Bill Yarrow







Poems from The Vig of Love (Glass Lyre Press 2016).





partners in sunset

the owl and I in ballet

he: the small flame in the wind



the last tremor in space

like a tongue deep in my ears

the snow came from Andalusia

I survive myself

I circle the summits

of the depths I reach

reflections of the hawk

faint mountain silhouette

in what heart’s alchemy

do I turn you golden?

in what heaven are you




I am the billow of a sail

bright shadow

of the electrical storm


beside me

the swollen weather


I am the same surface

as the sea gone to fight


the fossils

abandon me

to the lonely trees


we try to be a geometry



an invitation to kinship


an invitation to the sacristy


its door of yellow dust


the barnacle announces the debacle:

I am the overgrown garden

the broken roof of the abandoned chapel


it is no longer dawn in Granada



so I will grow fat

and die


the hawk, my vizier


I, his song


partners in sunset

silent sensate beings

[[[[[[[[                                                                ]]]]]]]]

                     we circle each other


I am my neighbor’s journey

of a thousand miles


the sun bakes me in a shell

the carts of Compostela

carry me to caves


embittered with moss


the owl circles my surrender

the sun demands a chrysalis


the blossoms


(lacking mercy)


gesture ineptly

to see me now

is to see a curtain

of the mind


a canvas of the body


Andalusia, like a seraph, stands tiptoe on its wings



the blood of hounded days

decays, reduced to a paste

of travesty and verdigris


someone is a ballet surgeon

someone is a hand dancer

someone balances a bowl of sugar on her knees


the moon is a hawk

with its beak

in my eye



scribe of fire


Velasquez beside me


on the opposite side of the river

in flight beside the wind


the owl charges the sun


the activity is continuous

I am born

in the instant      of amethyst


*                 *                 *                 *                 *                 *                 *


a Bedouin holds a petal

out to the owl


the hawk bristles


the sun is taken to its butterfly


suddenly the snow

comes from Andalusia



I lie down in amethyst

all my dreams show

black silhouettes of ballerinas

in tungsten and shade

hawks retracing their steps

a land unremorseful


a sea unprepossessing


there is no weather

to speak of



for the owls







above their wings



(first published in Up the Staircase)






This is the story of the man whose wife lived in his neck. Every morning, he would turn to her and say, « Hello, sweetheart, how was your night? » and she would answer, Brilliant! What else? by which she meant she didn’t sleep a wink but rather thought unceasingly through the long darkness and solved each of the burdens he would face during his day. In that way, he was protected from harm, and affection toward her swelled in his heart. What a comfort to have his wife not even a muscle away from his attention. Their marriage thrived, but unlike other successful ventures in the world, this one was never in danger of collapse. There would be no shift in interest or intent. Symbiotic happiness was the key, for he continually manipulated and massaged her, touching her where she ached to be touched, kneading her where she needed to be kneaded. Then one day, she informed him that she wanted to move.


« Where? » he asked.


To the other side, she answered.


« It won’t be the same over there, » he cautioned, and it wasn’t. From over there, he neither looked nor sounded the same. Something in him had altered and not for the better. She began, though the descent was gradual, to sleep lower and lower. She rested in his shoulder now where he was meatier and where it was harder for him to hear her breathing. Her protection thinned to a threadbare covering, more irritant than asset. He wanted to dig into her, but she was impossible to reach, so deep had she sunk into him. Would it only be a matter of time until she completely dissolved and joined the others in his blood?  Who would he look to when, in pain, he twisted and itched? Suddenly, he felt something behind him. She had turned the corner and lodged just below the hair on the back of his head. That felt perfect. That felt just right. That felt fine. « Hello, sweetheart, » he said, « how was your night? » My night? How was my night? Dazzling! Just Dazzling!



(first published in Aeolian Harp, Volume One)






The large project over which he could preside no longer for someone had moved the mirror and the assembling could go no further had spread itself, a redolent chaos, on the floor before him, which lay, like tea, like Pascal, like the puddle of hope, which man is to take into his arms at the end of days, so he announces he will renounce food, renounce friendship, lay waste the industry within him, and months pass, and the night comes, the night of the seeming end of days, but he was not any closer to the gathering of shards than he was to the gathering of smoke, and, so, he turns, turns to Pascal, that transubstantiative miracle of the future, whom people ask after, to whom all questions come, Pascal, who can redeem those passive in their incapacity, reclaim those incapable of the puzzle whose picture they can only despair, and, searching the reaches of his solitude, Pascal finds in him the strength he lacked to dissipate his diffidence, so that notwithstanding his premonition of mute peripeteia, he resolves to return, to reengage the tide of time, to step insistent back to life, welcomed by forces encouraging him to triumph utterly or fatally to fail, the divers parts or the diverse whole, but his rose is broken, and he can only watch as he walks to his brother’s exculpation, to his own, as the map divides against itself making the decision in favor of lasting, to let the world persevere in jagged pieces, so time (as is the case also with space) lays him low, forcing him with exigent speed to repudiate his former selves, but at being left to themselves, the fragments, one by one, rise in energy, reassume their fervor, leave him falsely buoyant, falsely pious, falsely joyous, in servile salute, in sallow soul, in flesh confession, which he (Pascal) feels in his heart began that night.















Bill Yarrow, Professor of English at Joliet Junior College and an editor at the online journal Blue Fifth Review, is the author of The Vig of Love, Blasphemer, Pointed Sentences, and five chapbooks. His work has been published widely.


He has been nominated eight times for a Pushcart Prize. More information about Bill can be found on his website:


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