My Personal Favorite: Joy Gaines-Friedler

Joy Gaines-Friedler
At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite and why?



Not of bones or humiliations we lie with

thankful for the alarm of another day,

but of the squirrel who found her way

into the tube feeder, sought black oilers,

their seedy scent, the way the apple

in its sun-glow, tempted Eve. Pungent

apple-scent like the scent

of Adam himself, his skin, his hair,

maybe now I’ve gone too far, but isn’t

that what the squirrel sought there

in the feeder I filled, I hung?

Her clever mind figured the lid off,

reckoned a way to the manna there,

the way the man whose elbow rested

confident on his knee as he flicked

ashes from his cigarette, whose music

lined his walls alphabetically, whose love

of mysteries pulled me from my marriage

into a conduit of seed, no

consciousness of how deeply the tube

held food or what might be at the end—

no end at all. Dug in, I consumed

my way to the bottom, found myself

trapped. She died there. Suffocated.

When all she wanted was to be fed.


We come to poetry every day, different, altered, new perhaps. Each day I read the same poem differently. This is the magic of art. Like the warm chord we finally hear, the pale blue stroke we hadn’t noticed before. This is why I struggled with this question: which is currently my favorite. I find myself in need of certain poems on certain days. So today, it is this poem, Burial from Capture Theory. “Not of bones” the opening line begins, or of “humiliations” – but of the squirrel who found her way into the bird feeder, who sought what she needed there. And got trapped. It’s a stunning metaphor.

Joy Gaines-Friedler’s works include three books of poetry, Like Vapor, Dutiful Heart and Capture Theory which is a Foreword Review 2018 Book Of The Year Finalist. She is a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee and the winner of the 2016 Margo Lagattuta Poetry Prize. Featured in The Bloomsbury Anthology of Jewish American Poetry and the award winning Poetry in Michigan in Poetry, Joy’s work has received numerous awards from, among others, Ekphrastic Magazine, The Patterson Review, and The Marjorie Wilson Award for Excellence in Poetry. Joy holds an MFA in Creative Writing and teaches for a variety of non-profits in the Detroit area including literary arts programs, social justice programs, and the PCAP – Prison Creative Arts Project through the University of Michigan.

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One last announcement….

Join me at Bo’s Kitchen in NYC on June 18th! Call ahead for reservations. Have a wonderful summer, everyone!


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