January 20, 2020

Under this shroud
anything passes. This mastless drift
of ships dreams turgid wakes
slopped by mud on weed slime
haven walls. In ports, seeped back
to faded maps, steeples disappear. Streets
drain into hidden homes where no-one
fillets scrimshaw scrapes or
rottensmells old bones, fished
from soups in whittled time.
Nothing here
but the haunt.

Beth McDonough

Mrs. Danvers and I

January 20, 2020

put out at dawn aboard Rebecca’s boat
and, sails bent on, un-moored and set a course
south by southwest about the Roseland Coast.
We made good time to Coverack, where we docked
and purchased fuel, rations, tools, and twine,
then, casting off again, tilled hard alee,
and, battening down, made ready for the storm.
The lighthouse, thankfully, was burning bright.
Rough seas and foul. Cabin sole awash.
By miracle we rounded Lizard Point
which, having sighted steam north by northeast,
we had determined, rashly, to accomplish
that very night — though ancient mariners
had warned, first laughing, then in grave concern,
it might not be attempted on their lives.
We shortened sail. Hove to. I slept
as soundly as one could, and was awakened
past daybreak, to clear skies, the scent of ham
and eggs, calm seas, and Mrs. Danvers’ kiss.
Once underway, we put about and stood,
stood, steady as she goes, for Llangollen
or rather up the Channel and the Severn
toward Gloucester and the Cotswalds where we came
to port and land. Abandoning the boat,
from there to Birmingham we went by train.
We must have looked a sight, we two, alone,
our windswept hair, our salt-stained, still damp clothes,
our faces wild with staggering from the sea!
From Birmingham we caught the east-bound train
toward Holyhead, alit at Ruabon, and thence we strolled,
like ladies, newly combed and freshly pinned,
along the winding lanes toward Llangollen.
The village, then as now, does not impress.
We took a room in town and dined alone.
Next day we searched for lodgings. There was one
quaint cottage we particularly loved,
almost a ruin, lonely, overgrown
with roses, vines, and mosses…In the end,
we had not funds enough to rent the place.
We chose a home in Llantysilio
three miles off and, winter fast approaching,
began the work to keep each other warm.

Samantha Pious


January 20, 2020

The unbecoming begins
on an autumn Thursday.
You cross your legs, milk-blue,
and I throb because your knees look
meant for my protection.
That is all; that is everything.

Your shoe taps mine and everything
in my body begins
reverberating. I think, I need protection
from Thursdays.
I wonder if my lover looks
at my green eyes and see yours, blue,

than everything
I’ve dared desire. Look
how quickly my defenses begin
to wither—the wait until Thursday
my last flaccid protection

from insanity. (Why lie? I’m protecting
nothing.) I’m buried in the blue.
I can’t recover Thursdays;
has begun
(long ago started) to crumble. Look

at my lover saying look,
we’re not okay; she wants to protect
what she and I began.
How do I tell her I’ve blued
us to nothing? Everything
we had, I gave Thursdays.

This Thursday,
give me a bricked look
that says everything
is as it was. Protect
me from the blue.
(Or, rather, conquer me. Begin

staining everything I’ve protected
the same sin as your blue
eyes.) Thursday: (don’t) let us look and begin.

Alaina Symanovich

bathed in moonlight

January 20, 2020

On the side of the road bathed in moonlight, the olive trees looked like the silver clouds floating six feet above the ground, and the cypresses like black feathers.

Pauline Réage
The Story of O

Don’t know

January 20, 2020

Before I write a poem, I ask myself what poetry is. I don’t know, and I still don’t know, even though I’ve written hundreds of poems. I have swarms of questions about poetry buzzing around my head. What is it for? What does it do? How is it done? Can I do it? Do I know how to do it? Then while I’m writing a poem: Is this any good? What good will it do? Will anyone think this is a poem? Do I think it’s a poem? Then after I write a poem: How is this a poem, really? What does it mean? Where did it come from? Does it fit anywhere?

Mary Meriam
The Scandalous Confessions of a Lesbian Formalist Poet
The Critical Flame, June 2019