Karen Friedland’s debut collection marks the long-awaited arrival of a poised, unique poetic voice. Wholly personal, Friedland waves her humanistic wand and conjures a collection of such cherished poetry, each poem reads like an intimate journal entry. Tender, melancholic gems like “The Wizard,” “Bait Dogs,” and “Babies in Jam Jars,” distill the human experience into moments of wistful reflection. Much like the late Mary Oliver, Friedland is a metaphysical poet who loves Earth’s creatures and lush landscapes. Places That Are Gone showcases poems through the author’s lens of the simplistic, sentient beauty of our natural world and how we live in it. Friedland is one of those rare poets who evoke the nostalgic warmth of the things that were and summon unbinding hope for all the things to come.
– Renuka Raghavan, author of Out of the Blue
Bite into it!
commanded the old man,
offering me a peach
at the Georgia roadside stand,
and when I hesitated –
“Just bite into it!”
And when I did
he smiled and said
“Isn’t she sweet?”
are usually female –
this one was left for dead
on a cold winter night
by Turtle Pond.
She had more than 60 bite wounds,
some hand-sewn with purple thread,
others still fresh, infected.
Sixty flashing sets of teeth
tore at this dog’s flesh,
and yet she wagged her stump-tail
when her rescuers came.
She was harmless, helpless
and will need six months of quarantine
because they don’t know how many dogs bit her.
All I can hold onto
is how grateful I am for her rescuers,
for the all-night animal hospital they raced her to
and even for the t.v. newswoman
who reported this story
that made me cry for days.
Pound the earth
does my neighbor Linda Burke,
in her quest to subdue it –
she hacks back tree limbs,
and plants tomatoes that fail
year after year after year.
And yet in spring,
Here she is, in the rain –
Pounding and pruning and hoping again.
Dust Bowl on TV
Look what you did,
You ripped up my protective coat –
15 inches of Buffalo grass –
and killed all the buffalo, too,
while you were at it.
You left my bare body exposed
to the wind and drought
which blew it away.
You killed the coyote
that kept the jack rabbits in check,
and then you killed them too, with sticks,
they ate the only green things left.
You killed your own cattle
when all you had to feed them was tumbleweed.
And then came the grasshopper plague
which you treated with poison, of course
and then the dead and dying children –
truly, it was biblical.
Proving once again
that every little thing
affects every single thing,
and you can truly count on humans
to destroy that chain,
over and over again.
Karen Friedland, a grant writer by trade, lives in a quiet neighborhood on the edge of Boston with her husband, two cats and two dogs. Her work has been published in Nixes Mate Review, Writing in a Women’s Voice, Sojourner newspaper and others. She is the interviewer for Cervena Barva Press, and is a founding member of the Poetry Sisters collective. She is proud to have recently had a poem selected by the Boston Poet Laureate to be displayed for 12 months at Boston City Hall.
Copyright © 2019 Karen Friedland
Cover photograph from the collection of Lauren Leja
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.
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