BEAR

Karen Chase’s poems are buoyed by lightness and vitality, a joy in physical pleasures, and an inimitable sense of humor.                                                            –Harvard Review

 

Read a poem  featured on the Academy of American Poets’ celebration of National Poetry Month

 

Karen Chase’s second volume of poems, BEAR (CavanKerry Press), affirms the promise of her debut, Kazimierz Square, which former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins heralded as “incandescent.” Again, Chase finds the cryptic beauty in the rawness of everyday life, in our fragile, sometimes menacing juxtaposition to nature, and in the tightrope of human relationships.

As its title suggests, the bear takes a central, recurring role in many of poems in the book, as the poet quite literally communes with this enigmatic woodland adversary of man. On reading BEAR, John Haines commented, “Among other instructive pleasures in this new collection, Karen Chase’s “Bear” poems are an innovation. I recommend them to the reader — with caution, please!” In “Traveling in Bear Country,” humor punctuates the discourse: “Are you listening, Bear?/I’m speaking to you!” And while there is an affinity between woman and beast – “You and I, Bear, we feel/sun warm the air.” – ultimately the poet feels a smallness in the ursine presence. “Bear, I belong back in my yard, worrying/about words and money, acting human.” The pas de deux continues, the poet seemingly at a loss for words, “Just because I can speak, Bear, don’t/expect me to. It’s not always human/to talk, in case you didn’t know” (“The Hint”), until intimidation cedes to an empowerment that signals so much more – “Don’t fool with me. I hear stories/from friends who know your kind.”

The poems, some of which first appeared in such far-flung publications as The Southern Review, Alaska Quarterly, Another Chicago Magazine, and Poetry Ireland, teem with Chase’s characteristic fearlessness and hopefulness, delivered with an unadorned, articulate fusion of language and ideas.

 

Excerpt from NewPages.com –
“Karen Chase’s second collection of poetry is a metaphorical and allegorical device that permits the author to impart tremendously beautiful narratives. …….When the unexpected happens in this collection, you are not exactly caught unawares. You laugh at the truths that come out whether it is through satirical and one-sided conversations with overpowering and ravenous bears or through ironic commentaries on the true nature of humanity and all its imaginative and destructive powers. There is an urgency and seriousness to these poems.”

 

 Midwest Book Review–
“Fans who enjoyed “Kazimierz Square” will be delighted as Karen Chase returns with her second anthology of poetry with “Bear”. She focuses on the inspiration she drew from discovering an illegal bear poaching ring near her home in Massachusetts. The poems mix themes, leading to a varied yet enjoyable poetry experience that her fans will enjoy very much indeed, making “Bear” highly recommended to community library poetry collections. “Then I Talked to a Bear”: Bear, you are all the people/ I have ever lost and all those/ I dread losing, who knows the order.// In this house of lost ones, you are my/ soulmate, a word I never used. This prison/ has stolen my subjunctives, my roar and/ lungs – think if a hunter cut your tongue.”

 

 

JAM

Our love is not the short
courtly kind but
upstream, down,
long inside – enjambed,
enjoined, conjoined, and
jammed, it’s you, enkindler,
enlarger, jampacked man of many
stanzas, my enheartener – love
runs on from line to
you, from line to me and me
to you, from river to sea and sea to
land, hits a careless coast, meanders
way across the globe – land
ahoy! water ahoy! – love
with no end, my waters go
wherever you are, my stream
of consciousness.

 

BEAR SAFETY

                                               From The Bear Safety Pamphlet -
                                              Do not run.
                                              Let the bear know you are not prey.
                                             Act human, wave your arms.
                                            Speak to the bear

Are you scared,
Bear? Does my smell
cause your fur to curdle?
You make my skin crawl.

Do my English words
worry you? Can you feel
my breath Bear? Do you
worry Bear, who’s in charge?
Sometimes you go too far.
I am thirsty

for your burgundy meat.
What do you think?
You’d eat me, Bear, and I,
I would eat you. And you?
What is it you want?
My skin is white and smooth.

I do not belong
in this far north town
where there are tales
of men and bear who marry.
I’d never live near
the allusive luscious
sea with you.

Stand on your
hind legs, Bear, and I
will stand on mine, let’s
face each other down.