by Elaine S. Nussbaum
The poems in Blood Moon recount the first eighteen months of the Covid-19 pandemic. Elaine Nussbaum’s personal narrative is interwoven with social issues, climate change, and astronomical events, such as the blood moon that occurred simultaneously with a blue moon on Oct 31, 2020. The titular poem from the collection pays tribute to Marvin Bell and his “Dead Man” poems—
All the dead people can’t live without you Marvin, and the live people cannot die
We are a country washed up on a beach after a shipwreck.
The tide is coming in, and the waves are getting closer
It is raining and we are naked…
Help will be coming in eighty days, but how do we get through this without eating each other?
ENJOY A VIDEO OF ELAINE READING FROM THE BOOK:
Elaine Nussbaum — A Featured Poet on The Poetry Box LIVE (July 2022)
About the Author
Elaine Nussbaum lives in Scappoose, Oregon with her partner, David, three cats, five hens and a rooster named Echinacea. When she is not working as a substitute teacher at a juvenile detention facility, infusing poetry into the curriculum, she is writing in her cabin surrounded by 3 and 1/2 acres of second growth forest. Every fall, salmon spawn in the creek which runs through her front yard. In her spare time, Ms. Nussbaum enjoys cross-country skiing and sea kayaking. Currently, she and David are restoring a 37-foot sailboat, and plan to sail the inside passage to Alaska next summer.
Ms. Nussbaum holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University (2013), and a Certificate in Writing from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Boulder University (1986). Her work has appeared in Poetry Seattle, Bombay Gin, The Sun, Spilt Infinitive, Louisiana Literature, Silk Road, Thimbleberry, Artists and Climate Change, Persimmon Tree, Headline Poetry and Press, and Terrain. A chapbook of her work, Poems in the Key of D Flat was published by Overwrought Press, in 1992, and a collection of her poetry, Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest was published by Finishing Line Press, in September 2019. She also has a poem appearing in Support Ukraine (anthology by Moonstone Press, 2022)
Early Praise for Blood Moon:
In this series of mostly prose poems, the reader’s brought face to face with the immense malaise of our moment. The focus moves from the natural world to the various disasters surrounding us: homelessness, wildfires, Covid, social unrest. I admire the ordinary details of a life woven into the fabric of a poetry of witness. Check it out!
—Joseph Millar, author of Dark Harvest
Elaine Nussbaum’s Blood Moon reads like a personal journal of the COVID pandemic with seemingly stream of consciousness observations, until you realize that by weaving past and present, national, and local events, she shows how each reflects on another. Sometimes the speed of happenings is dizzying as her images race through history along with the progress of the pandemic from early fears and errors to the exhaustion of two years later. She captures the sense of suspension we all felt, even as we went about daily life. Her view is both sweeping and micro-focused. World death count, presidential election, Western forest fires, the local grocery store, and birds outside her window. Are all connected?
—Sherry Rind, author of Between States of Matter
and The Store-House of Wonder and Astonishment
The poems in Blood Moon are shards of light wrested from a dark and chaotic time in our history. Nussbaum journeys deep into our collective experience of the pandemic and emerges with poems of remarkable beauty and resonance. As the Covid death toll climbs, wildfires rage, and protestors clash in the streets, the poet struggles to make sense of the madness and draws strength and solace from the natural world: the changing seasons, cycles of the moon, and resiliency of wild creatures.
Nussbaum is a master of closely observed, finely rendered images: the feeling of a pinky finger grazing the back of a stranger’s hand; ivory-colored butterflies with two charcoal dots on each wing.
Though firmly rooted in a specific moment time, these poems are about more than living through the pandemic. They are about how to keep our hearts open and our spirits intact even when the world is burning down around us. This is a nightmare/ we will wake up from, she writes. The Rufus Hummingbird/ still searches for sugar water/ in the red-based feeder.
—Gwen McNeir, author of An Animal with Wings
Kristina Hakanson –
Blood Moon’s arrangement is tight, and though chronological, it reads expansively, recursively. The variety of pieces shows Elaine Nussbaum’s range from haiku-like images to short lyric pieces to longer narratives. Throughout it all, Nussbaum gives us the moons, the shades of red, the pandemic, the politics, the deaths, the students, the slender wisteria branch, and the yellow broccoli flowers.