Lively poems in new collection

Lisa Bellamy’s collection of poems, “The Northway,” is a boisterous, rollicking, often bawdy frolic as she encounters bears, groundhogs, pigeons, and her own self and soul in the world. Desire, memory, fear, addiction and enlightenment are among the big subjects explored in these lively poems. If you think you don’t like poetry, this book might change your mind.

Her bio states she divides her time between Brooklyn and Upper Jay, so it is not surprising that the Adirondack Northway (part of Interstate 87) plays a big role in her life and poems, from what she sees in her travels to how it represents “the journey.” In the eponymous poem, she hears a “subliminal vibrating GPS / of the strawberry moon,” sees “clouds of white crickets, / thistles whispering secret wishes” and soars “through midnight shadows, purple breezes, languid / rafts of loons.”

Imagination is the great gift of these poems. In the opening poem, she imagines herself a wayward pansy seed in the meadow’s mud, pressed deep by a passing wolverine. “Why I Will Not Sell the Undeveloped Parcel,” “Woodchuck-a-Phobia” and “Note to the Caretaker” all address real and imagined negotiations with the wild things with which she, inadvertently, shares her property: turkeys holding meetings in the underbrush, woodchucks tunneling to her house’s foundation’s undoing, the incessantly digging moles. From “Note to the Caretaker”: “… please negotiate a final settlement with the mole: we concede all territory from the driveway to the garage, and trust this meets with his satisfaction … I know he cannot cease his digging, for his claws are godly spades …”

Spirituality threads through the collection. In “My Sweet Little Pigeon,” the narrator’s Buddhist blessings for peace and happiness range widely: “May the bacteria in my strawberry yogurt / be happy, cruising down my river … May the gnats biting me take rebirth as neonatal nurses.” In “Meadow Gospel,” she reminds, “You, too, could sing from the shadows — / You’ve forgotten you’re not the only soul / to lug a little sack of trouble.” In “My Holy Spirit,” she notes, “At dawn, my holy spirit smokes tiny cigars.”

And a capacious love and lust carries these poems, from her husband, with whom a spat turns to “smooch,” to the tick “jonesing for blood,” to the bear in “Girl Meets Bear” who “came / for garbage, / but stayed for love.” In “Land of the Peepers,” the speaker says,

“Sweetie, after supper,

after dark, after

animal hearts beat hard,

let’s shimmy; …

… take me to the land of the peepers —

high soprano saxophone

sex blasts, blown

from such tiny bellies:

Sweetie, stroll

with me to the swamp–

let’s bellow –“

The last line of “Why I Will Not Sell the Undeveloped Parcel” speaks to the spirit of the whole collection as it states: “I promised the sun a slice of insouciant / soil on which to shine.”


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