Mary Moore







What Angst Says


That ache like bone spurs worrying

your shoulder blades may bode

a wing-span like Michelangelo’s

muscular angels,

or a backpack of guilt

like the crone’s hump

in “Hansel and Gretel.”


That tingling in

your feet—un-danced

fandangos or the urge

to sleep, feet resting

on the ottoman’s leathery back.


What twitches

under your eye? A mole-to-be,

or the spot where a new sense

will emerge, like the eye-

shaped stain on a moth’s

light-colored wing?


The noise of thinking

you can hear the haze drowse

on the vineyard or the sizzle

of burning hedges like bridges


stings, spurs and urges you

onward. Even the elms

are abuzz with expectation.






The creek, mud-brown, knuckles

its way over logs and stones, buckling

over slate.  It gouged metal foil

says water is not a soul.

But air’s clarity has dominion

in these leafless deciduous woods. You can even

come to love the Eighteenth-Century sepia-

print look—paper-white sky, woods beige,

the interstices between the stones dull

umber worn by water’s vow to null

even stone. Even the mine’s shut mouth

is drowned brown.  Is it the stones, the shadow arteries

of the trees, or earth itself that weeps sepia?




In the Tenth Year of the Afghan War



An orchard of masts and the colors

they’re painted in––cobalt,

bright white––and the brown

greens of hills,

rough-edged, pine-bristled, fir-sown––



The harbor is green and the water flat.

The reflections are likewise.

The white masts fly ropes and ghosts

of ropes, rolled tri-

and fore- sails, air’s blue

flags.  There’s faint music:

the metal fittings bell

softly with the swell.

A man greets a guest, “Ahoy.”

Joke or a boast?



Like the boats suited

to light’s glint and flick, the dazzle

of forms fit precisely

for their duties, we lie side by side,

somnolent, your hips a boy’s,

your hair a red blond halo.

Not sainted, martyred

or married, as Saint

Paul would have it, joyful

teacher and thinker

of thinkers, you sow neither

children nor tears.



In this, the tenth year

of the Afghan war,

the booms and horns of late afternoon

yacht races: you wake

to that luck, maneuver

back up through dreams.

Bars of light and shade

the blinds shed louver

one arm.  Our moods are attuned

to twos:  light and shade, on, off, this, that

me, you.  You cannot sleep, you say,

and I inhabiting the world where

you just woke up

will not disrupt

the tissue of dream in which

you have not dreamed,

in which the room and me,

the marina beside the green harbor,

agree to these seams,

ours and the world’s––

waking, sleeping, here, there, breath

death––so loosely sutured.



On the ferry, the cargo ships

dwarf us.  Red, blue, and green

boxes, house-sized, ride

in stacks impossibly high on

each slow hulk.  Two miniscule

kayakers go by, one blue-coated

seed to each fragile husk.

A yacht sails by, miniaturized

against the black hull,

sails full, bowed, in that ancient

imitation of flying

crescent moons.



The yachts lay white masts on the water.

The barely moving swell

wrinkles the lines like print-outs

of heart-beats, voices.

Each oscillation records another

inkling of the mystery––fear, desire,

breath, death, another hesitation

under fire, a fatal pause.

But the masts cease

creasing and beating at night

and the lights that necklace

the harbor come on, mirrored

on the almost immoveable.

Each reflected star morphs,

points, narrows.  The harbor

wears a necklace of swords.




Reading the Writing on the Sky


Luminous jets trails criss-cross the view,

a chalk of exhaust

now that all looking’s a risk—a seeing

whether-or-not, an innocence exposed

like Mary’s blue eyes in Giotto.


Traces of witness—

as if to regard is to guard

against night-terrors, sweats, to secure

our icons from fear.


I imagine their eyes sky-blue, pilots’

I mean, like my father’s, clear and guileless

in his Air Force photo.

But once secured, the sky is no longer free.


Not quite the evidence of deity

the heaven I want—

intentless, all space and innocence.


I walk the dog in the woods trusting

the ordinary day.  When we stop,

the dog looks up at trees.

His eyes, light-spattered

like wet brown leaves, so open

they’re empty, receive and receive.

My looking washes the sky

with the blue of wishes.

Through the trees the jet trails enlarge,

expand and dissolve, white

as the whites of our eyes.




The Weather of Longing


Woke to wind’s tug of war with weeds on the slope;

ragged blues, steeples pointing at sky,

hayfields tugged  uphill.  Bits of sky flew

through my mother’s cloud-white fly-away

hair.  She smelled of ozone and flint

in the dream.  On the curb, light-fringed like a door,

like all thresholds and portals, she stands.  After

eighty years of crossword and whiskey, she goes

where fire goes when it’s out.  She loosens flight

from the bow of her spine, and follows

my father, the arrow.  I love her wholly

and without question now she is feathered

with longing, going out in its weather.












My work is forthcoming in Unsplendid, Cider Press Review, and Nimrod, and has appeared most recently in Drunken Boat, Birmingham Poetry Review No 41, and in its 25th Anniversary Issue, Santa Fe Review, Nimrod’s 2011 Awards Issue (finalist), Sow’s Ear Review  (finalist in 2012 contest) , 10 x 3, Connotation Press (January 2013), Evolutionary Review, Cavalier Literary Couture, American Poetry Journal, 2riverview, Prairie Schooner.  Earlier credits include Kestrel, Sow’s Ear Review, Poetry, Field, New Letters (awards issue), Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Negative Capability and more.  My first collection, The Book of Snow, was published by Cleveland State University in 1997.

I teach Renaissance literature with an emphasis on gender issues and poetry at Marshall University in West Virginia.

Articles similaires