Marly Youmans

In All Her Gleaming Youth, She Said

Dearest Mother, will you blame me
Because I could not stay?
And will you rail so bitterly
When all the world is May?

Last night I stood beside the door
And looked my fill of you--
Until the overflowing store
Seemed images of rue.

And yet I could not leave his side
As light and leaf unfurled.
I am the Forest‘s promised bride--
We green the springing world.

Puck in Spring

Now the catamount will scream,
Now the bears awake from dream
That the winter‘s night prolongs
Till the ice dissolves in songs.
Now the daybreak fires the mist
By the mountain ridges kissed.
While the crocus blossoms yield,
Opening along the field.
Now it is the hour in spring
When the jetting sap will bring
Fresh desire to boy and girl
Waking to a brighter world.
And the fairies hunting shade,
Finding meadow grass arrayed
With the bloom of early bells,
Creep inside the fragrant cells.
Now in clearing, vale, and slope,
All the land is drunk with hope--
In the ancient greening weald,
Now is loosed what once was sealed.
Why, the very mountains reel
At the turning of the wheel.

          for Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Snow White in Wildwood

Certain things were given to me:
Such loveliness as swords possess,
Humility as hushed as snow,
Kindness branching red in my veins,
The love of wildwood animals.

I learned early I was a fool
And worthless. Still, I dare to lodge
Certain protests against brokenness,
Certain protests against heart's maiming,
Certain protests against death's hour.

The mirror made such promises!
Was it godly, was it devilish?
A scabbard waiting to be filled,
The seven little fairy men,
A face like snow that sleeps in glass.

Not one of them came true, and now
I kneel forsaken on the ground,
In turn reproaching Christ and men,
So close to perishing that I
Dream lanterns and my mother‘s face.

The Kingdom of God is next to me.
That‘s what the holy father said.
It is closer. Death is a seed
Gripped in my hand. I never thought
To know such wildwoods of despair.

What good has all my kindness done
That stood in the hall like a red branch?
What use was beauty‘s melting snow?
Must I forgive this naked life
Of thorns, the sweat kissing my brow?

Stones in the Wilderness

One was already there, all rough
To feel and pitted, slashed
By a wedge of smoother rock that must
Have been upthrust and dashed

Into the first before the world
Was writ in hardened stones.
A second one I heaved onto
The first; I paid in groans

And sweat to lay it there but left
It so to judge the place
Where I, battered by word, raised arms
Against a burning face.

Mirror Tree, Tree Mirror

The branch that fires the bloom,
The twigs that trap the moon,
The rind that jails the core,
The cells that drink the air,
The bole that lifts the sky,
The hole that shades the hive,
The knot that tugs the grain,
The scar that seals the pain,
The gall that mars the skin,
The leaf that eats the sun.

The sun that eats the leaf,
The skin that mars the gall,
The pain that seals the scar,
The grain that tugs the knot,
The hive that shades the hole,
The sky that lifts the bole,
The air that drinks the cells,
The core that jails the rind,
The moon that traps the twigs,
The bloom that fires the branch.

Blurbs of the Poets, no. 1

"She is a poet to live with."
          --Robert Hass on Wislawa Szymborska

O former poet laureate: Indeed.
We cannot help ourselves, she is so dear.
If we would like to take a bath, she is
Obliging, dons a mermaid tail and shells
To scrub our backsides, wash and comb our hair.
And when we mow the lawn or blow the snow,
She'll run behind to catch the spray of flakes
In silver bowls or tidy up the grass
With rakes of gold and silk collecting bags.
At night she'll stay up late to count our breaths,
Dividing them by three and adding twelve
Until the moonrise ends. She'll penetrate
Our dreams and scatter powder everywhere--
Grandmother's talc will mix with dangerous
Gunpowder grains and crackling fairy dust.


photo courtesy of
Ellen Datlow
Marly Youmans is the author of six books of fiction and a collection of poetry. Her latest novel, Val/Orson, satisfies her long-time desire to write a book set in trees. The story also finds some of its inspiration in the legendary account of twins, Valentine and his "wild child" brother, Orson. It will appear in two limited editions from P. S. Publishing (U. K.) in September, 2008.


Tiel Aisha Ansari
B. J. Buckley
Terese Coe
Carol Dorf
Jehanne Dubrow
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Ona Gritz
Kathryn Jacobs
Allison Joseph
Susan McLean
Marilyn Nelson
Janice D. Soderling
Shanna Powlus Wheeler
Marly Youmans

Jane Sutherland: I choose subjects that I cherish, or that spring from deep rooted feelings, or that come to me intuitively--dogs, roses, cranes, an iconic work of sculpture; and I concentrate on the details and slightest disparities in color, tone and textures in order to show how extraordinary are things we think we know and take for granted. The process of painting for me is connected to the physical properties of the subject as well as to its meanings, associations, and memories.
32 Poems
The Academy of American Poets
The Atlantic
The Christian Science Monitor
The Cortland Review
Favorite Poem Project
The Frost Place
The Iowa Review
Light Quarterly
Modern American Poetry
The Poem Tree
Poetry Daily
Poetry Society of America
Poets House
Raintown Review
String Poet
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Verse Daily
Women's Poetry Listserv
The Yale Review

Bread Loaf
Poetry by the Sea


Barefoot Muse Press
David Robert Books
David R. Godine Press
Graywolf Press
Headmistress Press
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Louisiana State University Press
Northwestern Univ Press
Ohio Univ Press
Persea Books
Red Hen Press
Texas Tech Univ Press
Tupelo Press
Univ of Akron Press
Univ of Arkansas Press
Univ of Illinois Press
Univ of Iowa Press
Waywiser Press
White Violet Press

City Lights
Grolier Poetry Bookshop
Joseph Fox Bookshop
Prairie Lights
Tattered Cover Bookstore

92nd Street Y
Literary Mothers
Poets & Writers