Joan Mazza

Shakespeare's Sonnets with Coffee

John Gielgud recites sonnets as the night
gives way to day. I'm listening with hands
around a coffee mug to get it right—
to hear the rhythmic music of iambs
by the master. Familiar phrases
find their way to settle in my long bones,
deposit satisfactions that amaze
me when I decide to enter the zone
of memorizing poems. Bare ruined choirs
come back to haunt, earworms played on a loop.
They linger like the ash and heat of fires
that speak to my oldest self. Can I make soup
of couplets? I drop them in and listen—
stirred by the bard, best word magician.

Sestina for Advice Givers

Again a friend has a lot to say about my poems,
observes my subjects are what I've written
about before. Is that criticism? For the umpteenth
time, I explain I write what's in foreground,
have made friends with my mind, trust that good
will come of it. Of those who instruct me like I'm a child,

Julia Cameron says they're tantruming children,
blocked creatives, uncomfortable with my poems
and their content. One says the work isn't good
even if it's published. But these people are not writing
at all. Every day, I rise to write, hit the ground
running with a new poem, even if it's only a teeny

one, or something sonnet-like, fourteen or sixteen
lines ending in a rhymed couplet. Writing isn't child's
play. I work, don't hold the expectation for a ground-
swell of admiration and praise for my daily poems.
It is my routine to open up. I vow only to write
something. It's a draft. I don't insist it's any good.

Some tell me my focus on the past can't be good
for me. How would they know? As if my effort is teen
angst, a stage I must pass through. This daily rite
is my spiritual practice. Maybe I'll stop when the child
inside me doesn't feel abandoned, beaten. Poetry
is always a comfort when I feel old, ground

down. Don't advise me. This feels like Ground-
Hog Day. How many times have I made a good
effort to be polite to those who comment on my poems?
Might you consider that you're being a teensy
bit intrusive when you direct me to leave my child-
hood behind or write a memoir? You say I should write

prose. You must think I don't know what's right
for me. You do. Here's where I stand: on the ground
of language. My poems aren't meant for children
or to cheer you. I never said they'd be fine or good,
only written. I don't weave velvet or a perfect sateen
of word fabric. Prepare for demons, danger in my poetry.

I'm not a teenager, not your child. Why would
you tell me what poems to write as if you know
what's good for me? I know what grounds me.


Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self, her poetry has appeared in Rattle, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, and The Nation. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art. Her website is www.JoanMazza.com.


Sylvia Ashby
Jane Blanchard
Barbara Crooker
Lisa DeSiro
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Andrea Hackbarth
Kathryn Jacobs
Mina Le
Charlotte Mandel
Libby Maxey
Joan Mazza
Susan McLean
Sally Nacker
Janice D. Soderling
Myrna Stone
Wendy Videlock
Doris Watts
Marly Youmans


The most recent addition to The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline is Modern Age Japanese Women Poets: Yosano Akiko, Hayashi Fumiko, Kiyoko Nagase, Chika Sagawa by Patricia Callan.

Wendy Videlock was the recipient of the 2016 Mezzo Cammin Scholarship to the Poetry by the Sea conference.

Mary Temple has lived and worked in Brooklyn, New York for the past 20 years. She moved to the borough after completing her MFA in painting and drawing at Arizona State University. She then went on to study at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1999.

Mary Temple has exhibited her work throughout the US and abroad. The artist has completed commissioned projects at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SF, CA; SculptureCenter, LIC, Queens, NY; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; Rice Gallery, Houston, TX; Western Bridge, Seattle, WA; The Drawing Center, NY; UCSF Mission Bay Medical Center; The Bunkamura Museum, Tokyo, Japan; NYU Abu Dhabi, among many other venues. Her work has been reviewed in publications including, The New York Times, Artforum, ArtNews and Art in America. This year the artist will complete major public projects for the City of New York's Percent for Arts program, at the historic landmark site, McCarren Pool in Williamsburg, Brooklyn as well as at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital's new wing, The Building for a Better Future.

You can view more work from this series and others at Temple's website: marytemple.com.

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