiatus, we could all stand the occasional shove out of our shaded, air-conditioned skulls and into the sounds and rhythms, images and insights of someone elseís mind. Call it a little kick in the pants of empathy.

Though not always lighthearted, and certainly not frivolous, the poems in this issue offer intimate relief from colder, damper times. They are filled with verdant flora and stark light. From sonnets for a loved one distracted by band boys, bumper cars and Acapulco cliff divers to an account of a violently invasive desert world, from conflicted daughterly love over a motherís bad choices or a fatherís bad habits to an unapologetic lack of conflict over the need for physical pleasure, their themes contain, in the best Whitman-ian sense, that song of the self that draws us in rather than separates us. Pineapples and packages and sci-fi movies and death dreams and all sorts of other metaphors posing as everyday things lurk within them. The glamorous city of Rome even shows up more than once (unintentionally, we swear) as a reminder of that 1960ís starlet the civilized Mediterranean summer.

To complement them, we have the striking, expressionist landscapes of artist Allen Forrest. With their deep blues and greens, their blinding skies and thick foliage, their strong horizons and walls of trees, they are a summer camp for the eyes. 

So I hope youíll enjoy the poems and paintings we have for you. And while itís warmer and clearer, how about an easy mental prompt (no writing required): Go outside and look up at the night sky for a moment. Let yourself get lost in a place that isnít the one you inhabit. Like poetry, this can be a simple, brief vacation from the self and its preoccupationsóa reminder of how much else there is out there.

Have a wonderful summer.

from the Ether,

Mary Donnelly

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