Featured Artist Deborah Norton, a pairing with Beth Gordon’s Poem “During the Battle of Gettysburg the Union Band Played Polkas”

/, FEATURED ARTISTS, FEATURED FINE ARTISTS, LITERARY ARTS, Lyric, Mixed Media, Narrative, Painting, Poetry, STUDIO ARTS/Featured Artist Deborah Norton, a pairing with Beth Gordon’s Poem “During the Battle of Gettysburg the Union Band Played Polkas”

Beth Gordon

During the Battle of Gettysburg
the Union Band Played Polkas

“The Warrior” by Deborah Norton

I cradle my grandson like a hymnal,
           like a nest-less whippoorwill,
a bursting of un-invented words,
           I will never tell him of kitchen
walls stained with blood, the books
           used for pillows, saturated with mucus,
gray brain matter, while the squeeze
           box groaned and sputtered. I cannot
build a blanket, never mastered the art
           of knit and pearl, of new white
eggs boiling in water until ready
           to be cracked and skinned, but I know
that a violin is better than a coffin.
           I sing soft syllables into his ear,
I sing his name until he believes
           that he is the only song I know,
that winter will never arrive,
           that nothing should burn but his heart,
that I want him to be the choir,
           the wool, the feathers, not the bullet,
not the ice-skinned man holding
           a knife at our throats. I want him
to march to cicada and cricket,
           windchime, the sound of dandelions
clawing through dirt, the crackle
           of flame, coyotes barking at the moon,
not a drum or war cry to pull him
           from sleep and lure him to a living
nightmare without quilts or penny
           whistles.  Better to go down with
the ship, to open himself up like
           page 523, Nearer My God to Thee, to be
the hand without murder, his mouth
           unable to translate instructions for
constructing a homemade hydrogen
           bomb.  Better to share bread and carry
the single surviving banjo over
           earthquake-shifted ground, better to fill
the lifeboat with grandmothers
           like a second line parade, brassy and loud.


About the writer:
Beth Gordon received her MFA from American University a long time ago and was not heard from again until 2017 when her poems began to appear in numerous journals including Into the Void, Outlook Springs, Drunk Monkeys, Verity La and After Happy Hour Review. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She is also Poetry Editor of Gone Lawn.

Image: “The Warrior” from The Individual series by Deborah Norton. Oil and mixed media on Masonite. 24 x 24 inches. Norton is best known for her layered mixed media oil paintings. Inspired by expressionism including the “combines” of Rauschenberg and the raw figurative paintings of Schiele, Norton experiments with translucent paint layers, color and mixed media to expose life and its’ always changing expression. Deborah Norton is O:JA&L’s “Featured Artist” for March 2019.