Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sample Poems: Volume 27, Numbers 1 and 2

Mary Walks on Water
By Jackie Bartley

The river in winter: snow,
a white heart falling, splintering
into its icy selves,
streams delivering their chill,
the unsung verse of a song she used to know.
If only she could remember, the white
ribbon of thought could make it whole,
bring out the god in this wilderness.

They had wanted a scapegoat,
a person, a reason for sorrow. At first,
she had been unwilling, had her doubts.
But now she sees they'll drive themselves mad
without some comfort.

So she walks this river hardened past the solstice,
a crust over water flowing dark as coal,
to enter the dream of the bear
in its cave somewhere in these hills,
to be like the salmon
laboring its way in the shallows,
a muscle of fear glinting in the sun,
the bear's first meal.

Bear of my grieving,
Bear of hate and fear,
Bear, on the edge of sleep,
do not enter that blackness fattened
into lethargy, dulled by the cold.
Let the dream come back in new form
as matter reshapes itself according
to its state.

How softly she treads.
Her senses ready themselves
to the slightest shifting.
She walks on water, prepared
to ease its flow, alter its course,
sure now of what she has chosen:
a way to retrieve beauty, savor
love, enter the bear's dark heart.

The Wake
By Allison Baker

July morning, white sky fat
with the planet's condensed breath,
bay slick as oil, the quick red fox
slips her nose into the shallows
and slides a mollusk from sanctuary.

A dance and toss, a swallow, and in dusk,
under cotton sky on hard soaked sand, I attend
the last moment of a razor clam.

I breathe. Without a glance she turns and trots
toward the raw new house on the bluff.
A leap into saw-grass and gone.

And then the dawn.

A Walk-Off Home Run
By Theodore Deppe

for David Ortiz

Your teammates scramble
          from the dugout
                      to greet you at home plate
and, as you approach,
           they start singing your song,
                      or, trying
to sing it
          (few of them know
                      the Spanish lyrics)-
most serenade you
          with their own wordless
                      versions of the tune,
chanting meaningless syllables
          that merge
                      with the crowd's din.
The camera
          pans to the bleachers
                      where no one's going
anywhere, and for once
          the announcers
                      are silent.
Enough to let the roar
          and pictures tell the story:
                      the crowd's
dancing in place,
          everyone with their own
                      dithyrambic shouts of joy.
and yes, there's power
          in a song
                      when everyone sings and
believes the same words,
          but better still
                      this anthem of chaotic praise,
strangers and friends
          finding their own
                      ways to celebrate:
two nuns doing the merengue
          in the aisle, a boy who can't
                      stop jumping up and down,
and this one old man
          quietly weeping,
                      his mouth opening and closing
as if unable to find words
          for whatever's passed
                      like a dowsing rod
over him. The stadium lights
          shine on his cheeks
                      and he shakes his head
as if he knows
          this was just a game, and yet
                      something has happened
that's left him speechless.
          All around him
                      people sing in tongues,
thirty-something thousand
          variations on the hymn to joy,
                      while back on the field
the players
          try now to look serious-
                      there's one more game to win
to make the playoffs-
          but the crowd keeps cheering,
                      the Boston night
is filled with song, and the camera
          returns for one last glimpse
                      of the weeping man,
his mute words
          somehow necessary
                      in this chorus of praise.

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