Judith Barrington

Through the Looking Glass

Red blooms summon the hummingbird
who zooms in, whirring his wings
and probes deep into the sugary center of things.

Sometimes there are three or four launching
attacks on each other, aggressive, but sweet
of course, their tiny bodies so neat,

glowing green and red as they perform
aerial stunts or hover motionless over there.
Who else can stay quite still in the air?

But then, oh dear, one wheels off left so fast
that I, the human watching, believe it suddenly carefree
until it slams into the window it cannot see--

glass reflecting willows, curly leaves,
even the flowers it loves to suck.
Grounded, it lies still, waiting for a rush of luck.

Bref Double en Avion

In dreams I fly between great chunks of brick--
office buildings with thousands of windows that glint
as my jumbo jet looks for a way to go,
wingtips just missing drainpipe and window washer.

Sometimes, though, it's a narrow forest road.
On each side hemlock and spruce stands tall and thick;
the plane drops low, then revs and lifts its nose,
rattling between the trees like a young kingfisher.

No dream, I'm wide awake at San Diego--
coming in to land en route to Baja.
I've eaten the pretzels, am sucking on a mint
when I glance out the window. Heart drops. Vertigo.

Skyscrapers far too close--a magic trick?
I see people working. I dreamed them two days ago.


1 Reasons to follow the heart

are many and various: my heart's fist
is fragile and demanding, full of longing
to find the center, like any artist.

The throbbing organ forgets about needing
the good and daily, and jumping up and down
flaps its chambers to a haunting song--

the loveliest song, it swears, it has ever known.
Its pure joy is the most seductive of all
as, dressed in luminous clothes, it heads to town.

My heart wakes up my mind, whose spacious hall
is empty except for just one glittering word--
the perfect word to describe that glorious fall:

love plunging through space. Verses overheard
play in the drum-organ's ear and its pulse of a smile
grows wide dancing to the absurd.

2 Reasons not to follow the heart

are many and various: my heart is fragile
and demanding, full of longing still
and quick to bruise or find everything futile

It leaves the good and daily out on the sill
and cracks the brittle window of what is dear,
blinding itself through stubborn force of will

to what might stay and what might disappear.
This heart's a whiner, moaner, carry-on-er,
wandering through storms like a weary Lear;

it steals peace of mind and thumbs its nose at honor
and when it's called on its unreliable ways
it wails and falls about like a prima donna.

Seductive it's true, my heart can sometimes amaze
with its acrobatic leaps and its silver tongue,
but beware the stroboscope of its flashy gaze.


Judith Barrington has published three poetry collections, most recently Horses and the Human Soul and two chapbooks: Postcard from the Bottom of the Sea and Lost Lands (winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Award). She was the winner of the 2012 Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry Prize (Cork International Poetry Festival), and her memoir, Lifesaving won the Lambda Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award. She has been on the faculty of the MFA program at the University of Alaska, and teaches classes and workshops in the USA, England and The Almassera, Spain: www.judithbarrington.com


Melissa Balmain
Judith Barrington
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>We are pleased to announce that Anne-Marie Thompson is the recipient of the Mezzo Cammin scholarship at the West Chester University Poetry Conference and Wendy Sloan is the recipient of The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project scholarship.

Judith Schaecter: I found the beauty of stained glass to be the perfect counterpoint to ugly and difficult subjects. Although the figures I work with are supposed to be ordinary people doing ordinary things, I see them as having much in common with the old medieval windows of saints and martyrs. They seem to be caught in a transitional moment when despair becomes hope or darkness becomes inspiration. They seem poised between the threshold of everyday reality and epiphany, caught between tragedy and comedy.

My work is centered on the idea of transforming the wretched into the beautiful--say, unspeakable grief, unbearable sentimentality or nerve wracking ambivalence, and representing it in such a way that it is inviting and safe to contemplate and captivating to look at. I am at one with those who believe art is a way of feeling ones feelings in a deeper, more poignant way.

I would describe my process as derived almost entirely from traditional techniques in use for centuries. The imagery is predominantly engraved into layers of glass; only the black and yellow are painted and fired on in a kiln. The pieces are soldered together in a copperfoil and lead matrix.
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