“The Whale” (Frontier Poetry)

One of my personal favorite poems, “The Whale,” has been published by Frontier Poetry here. This is what they had to say about it, which just makes me incredibly happy!

Cassandra Farrin’s poem rustles with the sound of waves and devils. “The Whale” is exactly how you make surprising a literary figure so well known as to be automatically cliche in lesser hands. Let the lines fill your mouth with brine and flame, the white space like gaps between the waves, the Whale: freshly ambiguous.

And here is a small excerpt:

Born bright, a lemon jarred     in brine and oil pales;
so it was with me     in the deep,
but this is a darker matter.     Say of me “men dream and drown,”
an unfathomable vastness, adrift.     Who lives who impales the moon?
Continue reading…

Thank you to Frontier Poetry for publishing this poem about one of my favorite literary figures of all time!

“Elijah” & “The Arrival” (Heartwood)

My two poems “Elijah” and “The Arrival” have been published in Issue 4 of Heartwood Literary Magazine, which is run by the MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Elijah

Sere bends the light
where no dew pearled
this morning
and won’t the next—

[Continue reading…]

The Arrival

Whatever it is,
hold it like the pope
is bleeding in Constantinople,
like Pompeii
in the hungry hours.

[Continue reading…]

Both of these poems are part of a larger project of retelling early Christian apocrypha, myths, and so on, which someday I hope will become a full book of poetry. “The Arrival” was drafted in one of the poetry workshops I attended at The Cabin in Idaho, inspired by my visit to Pompeii back in 2008 during my Fulbright year. Thanks, as always, for reading and supporting my work!

“Grass Fire” (Kettle Blue Review)

My poem “Grass Fire” was published today in Kettle Blue Review with amazing poems by Maggie Smith, Francine Witte, and other poets I admire! To say I’m pleased to feature in an issue alongside them is an understatement.

Ovid should have written into his heavens,
how fire gathers wind
fiber, thread, and strand
and snaps it rhythmically in taut cords over chastened fields,
an industrial grade cat-o-nine
hissing through the atmosphere…

[Continue reading]

This poem is based on an actual grass fire on my mom’s farm. The photo on this blog post is also from that fire, which was terrifying. Never underestimate how quickly a fire can move! Thankfully my mom didn’t lose her house, in spite of the damage done to the rest of the land around it.

Notes on a Modern Cinderella (concīs)

My curious little prose poem, “Notes on a Modern Cinderella,” has been published in concīs today! You can read the full poem — and hear me read it aloud! — by clicking here.

This version will not be as ugly as poor Berlioz who slipped on sunflower oil at the turnstile, the one who fell under the train steered by a Komsomol girl. Let’s say worse than the Grimms’ toes but not so horrendous as heads. … continue reading

This was a poem composed in workshop with the lovely Kerri Webster, who challenged us to write a meta-poem about another writing project of ours. Thank you as always for supporting my work and one of my favorite poetry sites!

Screaming Bear (Auk Contraire)

My ekphrastic poem “Screaming Bear” was published this month in Auk Contraire‘s NO/WHERE issue, which you can read online here. You really should take a moment, too, to view the full image of Adonna Khare’s stunning & incredibly moving piece, Screaming Bear, an homage to her father during his illness and suffering from a brain tumor, along with the rest of her artwork here. I had the opportunity to view her work at the Boise Art Museum.

Farrin-Screaming Bear poem only

“Autopsy of a Stillbirth” (Progressing Spirit)

I am grateful today to be sharing a poem from my growing Nag Hammadi collection in the Progressing Spirit newsletter (subscriber access only). Here is an excerpt from the poem, which juxtaposes some of the difficult experiences and questions around miscarriage with verses from the apocryphal Gospel of Truth:

You loved her.
The book of her life cannot be read with the naked eye.
Her holy Word, a folded wing, rustles between the atria.

This broken filament you place inside
your lover’s cavernous ventricle.
Together, you are defibrillating the dark matter.

Is she the voice of God?
You already know. Still, you trace her
through microscopes and hadron colliders,
listening for a wingbeat,
the First and the Last.

This poem, along with two other poems I drafted this week during a workshop at The Cabin literary center in Boise, have now raised the total pieces in this collection (tentatively titled Apocryphal Monologues) to nearly 20. However, I’m hoping to compose at least 5 to 10 more pieces before finding a publisher to give it a home.

“Drying Tatami” & “Failed Adoption” (Sweet Tree Review)

This month has been a busy month of poetry publications! Sweet Tree Review has published two of my poems, a concise prose poem called “Drying Tatami,” and also “Failed Adoption,” which is based on how I experienced our family’s failed adoption of two children in the 1990s. (This experience left such a strong impression, in fact, that my twin sister and I went on as adults to adopt — thankfully without the same heartbreaking result.)

What’s coming: In August I am anticipating several essay publications and at least one poem. I’m also hard at work on drafting a new novel set in mid-19th century rural Japan during the peak of Buddhist persecution. I expect to be working on this novel for the next year or so, but I’ll be sharing some of my research on the blog. There were moments during the 19th century when it appeared Buddhism might be scrubbed from Japanese identity. Sometimes I’m amazed at how it not only survived but even experienced a bit of a renaissance during this fascinating moment in Japan, when the country was opening up to the outside world for the first time in hundreds of years (or, more accurately, when Japan was becoming something that could even be called a modern “country”).

Drying Tatami

You lay out the rice straw on the suspension bridge to bind it. Every three
years, replace the wisteria. When the bridge sways, sag vine—slice…

Continue reading

Failed Adoption

It was snowing in Chicago when the plane landed,
must have been the time taken for the father
to walk two toddlers across a terminal

the same hour bitter-cold in Idaho,
and a pack of dogs in the sheepfold

It was intestines ballooning over wool, it was red on black gums
It was the ewe bleating against the cinderblock wall while the dogs tore while the mother stood for the tender thing
when she made for the door and for the propped gun…

Continue reading

Thank you, as always, for reading my work! You can read the full Summer 2017 issue of Sweet Tree Review here. I especially enjoyed the luminescent “Loss of Mass” by Steven Pan: Scientists once believed they / could weigh the human soul. / In the beginning, you were a / flush of frenzy and copper. / Now, time has decolorized / your fever.

Photo credit: “Iya Valley Vine Bridge,” © Karl Baron.

“Moscow” (Plath Poetry Project)

I am delighted to say that my poem “Moscow,” after Sylvia Plath’s “Berck-Plage,” is now available in the Plath Poetry Project’s June Retrospective.

Telescopic bulge, distended by water—
the waterpark slide has an unfocused blue glow.

Spigot for lollipop-yellow kids on plastic donuts,
one shot after another, film rippling under wrinkled feet.

Flash-flash the sky flares then flattens to slate.
A boy wipes his hand over it and starts again.

How do they find the courage to plunge and plunge?
I sweep chlorinated beads from my shoulder and swim doggedly…

Read the whole poem

About the Plath Poetry Project

Between April 1962 and February 1963, the final months of her life, Sylvia Plath separated from an adulterous Ted Hughes and moved with their young children to London. She experienced England’s coldest winter in 100 years, cared in isolation for her frequently sick children, and faced the underwhelming reception of her now-celebrated novel The Bell Jar. During that time she wrote 67 poems, including many that are widely regarded as her finest work. The record of this productivity, anthologized in sequence and with date-stamps in her Collected Works, shows the fluxing process of one of the greatest poetic minds of the 20th century.

The Plath Poetry Project was begun to encourage writers to engage with Plath’s work and follow her writing schedule between April 1962 and February 1963. Every day that she wrote a poem, the editors of the Plath Poetry Project post that poem and share prompts and encouragement. It is a great project for thinking about one’s own writing process.

(If you enjoy writing poetry personally or professionally, it’s not too late to get involved. You can subscribe for reminders and writing prompts, and to receive the monthly retrospective.)

“Dirge for Pronghorns Poisoned in the Harsh Winter” (Cirque)

My poem, “Dirge for Pronghorns Poisoned in the Harsh Winter,” has been published by Cirque Journal in Volume 8,2. Cirque is an Alaska-based journal that publishes writing and artwork from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Here’s an excerpt and link to the full poem.

Like the grave prows of Norsemen cutting the sea to Valhalla, like the prows black and curled and caught in the wind, caught out-flung and glazed and held aloft by the freezing rain, fifty strong the black-browed pronghorns set out across the white hills, fifty strong the far-runners crossed the unbroken swells and pitched through snow as through sea froth left to freeze where it spilled—and bedded on an ice dam… Continue reading (p. 77)

This poem is based on an actual incident: fifty pronghorns died in Payette, Idaho, after consuming Japanese yew last winter. It was heartbreaking, and I felt I should find some way to honor the deaths of these beautiful animals. Thank you, as always, for reading my work.

Image: Pronghorn antelope at Gibson Lake in southern Oregon, not far from the borders of California and Nevada, seen in May of 2017. © LeeAnn McDonald, BLM

“Scar Tissue” (The Wild Word)

The Wild WordMy poem “Scar Tissue” is now available in The Wild Word Issue #17: FILTH. I approached this unique theme from the perspective of illness, in particular the death of my grandmother from appendix cancer.

To read the whole poem, click here, or read the excerpt below:

Before the industrial
revolution hospice meant rest
for any traveler.
Energy is involved now, a sweaty
sheen on the window pane,
the hum of the nurses’ bodies (the traveler
is cold to the touch but she breathes
in a plastic press [deflated but oxygen is flowing])

…………………………………

Signet cells kings’ rings gathered
and were scraped off the wall
of the abdomen with a needle.

The scar tissue knotted
inside her,
the salvific mouth tears
at her delicate intestinal
tissue. What healed her, the doctor explains,
is now starving her. What his knife
couldn’t penetrate
is the beneficence of the body…

…………………………………

Thank you for reading my work.

~Cassandra