Posts Tagged ‘Ann Thornfield-Long’

The Closing of St. Aloysius Hospital

One by one the doctors let their leases
expire at this cathedral of the hurt.
Hallways spider like mazes. Addition
after addition. Sisters of Mercy
begging to the blessed, Please we need more room.
Who’d resist them? Their pure, white uniforms,
their rosary prayers said over victims
of The Great Flu Epidemic. Warm cloths
laid on children’s legs, on soldiers blinded
by numeral’d wars. Sirens were silenced.

 

I stand beside the Patron Saint of Children

 

behind a chained door never locked before.
We’re obsolete, Aloysius and I.
George Thomas, the first baby born here, died
of old age a decade ago. My heels
echo down the polished hall, and I whirl
to groans and cries: chorus of agony,
a choir of praise. Thousands left this launch
headed for worlds far away. I am left
to empty rooms, hear the last rites of ghosts.
My bones now lie in corners, specks of dust.

 

— Ann Thornfield-Long

 

Ann Thornfield-Long, a co-author of Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage (edited by Crawford and Smiley, 2013), has poetry appearing in Artemis Journal, Riddled with Arrows, Silver BladeAbyss & Apex, The Tennessee Magazine, Wordgathering, Liquid Imagination and other publications. She won the Patricia Boatner Fiction Award (Tennessee Mountain Writers, 2017) for her novel excerpt “The Crying Room” and was a finalist for her fiction in the 2017 Chattanooga Writers’ Guild Spring Contest. She was nominated for the Pushcart, Best of the Net and Rhysling awards, and awarded a 2017 Weymouth residency. She edited and published a weekly newspaper for six years. She’s a retired nurse and medical first responder.

 

Editor’s Notes: Though not immediately apparent, the two 10-line verses are structured with decasyllabic lines, while the one-line central verse has 11 syllables, and is pivotal in the poem. An image of Creedmoor State Hospital’s Building 25 (founded in 1912) is overlaid with a rusted chain (Jooin) and a woman ghost (pngimg). The great influenza pandemic in 1918 killed over 50 million: https://www.cdc.gov/features/1918-flu-pandemic/index.html

Perseids


It is late summer. August leaves and grasses are tinged
with the overcooked brown of the season’s heat.

In thick underbrush, copperheads prowl, fattening
themselves on mice and lizards for the coming hibernation.

The glinting in the snakes’ eyes, as they slither
through meadows in the night, through Perseus’ hands,
 
are St. Lawrence’s tears, the pain of the sky breaking
in glimmering shards of light, skidding on a velvet canopy.
 
We lie on warm boulder in the James River, not feeling
the speed of our passage through Swift-Tuttle’s wake,
 
only aware of the texture of stones sparking above
and beneath us, our smooth skins, like the serpents’,
 
taking our fill of each other now, that will sustain us
through the chill of the Geminids—meteors that will reflect
 
their light off snow and our hoary heads when we can no longer
wade in the river to sleep on the warm breast of earth.
 
— Ann Thornfield-Long
 
 
____________________________________________________________________________
Author’s Note: The constellation, Perseus, where the radiant of the Perseids originates, has the mythological figure holding the severed head of Medusa whose hair is made of long writhing snakes.
 
Ann Thornfield-Long, a co-author of Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage (edited by Crawford and Smiley, 2013), has poetry appearing in Artemis Journal, Riddled with Arrows, Silver Blade, Abyss & Apex, The Tennessee Magazine, Wordgathering, Liquid Imagination and other publications. She won the Patricia Boatner Fiction Award (Tennessee Mountain Writers, 2017) for her novel excerpt “The Crying Room” and was a finalist for her fiction in the 2017 Chattanooga Writers’ Guild Spring Contest. She was nominated for the Pushcart and Rhysling awards, and awarded a 2017 Weymouth residency. She edited and published a weekly newspaper for six years. She’s a retired nurse and medical first responder.
 
Editor’s Note: Raining Perseids* is combined with silhouette of a woman watching over water.
 
*Astronomy Picture of the Day, Aug 12, 2007, Credit & Copyright: Fred Bruenjes: “Tonight is a good night to see meteors. Comet dust will rain down on planet Earth, streaking through dark skies in the annual Perseid meteor shower. While enjoying the anticipated space weather, astronomer Fred Bruenjes recorded a series of many 30 second long exposures spanning about six hours on the night of 2004 August 11/12 using a wide angle lens. Combining those frames, which captured meteor flashes, he produced this dramatic view of the Perseids of summer. Although the comet dust particles are traveling parallel to each other, the resulting shower meteors clearly seem to radiate from a single point on the sky in the eponymous constellation Perseus. The radiant effect is due to perspective, as the parallel tracks appear to converge at a distance. Bruenjes notes that there are 51 Perseid meteors in the composite image, including one seen nearly head-on. This year, the Perseids Meteor Shower is expected to peak in the moonless early morning hours of August 12.

Howl

After viewing “The Scream” by Edvard Munch

 


Dying comes fast or slow—an ice pick
in the back or a chronic headache. Quick
or dawdling, still a thief in soft-souled shoes.

Lips part, torque into a scream
but where is the sound? We are deaf

to death, gulping like a fish swallowing
Jonah whole, eaten alive by fear.
I decode the language of silence,

conjugating time to the pluperfect past.
We give up this existence with keening

like a wolf moved by the moon
to bay a love song in the key of C minor,
every note a eulogy to yesterday.

— Ann Thornfield-Long

Ann Thornfield-Long, a co-author of Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage (edited by Crawford and Smiley, 2013), has poetry appearing/forthcoming in Artemis Journal, Riddled with Arrows, Silver BladeAbyss & Apex, The Tennessee Magazine, Wordgathering, Liquid Imagination and other publications. She won the Patricia Boatner Fiction Award (Tennessee Mountain Writers, 2017) for her novel excerpt “The Crying Room” and was a finalist for her fiction in the 2017 Chattanooga Writers’ Guild Spring Contest. She was nominated for the Pushcart and Rhysling awards, and awarded a 2017 Weymouth residency. She edited and published a weekly newspaper for six years. She’s a retired nurse and medical first responder.

Editor’s Notes: The painting by Munch depicts visual horror, which goes well with “Howl.” even the distorted scream can be imagined as a howl.

Love in the Time of Apocalypse


We could see the end coming from where we stood
when they first pointed it out, a tiny glowing particle10 Long_Apocalypse
in the night sky, its tail a loose dangling of mangled light.
We watched experts on the TV speculate
on how to change its trajectory or blast it with strong
electromagnetic pulses. We wanted desperately to know
when and how and what it would feel like
when  the end came.

Soon, scientists walked out of interviews, one by one.
Then the newscasters left to go home, their cameras
filming empty chairs. Finally, it came down to just you
and me, our lives so split, we merely nodded in passing
but in the ambiance of impending death’s pink glow,
we remembered the taste of rapture, traded our weapons
of mass destruction for the lure of flesh, the need
for touch.

We could leave no mark here except on each other.
We could save nothing to outlast cosmic dust.
Wormwood bowed at last to the first order
to be fruitful, the primeval need to multiply, usurped.
We sent our ecstasy into the universe unhinging
our catastrophe. And now, we are gone
while the speck grows to a red shimmering flower
opening its petals.

— Ann Thornfield-Long

 

Ann Thornfield-Long lives in East Tennessee. Her work appears in venues such as The Tennessee Magazine, Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage (Crawford and Smiley 2013) and The Tennessee Sampler (Peter Jenkins and Friends 1985). She’s an established journalist, editor and publisher for regional newspapers. She has also worked as a nurse and first responder and dispatcher for The Norris Volunteer Fire Department. She has taught creative writing classes, and is the sister of Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, Dan Luzadder, with whom she maintains great sibling rivalry.

 

Editor’s Notes:  It’s not that often that my own work inspires another’s. But here is the case where it did. Ann wrote this poem after reading my poetry collection, Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing, July 2015). The image is from Hubble: “In a dress rehearsal for the rendezvous between NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft and comet 9P/Tempel 1, the Hubble Space Telescope captured dramatic images of a new jet of dust streaming from the icy comet.

The images are a reminder that Tempel 1’s icy nucleus, roughly the size of central Paris, is dynamic and volatile. Astronomers hope the eruption of dust seen in these observations is a preview of the fireworks that may come 4 July, when a probe from the Deep Impact spacecraft will slam into the comet, possibly blasting off material and giving rise to a similar dust plume.” (Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Feldman (Johns Hopkins University), and H. Weaver (Applied Physics Lab))

Artistically, this Hubble image has a foreshadowing effect, with the inset image being the consequence (Deep Impact hit the big screen in 1998, giving seekers of disaster cinema what New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin called a ‘costly comet thriller.’ (Paramount))