Why does Homer's Muse disdain me? Why won't nymphs touch my flute? When heroes sail the wine-dark sea why stay at my desk and salute? When will I know love from lust? Why is it both cause a stomachache? Why are lies all that I trust? Why is drool all that I make? My muse is a mouse in a cage who refuses to obey my command, and when I touch the cold chaste page it slaps the dry pen from my hand. Wicked muse, eat your stale cheese, blow your foul breath on another fake - allow my feeble tongue to unfreeze because I've forms to fill, calls to make, and I'm near the end of my coffee break. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
For eons or mere minutes on the clock among marble mansions on a cliffside walk or sewage-filled streets in a shantytown, if you shimmer in silk or wear a paper crown - 110 degrees or snow sideways blowing - should you be lost or know where you're going, whether friends are plenty or few, I will walk with you.
Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
So what’s Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves about? Love. Ahh, that sounds really warm and cozy. It is – until it isn’t. This novel is no Hallmark card or cheesy pop song. Its major theme is love in its many forms (splendored or not): young love, mature love, obsessive love, self-love (our favorite), destructive love (which may not be love at all), forbidden love (sweet!), and familial love (whatever).
The novel is primarily set in North Dakota’s Badlands (major metaphor alert) on and near an Ojibwe reservation. However, it opens with the murder of a White family on a farm. The sole survivor is a baby in a crib (the murderer finds her when she starts crying). So now he has a decision to make.
The story then jumps ahead decades to the 1960s. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that shortly after the murders 4 Native Americans came across the scene. When several White men learn about the Native Americans’ presence at the farmhouse, they deputize themselves and (not being too concerned about guilt or innocence) lynch the 4 Native Americans. The murders and the subsequent lynchings permeate the community as if an icy phantom walks through it, even as the descendants from all sides interact and mix. There is no way to “unravel” the rope. “Nothing that happens, nothing, is not connected here by blood.”
The novel is narrated by 4 characters and follows several inter-related families for about 40 years. The proximity of the White and Native communities may breed trouble, but it also creates desire. “We can’t seem to keep our hands off one another, it is true, and every attempt to foil our lusts though laws and religious dictums seems bound instead to excite transgression.” This is not new. But Ms. Erdrich is a skilled writer, and her wonderfully-drawn characters keep the story interesting and the reader engaged. Ultimately, we learn what happened to the baby and who murdered the family. There is a resolution of sorts. But, still, questions linger.
While the murders and lynchings are ever present, this story is about finding, maintaining, and losing love – even the most fulfilled are not exempt. “I have loved intensely. I have lived an ordinary and a satisfying life, and I have been privileged to be of service to people. Most people. There is no one I mourn to the point of madness and nothing I would really do over again.” That sounds like a full life, but Ms. Erdrich is too honest to leave it at that. Fulfilled or not, questions still linger.
Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor.
Unlike some gentlemen, I was never tempted by twins. They never captivated me - until that pink-driven spring when I encountered your proud peaks in a downy form-fitting sweater. Then I couldn't get twins off my mind. I will also confess surprise that you pounced upon my timid feeler. I expected you three to ignore me. Even more - I expected you to run after that first fumbling night of errant probes and prods, but you stayed. Eventually, winter came, but you did not come with it. That left me cold and relieved. There was a time during that fevered summer when I was concerned I should love you less. But that would have been impossible. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Hallmark has nice sentiments, but they meander the gentle slopes of meadows laced with buttercups pollinated by crisp dollar bills. And we are too smart for the platitudes of enterprises that print treacle for profit. At least that's what William and Mary say. Though they annually ask us for money, so they would say that anyway. There is also no denying the obvious: we have been lucky - so far. Though we have stumbled on rocky trails, slipped on slick foothills and blundered over blue ridges, we've never had to scale the Himalayas. So while there have been obstacles, we have overcome them hand in hand. But perhaps that is simply the Hallmark card in me speaking - the one that blithely assumes our journey has been one and the same. Maybe your path has been different. Maybe you climb Himalayan peaks everyday. Maybe I am being foolish and insecure. But that exhausted look on your face suggests you ran uphill for miles today while I walked meters on smooth linoleum. Then there are these scattered scraps of paper - fuzzy phrases that spawn insipid poems parading my mostly muddled thoughts on everything. You can find them everywhere. And then there's you. Furtively writing in a diary I can never find. And I have looked everywhere. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief First published in Blue Lake Review
I like how you describe that poem more than the poem itself. You see things I don't, and the things you see have deep meanings - deeper perhaps than the poet intended. You see birds symbolizing change. The young leave the old and neither knows the impact of the parting. Shockingly this lack of comprehension is of no consequence because there is love in the leaving. Even after reading the poem several times, I see crows. I am not sure you are right, but I know you are not wrong. I would like to see that poem as you see it. But whenever I see you and me in a mirror, I am reminded: you have poor eyesight and a temperament that is too tender. They are your most egregious shortcomings, and I have benefitted from both. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief First published in The Oddville Press
You are all the poems I cannot write. You are all the words I dare not speak - not because they would deceive but because they would disappoint. So these words (knowing my perverse reliance on flippancy and sarcasm as shield and sword to repel every honest sentiment) prefer to be stillborn. It is ironic really because with everything else my words run rampant. There is no end to all the thoughtless things I say. But with you - words disdain my tongue and silence shields me from repelling you. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief First Published in Ariel Chart
When all the months were hot July and I was barely in my teens, I met a sullen girl with a fiery eye that she always directed towards me. Such disdain drove me to distraction; her antipathy struck me as wise. She taught joy brings no satisfaction, and scorn is Love's truest disguise. Miss Disdain grew up and multiplied, and I delighted in each fury's spite. Being aware of all the flaws that I hide, their indifference could only be right. She was the alpha of all cruel passions whose touch made lesser men wince, and in various forms and fashions I have chased Miss Disdain ever since. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
I've heard what you say in the name of love and your favorite word is no. I've seen what you do in the name of love because the purple bruises still show. You say you're a man of love but that sounds dangerous to me, so bring me no more love and show me simple courtesy. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief First published in Ariel Chart
Love takes nothing I don't freely give - so let the poets sleep guilt free. Though they tell shameless lies and unwelcome truths, they can't grow roses on the moon. A poem won't cure cancer or stop a middle-aged man from being a bore. Poetry can't make me see what I would rather ignore. And I choose to ignore a lot: how that look on your face is smug; or how you're the salt of the Earth and I'm the slug. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief First published in Scarlet Leaf Review