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the husbanding of poems

around certain
poems communities
gather around certain
poets worlds

some verses promise
a soft place to land
others shock and stop
the heart and may
not start it up again

you’ll know
the nature of the
communal poet by
the imitation that
surrounds him
and the maker
of worlds by
his space

in every instant
that I hold back ink
command its flow
upon the page or in
the reader’s eye
I lose my rights to
claim the title poet
fall behind to join
the ranks of free
verse tyranny


Selkie’s Final Word

Do not bring your weather to me, do not
share your salt-spray summer days, your basking
slathered bellies on bare rock. What you’ve caught
with net and reel is for private screening.

I’ve cut the lines you wrapped around my throat;
their length, at length, you may require. Measure
doldrums while you lament your creaking boat,
catches strung, digested for your pleasure.

“To know a man,” says the poet, “is to
be that man*,” but what you did not know of
you became my albatross, a weighted two
that nearly drowned us both. That was not love!

We keep alive what we resist, so fade.
Through my embrace may come fresh winds of trade.

(*line excerpted from “The Sail of Ulysses” by Wallace Stevens)
© Elaine Stirling, 2013
–Image of Selkie, artist unknown, from