Perie Longo, a California poet, has been leading poetry
workshops for more than 20 years with the Santa Barbara
Writers Conference and California-Poets-in-the-Schools.
Her poems are published in various poetry journals and
anthologies. Some of these include: The Journal of Poetry
Therapy, The Paterson Literary ReviewL, and Prairie
Schooner. She is a certified Poetry Therapist as well as a
marriage and family therapist.
Longo's poems are more personal than those of Jacob and
Flanigan. She tells the story of her personal tragedyóthe
illness and eventual death of her husband and how she persevered. Like Jacob and
Flanigan, the theme of love runs throughout the book as, for instance, in Along the
above it all where a liquid tongue
lunges over the mountain, cracks
over jagged granite meant to snap you awake.
Even with sore muscles we managed
to climb to another height
and yes, take my word for it,
with something we learned
along the way, love. ( p.16)
Although there are no illustrations, the poet's descriptions are so vivid that we are able
to rely on our imaginations. For example in Cat Scan:
In a dream I rescued the cat
on the way out of a war torn town,
where we really do not live. …
…But today the doctor points out
on your cat scan the bulge of white lymph nodes
like miniature mushrooms. H-bombs exploding
against a dark background that leaves us stunned. (p.15)
Look at the metaphors — the comparison of lymph nodes to miniature mushrooms.
These types of metaphors are also seen in other poems. My artistic instinct can visualize
my paintbrush illustrating this powerful scene. Also look at the play on words: cat
the animal and cat scan the X-ray.
The narrative form of several poems adds a novelist's touch. For instance in The
Widow Attempts a Singlesí Group Potluck:
Gender balanced. That was the big thing.
I had to bring a man, but wasnít the point
there wasnít one? …
I looked up, imagining him floating like a blimp
without wires. Would have to figure how
to get him down. “Never mind,” my friend said… (p. 73)
Note that even the title reads like a book, yet it is a brilliant poem with its satirical
tongue- in-cheek descriptions: “ women with casseroles to titillate the men_” and
“Stupid questions like ‘ Why didn't the man who commissioned the Mona Lisa like the
final product? ’ ” (P.73). The six other “widow” poems are more nostalgic than satirical
(pp. 77, 79, 82, 83, 84, 88).
I like the way Longo plays with words. For example in Squoze:
Down Highway 15 past Vegas
past midnight inside the steam
of air you say you are “squoze” …
I think squozen a good word,
what happens to your life at the end
when youíre trying to squeeze in
as much as you can, pushing to the rim…
squoze from comfort and our bed…
… I lean back for a snooze… (p. 18-19)
She writes about her coping strategies in several poems, using dreams and her imagination.
For example, in the poem After Visiting Chagall: San Francisco:
roosters posed in off-kilter windows
Iím like that, detached. To stay grounded
you have to unfasten yourself
from the once true, look around and see what else:
odd emus poke heads through thistledown fog…
imagine Chagallís wings on our backs,
and suddenly weíre floating, the whole family…
we pass each other and wink.
You should hear that rooster crow. (p. 81)
We see that she does not sit at home and mope. On the contrary, she visits museums,
goes to widows' events, but always thinks of her late husband. Another way that she
comes through her grief is experienced in The Darís Daughter:
And when it became the darkest, I lit
the kerosene lamp on the mantle
with a sense of purpose and paraded through the house
shouting “All is well, all is well.” (p. 22-23)
We admire her strength in showing us the spectrum of emotions from sadness, grief,
hope, and even humour. We cannot help laughing and crying with her as we read her
The following are two examples of Longo's funny lines from What My Husband Taught
Me about Adventure and The Darís Daughter:
Risking your life is a good thing — it halts rumination.
Women ruminate too much and want compliments… (p. 13)
… Iím not sure I can use the word
Ďfuckí in a poem and still be allowed
to be a member of the Poetry Society of America
even though it sounds accurate. … (p. 22)
As Flanigan does, she shows her appreciation of nature in With Nothing behind but
We passed skyís fortress of walls, knelt
to the surprise of columbine, and listened
to wind between thin green needles. … (p. 92)
Longo's poems remind me of Youíll Never Walk Alone, a beautiful song of hope, faith,
optimism, and the beauty of nature from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical,
When you walk through a storm, Hold your head up high
And donít be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm, Thereís a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark.
Walk on, through the wind. Walk on, through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And youíll never walk alone. Youíll never walk alone.
The themes of nature, grief, love, passion, hope, humour, and empathy run through
each of the three books of poetry. Each poet expresses these themes in a different
way: Bob Jacob in his personal involvement with hospice patients; Patrick Flanigan in
comparing grief to the flora and fauna in nature; and Perie Longo through her personal
As with Jacob's and Flanigan's books, Longo's book belongs on the shelves of
libraries, universities, schools, hospitals and hospice centers.
Buy this book from www.artamo.com
Perie Longo: Poet, Poetry Therapist, Marriage & Family Therapist