Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Last Marsh Poem


I’ve been awhile away. They’ve mown the summer meadow.
Apple trees emerge beside the winter-tumbled granite wall

where morning glories run, as if in search of a shingled porch
and the trellis they once climbed. I’ve been awhile away.

I used to sit on the last of the narrow gauge’s railroad ties
fallen from the roadside into the sand. It’s streaked more

since the spring, now sepia and coppery-gold as it sinks
deeper into the sea grass. Near the tiny marina, the town

has placed a platform, bolting down a memorial bench 
for the Tiernans, Arthur and Grace, whom I never knew. 

A late sharp east wind herds the clouds like a collie, 
their woolly shoulders colliding in confusion, turning 

the current navy, then bright as they stumble and race 
over hummocks and crab holes. I’ve seen a world here:

the widowed swan, circling her dark reflection in a pool;
snowy egrets’ yellow beaks nervously plucking the flats;

a Great Blue Heron, almost within reach, considering me,
before lifting its wide Prussian blue and slate-colored wings

and long stalk legs straight out behind it, the black toes 
delicately pointed as the first ballet slippers of a child.

I’ve seen a hillside, burning; The Madonna of the Universe;
heard the keen, elusive aria of the red-winged blackbird

as it suddenly flicked its way to where Evy lies. I’ve seen
gulls on patrol; salt hay that gleamed in the sargassos of June

lie down heat-struck in August, whispering with thirst.
I’ve eavesdropped on the gossip of phragmites and sumac.

I’ve watched winter rain rattling the waves out to sea, the tide
leaving its lace as an offering at my feet. I’ve been awhile away.

My little marsh. I won’t come back because you’ve filled me. 
The red king will never win his silver-haired mistress, the moon.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

After Cumae


The Sibyl, singing out prophecies under her breath, 
inscribed them on sun-hammered oak leaves 
and laid their gold in her open mouth 
for the wind to blow away 
since no one in that place could read, 
and cast aside any syllable she sang. 

She dreamt God asked her what she wished for most. 
With her hand, she held up sand and said, 
‘Let me be a poet and live for as long 
as the number of grains I hold.”  

Those who raised her sought 
more than her silence. It grew harder
to eat or sleep. She withered down 
to nothing in their cave, no more than 
the memory of an oak leaf 
skittering across yellow grass.

They hung her whittled carapace 
in a bottle in the trees, and children 
came to poke her with sticks, screaming: 
“Sibyl, Sibyl, what do you want?” 
“I want to die,” she said.

When those who thought her already dead 
discovered she still had her voice, 
they broke her finger bones one by one 
and made a cunning cricket cage 
which they nailed to the rafters 
and forgot her again, not hearing an outcry,

forgetting too that elsewhere crickets 
are caught and kept exactly for their singing--
in cages set on pillows, they chirp through ivory bars
to comfort emperors’ concubines, 
still awake, behind theirs silken ones.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tuesday Poem--Little Cottage


The day I wed silence, the bells were stopped in the campanile,
the flut-flut of the candles were extinguished, the doves

on the red-tiled roof tucked their beaks under their wings,
even their pinfeathers held down by the light of the eclipse.

Held back, the music, but for the note of my ring as I grasped
the goblet to sip the dark wine, my lips speaking softly

the unalterable vows. The shadow of a bishop in his crozier 
and miter leaned over to clip off my hair with his golden shears.

I lifted my arms heavenward for the linen smock, the 'little cottage' 
of the chasuble which I will never abandon. The Virgin in her lunette 

shifted the Babe on her hip and leaned down to put 
the Muse's chrism on my mouth, to both bless and seal it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To My Readers

I am going to be retiring from Tuesday Poem this week and will be closing this blog on June 5, 2012.

I hope those of you who came here found some pleasure in reading my poems.

Thank you all for your kind, thoughtful and perceptive comments during these past two years.

Wishing you all the best,


Monday, May 7, 2012

Tuesday Poem--Forecast by Melissa Green


Raw, Dark, Dank, & Fog. Surely, the names of lawyers or Tyburn executioners
Dickens might have invented. Let’s say, Whipstone Raw. Pinchbeck Dark.

Frogspittle Dank. Cuffington Fogg. This giddy fever makes me laugh out loud.
Whoever they are, they louring over my bedposts now, one knotting rope

for a noose, another shaking open the hood, the third hammering the last
of the scaffold, the fourth assaulting the trap-door with his worn out boots.

In my dreamy state, I don’t seem to mind. It’ll be no more than I deserve
for all my transgressions. They drag me by my muddy shift toward daylight.

I blink in the sun. But when I step barefoot onto the warm splintery wood,
I suddenly pity my poor body, which instigated no trouble in this world,

my innocent foot walking toward its death at the hinge. Somehow worse
than dying is what will certainly follow, and here I sink to my knees:

the autopsy--carving and cracking open my ribs by technicians inured
to human fluids, organs, stringy tendons, fat. I’ll float above the chilled

aluminum table. There’ll be no celestial light beckoning home my soul,
only the swinging shade like a censer over their scalps, the kind of lamp

my father kept low like a tent on a corrugated fence of baby chicks, once
holding me up under it to hear one feathery heart. I won’t be warm again.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tuesday Poeom--A Song on the End of the World by Czesław Miłosz

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.
On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.
And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.
Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world.
There will be no other end of the world.
Czesław Miłosz
Warsaw, 1944

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tuesday Poem--Waiting for Evy by Melissa Green


                  in memory of EM
Across a cream-colored raw silk sky,
the deeply booming fog horn seems to mourn
the ending of the day, ribbons and veils
of chiffon blowing through October’s bloody leaves,
torn from laughing brides whose white limousines
have passed, fog streaming in my summer screens like gauze.
Beyond the church spires through the dusk
there is an answering campanile,
a lighthouse in Boston Harbor,
on an island, on a rock pile, with peeling shakes
and geraniums by the door without its beam alight.
I know all its windows are open.
A rag rug, a table, thickly-painted, beside
the trundle bed. On it are salt-scented,
surf-colored sheets, hemmed in scallop shells,
waiting for a woman to come back from the sea.
Let me tell you how it happened:
she put her palms together to pray, paused,
then plunged into the breakers,
learning to breathe underwater
though it came hard, her ear
turning abalone, the depths disheveling
her quicksilver nightdress as she kicked
in her diving down and vanishing.
She is going to lie on the Atlantic’s deepest altar--
to be unmade--to be colonized again with microscopic pearls,
to be reborn in the beating of the tides,
rhythms which will start up her burdened heart
when the metamorphosis is over.
Moon, keep track of her.
Pebbles chatter as the riptide pulls back stones,
gulls on the seawall pacing anxiously and muttering.
I’m here until darkfall, dawn, day--as long as it takes,
pressing my toes in her freezing Lethe underfoot.