Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Where The Meadowlark Sings by Ellaraine Lockie

Where The Meadowlark Sings
Encircle Publications
Farmington, MA
© Copyright 2015, Ellaraine Lockie
ISBN-13: 978-1-893035-23-2
Softbound, $12.95, 26 pages

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

Last I reviewed Ms. Lockie she was sitting mostly in a Starbucks observing people and writing about them.  Many of those poems had a subtle humor and were quite enjoyable. This time we find her in home backyard of Montana Big Sky country.  These poems are more serious, more enjoyable and just as worthy of being read.

These poems can be hard, gritty, excruciatingly honest and that is what makes them so compelling.  For those of us who live in the east, or have never been to Montana where Custer made his last stand  and Glacier National Park is a top tourist attraction, there is much to learn and Ms. Lockie provides a somewhat different, if not personal, education.

In “Godot Goes to Montana” readers learn the basics of farm life:

My farmer father waited to
if crops would hail out or dry up
If coyotes would tunnel the chicken coops
If the price of grain could keep
me out of used clothes
If the bank would waive foreclosure
for another year

After hay bailing and breech delivering
from sunrise to body’s fall
He slept in front of the evening news
Too worn out to watch the world squirm
Too weary to hear warning from ghost brothers
who were slain by bee, bacon and stress
Too spent to move into the next day

when couldn’t afford to forget
how Brew Wilcox lost his left arm to an auger
How the mayor’s son suffocated in a silo
Too responsible to remember the bleak option
my grandfather chose for the rope
hanging over the barn rafters

never too lonely every farmer
had a neighbor to bullshit with
To share an early A.M. pot of Folger’s
To eat fresh sourdough doughnuts
To chew the fat of their existence

Whether Lockie is telling you “How To Know A Prairie Poem”  or about “Witches of the West” or what it is like “On the road After a Record Rain” you will gain insight not only into her psyche, but learn about the west without didactic preaching. For example take the following poem:


The one-room schoolhouse
is weathered by a hundred years
on the prairie
Emptied of my mother, aunts, uncles
and the bell in the tower that tolled
their welcome to the middle of nowhere

I bring my daughter here
for an optical history lesson
Me to summon ancestor stories
that have been silenced by the din
of decades in cities

She forges in front of me
ever anxious to embrace anything abandoned
And I’m struck dumb by the assault
of some instinct as old and tongue-tied
as those stories

At the doorframe she hears the hiss
before the rattle that roots her
to the cactus-covered earth
As the snake slithers away
And elementary education continues
two generations after it began
in the one-room schoolhouse

It is easy to see why Where The Meadowlark Sings was the winner of the 2014 Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest.  It is an accessible and enjoyable read.
Zvi A. Sesling
Reviewer for Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene
Author, King of the Jungle (Ibbetson St.) and  Across Stones of Bad Dreams (Cervena Barva)
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Publisher, Muddy River Books
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthologies #7 & #8

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