W.F. Lantry




(Washington, DC, USA)







Be the Mirror of Life in the Eyes of the Dove


We walk the riverwood and celebrate

the beauty of this earth, the vibrant leaves,

birdsong whose unseen source is hidden by

a thousand fruits and flowers. We delight

in every aspect of the azure sky,

uniting all creative sight perceives:

the forms of clouds, the vigor of the wind.


But in our exaltation, we begin

to mirror all we see, wish to reframe

that beauty with our hands, and reinvent

those images that move us, and rewrite

the patterns of the wind, the slow ascent

of song or smoke, as if a hidden flame

warmed everything around us, and renewed


the hidden songs our ecstasies pursued,

the half-heard messages we understand

within our hearts and struggle to express

with our own words. Our voices reunite

both wind and leaf, and through them, we possess

reflections of that beauty and expand

the green boundaries of life we recreate.



Prayer To Aphrodite


I don’t know if you’re there or you can hear-

I’ve never even seen you, but I’ve heard

sometimes you answer, silently. Should I

invoke your distant, iridescent throne,

the small doves bearing you across the sky,

or simply whisper an uncommon word

to hint, discreetly, at my sudden need?


I have this small request: please intercede

with due consideration, delicate

and deft. No brazen trick will mend this case,

no pearl necklace, no florid cologne

could serve here, turn contingency to grace-

employ some stratagem that may befit

the situation, change strife to repose


and restore peace. Or help me now compose

some whispered incantation, some small prayer

invoking indications of your will,

and let your blessing be her steppingstone

back to the path of harmony. Instill

in her your spirit, and gently prepare

the phrase I’m meant to whisper in her ear.





… and these are not the colors of the sun,

nor are these words intended. What the earth

brings to us, seems to be what the earth gave

a thousand times before. If what we knew

could halt this wind, then what we haven’t learned

would seem less valued. Now, considering


what’s half resigned within us, incarnate

in whispers, seems to mirror what we’ve lost,

or hope to lose. And yet, connections of

our making, half revealed as we turn

again to patterns of continual

silence within these open ports of stone


construct, within these margins, unconcealed

by any hint of certainty, a sign

illegible, but there: immutable

unread, but filled with other harmonies

envisioned from another, distant place

on this same earth, but half a world away…



Ti Bon Ange

(for Louis Duteau)


« Nobody knows you. But I sing of you… »

~ Lorca


Out of the leaves of cimorra, out of the thunder

out of the rain falling on a sea I’ve never known

out of the hurricane, ouragon and samedi

out of the pale sky and the slow whisperings of gathered voices,

instruments and dancers and half-remembered songs

poems like rivers flowing already from the open mouth

out of the memory of someone you never knew

chanting in a language you would never speak

Louis, beginning, already lost…


I cannot know what fires fed you then

nor if the ocean around you seemed a home

nor what the young women said of you before you turned

nor if you lingered in empty rooms while the rada vibrated

or in a cathedral obeying the romanized words

I cannot know if you followed then houngan or monsignor

or if the wind called you in another language

nor anything else of importance


But I do know that no hand was needed to sign a paper

at a crossroads a single glance is enough

or a simple word spoken over crystal

a waving of iron in the mountains

or a half-noticed suggestion in a still foreign tongue


and I know how it feels the first winter

the dark cold days on your skin and mine

and how the seasons begin to build without notice

how the daily nuanced words are unheard

how to work in silence in a landscape of closed ears

in a landscape of eyes unlit by a discernible fire


and I know the pages of your work, bound together

would displace less than the pages of the dead at Limbe,

less than the orders of Dutty, the treacherous contracts of Toussaint,

thinner than a single US marine quartermaster’s log

or the manifest of an Atlantic squarerigger


yet these are the pages we worked together

these the rivers we’ve translated

and our voices rode over the various waves

in a confluence of uncounted languages


how could we know the nature of the crossroads

the words you commanded for your rest

when we last poured gifts to the four corners of the world


but you knew, even then. And perhaps a single whisper

half-prayed to loa or saint passed your lips

in a language I might have understood

had I been listening


had I understood the fountain

understood the twin snakes and what they gave

had I known the woman at the river

the green of the early leaves of cimorra

the black of our lengthening shadows

or the red of eroded earth


but now, out of the unconstrained river of your song

out of the wind and the small dust

out of the birth of another unknown to me

out of all I’ve known and lost, and all you cannot lose

out of the languages we could almost share

out of all we could not

Louis, I have made for you this song.











About the Poet


W.F. Lantry, native of San Diego, received his Maîtrise from L’Université de Nice, and PhD in Creative Writing from University of Houston. His poetry collections are The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree 2012)winner of a 2013 Nautilus Award in Poetry, The Language of Birds (Finishing Line 2011), a retelling of Attar’s Conference of the Birds, and a forthcoming collection The Book of Maps. Recent honors include the Hackney Literary Award in Poetry, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (in Israel), and Potomac Review Prize. His work appears in Atlanta Review, Asian Cha and Aesthetica. He currently works in Washington, DC and is an associate fiction editor at JMWW.



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