Beth Joselow

Three poems from Ice Fishing

Volume 17:1, Winter 2016
Some Of Us Press Issue

Ice Fishing

In the little place of peace
your body is a window
opening on llamas, rabbits
giraffes, the silent animals
padding across sands of every color
a private desert, a secret
warmth we discovered
ice fishing under your eyes.

In the winter of your window
I am hanging my lamp so that
all the animals can remember
and come home night after night.

Ice FishingThea

Thea is an icebreaker
Cruising the Arctic Ocean
She breaks open the dangers
And saves some of us,
She is a barnacled ship
Gone three times to the bottom,
Each time she rises
She is brand new again.

Thea is a fire built in a snowstorm,
Pine logs needles and knots
Putting up a pot of coffee for you,
She is your Coleman lantern,
She is everything your eyes tell you,
When you are out walking at 2 a.m.
She is the only house in the neighborhood
With all of her lights burning.

Thea is the air around you,
She arranges your travel
To foreign countries where she always
Smells a little bit different,
She carries bacteria and pollen,
Molds with curative properties, like penicillin,
She moves in and out of your body,
She is in all of your rooms.

Thea is the earth in your garden.
She is a place to lie down,
Seeds tuck themselves into her pockets.
Insects leave their larvae in her care.
Animals believe she is a part of them,
Like legs or teeth,
Farmers turning up her layers every spring
Marvel at each of her surprises.

Beth Joselow, 1974.

Beth Joselow, 1974.

Ice Box

The refrigerator is angry,
She is tired of being
The family cornucopia,
She announced today
There will be no more hands
Coming inside
Grabbing around
For the best stuff,
She refuses to light up
When we open the door.

She said that seven years
Of family living
Have been a torture of hands
Stuffing her until she drips
And then taking the best away again,
Leaving her with leftovers,
Things no one else wants.

She turned her button up to nine
She says she is freezing us out.


Joselow first heard about the Mass Transit readings and Some Of Us Press from Terence Winch, who was then working at Discount Books in Dupont Circle. Joselow writes: “Sometimes there were as many as 40 people at Mass Transit, sometimes only a dozen or so, but it was always an enthusiastic group…Because the readings were set up to allow for no critique, not even applause, it was a great place to get your feet wet. You really wanted to have something to read every week, so it made you write. I was a Mass Transit junkie. Eventually, I was very proud to edit one of the Mass Transit mags (#5) with Peter Inman, and to have SOUP publish my first book, Ice Fishing, in 1974…I felt a little bit out of the boundaries of the group, amorphous though it was. I was one of a very few of us who was married (I was only 24!) and soon I was pregnant…When my daughter, Thea, was born in 1974, Ed Cox and Michael Lally wrote poems for her, and Ahmos Zu-Bolton dedicated a reading to her when she was three weeks old.”

Beth Baruch Joselow (1948 - ) was born in DC and raised in Baltimore. She is the author of five books of poetry and several chapbooks, as well as Writing Without the Muse, a handbook of creative writing exercises, and two books of nonfiction on divorce. Her poetry books include: Begin at Once (Chax Press, 2007), Excontemporary (Story Line Press, 1993), The April Wars (Sultan of Swat Books, 1983), and Gypsies (Washington Writers Publishing House, 1978). Her Some Of Us Press book, Ice Fishing, was her first publication, released in 1974. During the 1980s and 90s, Joselow was the literary editor of the Washington Review of the Arts, and was awarded four grants from the DC Commission on the Arts. She has collaborated with artists in the US, Russia, Ukraine and Portugal; an artists’ book created with visual artist Pavel Makov titled The Fountains of Exhaustion/The April Wars is in the collections of the Osaka Museum and the State Museum in Kiev. In 1998, Joselow was a guest at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, for its Third International Poetry Conference, featuring 75 poets from three continents. She has been a fellow of The Millay Colony. Until 2004, Joselow taught writing and liberal studies at The Corcoran College of Art and Design. She currently works as a mental health counselor in Lewes, Delaware. To read more by this author: Four Poems, Spring 2000