Wendy Sloan

Where the Poetry Comes From

For My Father

Chrysanthemums of red and yellow lit
your cherry casket; all the brass shone bright
and golden in the soft October light.
We were a somber group assigned to sit
in those front family rows. But when I heard
how every single mourning soul that spoke
remembered most of all a favorite joke
you used to tell--a pun, some kind of word-
play, riddle--I thought then how you knew all
the songs from back before the war, how good
your whistling was, and how you used to hum
the harder lines with me when I was small.
So at the very last I understood
that you are where the poetry comes from.

Jim Morrison's Grave at Pere Lachaise

Ah yes, the French do everything with style
including cemeteries. Stroll now through
their City of the Dead, each avenue
full-lined with moldering sepulchers, each aisle
a feline haunt where stolid tombs enthrone
green memory's tribute to celebrity,
and pause at his graffiti-encrusted stone,
the tawdry flowers' stench of destiny.

So young, so bright, so earnest--and so dead,
fulfilling maudlin poetry's cliches
of blazing genius. Waking in a daze,
she found you in the bathtub past desire,
past pain, past madness--and the poet, fled.
Death stilled a hand that dared to seize the fire.

To Ray, After the Bell

". . . Do your best,
my nightmare snickers, What the hell--
you've got some time before the bell.

     from Ray Pospisil's "Exam Today"

Where will we get our kicks now that you're gone?
Who else will stalk the stage, cat on the prowl,
and wrestle down a nightmare, cheek to jowl
with those dark thoughts determined to descend
to haunt our dreams? Who else could carry on
through that prolonged Hamlet soliloquy
knowing it all by heart, delivery
fine-tuned to catch, in every tone and pace,
the sharpest anguish poetry can trace?

The price, some say, of living on the edge
of art is often death, a poet's fate.
And yet, I am unable to pretend
your death held something noble, or to hedge
against regret for help that came too late.


Wendy Sloan is an attorney living in New York City. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Iambs & Trochees, Measure and Blue Unicorn. She was a finalist in the 2006 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award Competition.


Sarah Busse
Barbara Crooker
Jehanne Dubrow
Annie Finch
Ann Fisher-Wirth
Dolores Hayden
Melanie Houle
Michele Leavitt
Diane Lockward
Charlotte Mandel
Ann Michael
Tatyana Mishel
Jennifer Reeser
Wendy Sloan
Diane Arnson Svarlien
Marilyn Taylor
Kathrine Varnes
Terri Witek
Marly Youmans

Marion Belanger: My current project, Continental Drift: Iceland/California, is structured around the geologic boundary that forms the edge of the North Atlantic Continental Plate. I was particularly interested in the fact that this geological boundary has no political allegiance, was not determined by wars, by financial interest, or national demarcation. It is a boundary that cannot be controlled or contained by human intervention.
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