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Poets T

Terris - Taylor (3) - Tustin (4)

It's All Greek
                                           Lo! with a little rod,
                                       I did but touch the honey of romance —
                                          And must I lose a soul's inheritance?
                                                                               — Oscar Wilde

by Susan Terris

Yes, until proved otherwise: innocent, innocent . . .
Not a lover, more a connoisseur of slender works of art.

The form of a cat or cat o’ nine tails. Or of a long-necked
porcelain vase, sleek, newly-laid with Greek keys.

Ah, the Greeks had it right, after all, oiling the naked
boy bodies, crowning them lightly with laurel or olive.

There are sins of commission and omission. Of the two, I
prefer the latter. Boy-becoming/man-not-yet-finished.

Before you judge me, I admit to nothing and everything:

  Illusion is the first of all pleasures. Not only knee breeches
or velvet but flesh close to the bone. And I — a slut for Beauty.

From Contrariwise by Susan Terris. Copyright © 2008 by Time Being Books. Reprinted courtesy of Time Being Press.

For Lucy, Who Came First
by Marilyn Taylor

She simply settled down in one piece right where she was,
in the sand of a long-vanished lake edge or stream--and died.

—Donald C. Johanson, paleoanthropologist

When I put my hand up to my face
I can trace her heavy jawbone and the sockets
of her eyes under my skin. And in the dark
I sometimes feel her trying to uncurl
from where she sank into mudbound sleep
on that soft and temporary shore

so staggeringly long ago, time
had not yet cut its straight line
through the tangle of the planet,
nor taken up the measured sweep
that stacks the days and seasons
into an ordered past.

But I can feel her stirring
in the core of me, trying to rise up
from the deep hollow where she fell—
wanting to prowl on long callused toes
to see what made that shadow move,
to face the creature in the dark thicket

needing to know if this late-spreading dawn
will bring handfuls of berries, black
as blood, or the sting of snow,
or the steady slap of sand and weed
that wraps itself like fur
around the body.

With permission from Marilyn Taylor, Published in Iris 38 (Winter/Spring 1999), 76.

Subject to Change
by Marilyn Taylor

A reflection on my students

They are so beautiful, and so very young
they seem almost to glitter with perfection,
these creatures that I briefly move among.

I never get to stay with them for long,
but even so, I view them with affection:
they are so beautiful, and so very young.

Poised or clumsy, placid or high-strung,
they’re expert in the art of introspection,
these creatures that I briefly move among—

And if their words don’t quite trip off the tongue
consistently, with just the right inflection,
they remain beautiful. And very young.

Still, I have to tell myself it’s wrong
to think of them as anything but fiction,
these creatures that I briefly move among—

Because, like me, they’re traveling headlong
in that familiar, vertical direction
that coarsens beautiful, blackmails young,
and turns to phantoms those I move among.

With permission from Marilyn Taylor, Previously published in POETRY, 180.5 (August 2002)

Studying the Menu
by Marilyn Taylor

Speaking of all those things you'll never eat,
my love--could one of them, in fact, be crow?
Of course it could. But you already know
how poisonous it tastes (if bittersweet).
These days you're craving quite another treat:
the one who will replace me. But that sloe-
eyed, slack-jawed creature's surely going to show
you all the nuance of a bitch in heat.

I hope she has the brains of a golden retriever,
the glamour of an aging manatee,
the refinement of a Packers wide receiver
and finds her favorite books at Dollar Tree.
--And darling, may she be a born deceiver,
and do to you what you have done to me.

With permission from Marilyn Taylor, Previously published in the Alabama Literary Review, Spring, 2007

Flushing High School Detention
by Robert Tustin

They’d keep us kids seated
And silent in the tower
Once used for band practice
Before the budget cuts.
Our misdemeanors mostly
Took the form
Of making others laugh
With doodles or jokes
Just when the teacher
Was telling us something
Of irrevocable importance
Like Pluto is the ninth
Planet in our solar system.
I’d sit staring out the window
Many a weekday afternoon
At the gargoyles
Yawning out on their ledges—
Wings outstretched
And sympathize with their seeming
Need but utter helplessness
To escape into the sanctuary
Of a passing cloud.
I imagined they were once
Flesh and blood and full of life
And mischief and free to roam
The pale blue skies at will before
Some inner city bureaucrat’s pen
With one single stroke
Imprisoned them in stone.

With Permission from the Author Robert Tustin, Copyright © 2019 

The Old Satyr in the Park
by Robert Tustin

ummer’s here
Along with this girl
In her short tight
Mint green dress
With spaghetti straps—
A newborn calf of a girl
All wobbly on her tall
Cork heeled espadrilles.

I want to get down
On one knee before her
And undo
Those dainty ankle straps—
Tell her, “It’s okay,
To run forever barefoot
In the grass
Forgoing all Bacchanals.
Be free
My budding nymph”…

With Permission from the Author Robert Tustin, Copyright © 2019 

"All of Europe Went Into the Making of Me"
by Robert Tustin

"Your English muffin has never had a sunburn in her life."
"I am also Greek and Italian." "I'm super fair
In the winter but turn a golden brown
In the summer."

O I know my sweet
I have seen the full report and I have dreamt
About it since the day I saw it.

Your England and Wales get so wet,
I don't think I could stand it. My fingers
Would take a walking tour and find those
Dark secret places where true pleasure
Hides, just waiting to be discovered. Mine would
Be a proper and a thorough tour. I would come to learn
The topography of that entire thirty one percent of you.

Then off to your mountains and lush vineyards
Of Italy. The weather is perfect here. You are
So warm for me and your kisses taste like
Red wine as I get drunk on them enough
To make me blush. It may be twenty six
Percent of you but it has absolutely
Taken all of me.

And I absolutely get lost amongst
Your Germanic landscape with its long rivers
And old castles and dilapidated cathedrals
That dot that endlessly rolling and lush fatherland
Just waiting to be discovered by me. You have
A deep and varied history. I would learn it,
If you'd let me. I would be the daring duke
Of this fifteen percent of your demesne.

I have always wanted to go to Greece
And though you own only nine percent
It is way too much for me and my
Imagination gets carried away. Here is
Your mountain where you muse it over me.
There are satyrs and nymphs enough here
To sing and dance the night away for us,
But most of all a laurel tree where you gather
The green leaves to gild and make a crown for me.

When I look at you I always seem to see
That seven and that one percent Scandinavian.
Your gorgeously flowing blonde hair in the sun
And your blue-green eyes that sternly yet
Lovingly stare at me to see my flaws but to love
Them and never judge them. Your eyes pierce
Deep to see the battle scars made by former lovers
But also scan the surface because they like
To view the scars acquired by rough and tumble men.
I long to be one worthy of your Valhalla.

Your Russia and your Caucuses are cold.
This six and four percent of you must be
Where you hide past pain. I will brave it if only to warm
That part of you and show you how worthy
Of love I know you are. I build my fire here
High in the mountains and whisper my soothing
Words to the cold winds gathered there. I tell them
Don't worry.Your long lost lover has returned again.

With Permission from the Author Robert Tustin, Copyright © 2019 

by Robert Tustin

The way she gently tucks
that wayward stray of silver hair
with care behind her ear--
a treasure will be mine someday
to keep safely secreted away
in a golden locket
in a lacquer box
in a long mahogany dresser drawer
in among my underwear and socks
in a lonely bedroom
in an apartment on the second floor
in a building with many apartments
beneath this particularly spectacular cluster of stars.

With Permission from the Author Robert Tustin, Copyright © 2019 



© copyright 2008 - Last Updated: 09/19/2021