Marly Youmans

The Rose of Laughter,
Laughter of the Rose

The cats are tucked in the sphinx position.
The Fool kneels down to imitate the cats.

His hat, a black-and-white boy-balzo, rolls
Away; his ears are cold without his hat.

So boxed, he might be funerary scribe
From Egypt: squared basalt, plus head. So boxed

He might be dead, except a rumbling noise
Suggests he is alive. And: cat. He might

Be a cat. Courtiers arrive, dawdling
And gossiping. What's this? What can it be?

Laughter flowers like a lotus, rose, blue
Poppy, peony--like laughter-flowers

The Floralist arranges in a vase
To gladden every room. The Floralist

Laughs; the rosy chamber shakes with outcries
And hoots. The Fool is in the midst of laughs;

He is like a heart of yellow pollen
That glories in the air. He lives. He is.

The Red King sweeps into the room and smiles.
Cats awake and bounce aside. The Red King

Marvels at the golden motes of sunlight
Spun from the air. The world's full of marvels,

Someone says. The King helps the Fool to rise:
Someone laughs, someone sings, someone says.

The Grail

The Fool knows better. He knows all the things
The world says. He knows every rippling field
And every shower of orchard petals
Is no less, no more than a passing bell.
He knows. And yet, and yet, there is the grail,
Solid in his hand and chased with golden
Mysteries, from which he drinks. It's more than
Alchemy, more than mere gold, more than
Essence of the rose, more than tidal spring.
And as he drinks, the fount, the sluice, the spill
That he knows more than anything though less
Often, possesses him and pours through flesh
In secrecy, with breaking, making power.
And while it falls, and afterward when he
Is dreaming still and stilled by after-shock,
There's nothing that he knows that matters more.

The Fool and the Sublime

The all within him worthy of our love
Shows how the Fool swapped ill for better ways
And how he loved what loveliness reveals.
--Limner, Court of the Red King

And when the Red King sings on top the tower called the Spear
While the full moon, delicate and bright and ringed with rainbow,
Rises like a vast soap bubble over the chimney pots
And Precious Wentletrap awakes and glimmers on the waves,
The Fool is lifted like an airship from his earthly self
And flutters in his joy and pride as if he'd made the song,
As if he'd always known the name of Precious Wentletrap,
As if he'd danced attendance on the making of the lands,
As if he'd been frisking at the roots of the world when life out-sprang.

The Red King's Blossom-Tide

The Red King's orchard-close is blossoming,
And fragrance reaches as far as ships at sea
And regions of the far barbarians.
The King alone may walk inside the close
And look at the spring sky through flower-froth
Or stand in petal rain until the pink
And white obscures and crowns him with its snow.

Some gossips claim a woman made of blooms
Walks under petal-clouds with the Red King,
Her loveliness forbidden to all eyes
But his, so what they do and say is hid
Unknown, under the petals' cumulus.
The Royal Orchard Keeper will not speak
Except to praise the orchard's fruitfulness,
To ban bonfires and torches near the close,
To wrap the precincts in a cloud of hush
That no one but the Fool can dare disturb.

His head naked of any birthday hat,
His eyes reflecting dazzlements of white,
His staff a branch that's blossoming with stars,
The Fool goes wandering outside the walls,
Singing ancient May-songs to the trees:

Let our May in frolic hour
    Make garland gaieties,
Let the sunshine bless the flower:
    Swell the fruit of May-trees.


Marly Youmans is the author of four novels, two books of Southern fantasy for young adults, and a collection of poetry. Forthcoming poetry books are: The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press, March 2011), The Foliate Head (UK: Stanza Press, tba, with artwork by Clive Hicks-Jenkins), and Thaliad, a post-apocalyptic epic poem in blank verse (Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing, late 2011.) She also has three novels due out in the near future: Glimmerglass and Maze of Blood from P. S. Publishing in England and A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, winner of the first annual Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction (Mercer University Press, 2011). Earlier work in Mezzo Cammin: 2010.2, 2010.1, 2009.2, 2009.1, 2008.2, 2008.1, & 2007.1.


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Marly Youmans

Fifth-Anniversary MC Reading
West Chester University Poetry Conference
Friday, June 10
8:15 AM
Alice Mizrachi: Growing up in New York, I have been immersed in a culture that is constantly growing. Throughout my work you can feel the influence the city has had on me, the never-ending desire to grow and flow. One common thread in my work is the texture--rhythm and layers. I love to incorporate tactile surfaces that compel the audience to approach and feel it. Timeless and universal, my images evoke a raw feminine energy that leaves you feeling nurtured. My art is a vehicle to express to the world my journey as a NYC female artist in the past, present and future. I am logging my time here. After completing a residency in Paris during 2010, I am focusing on residencies in other cities with the intention of spreading my art globally.
32 Poems
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