Marly Youmans

Spring in Fall

World new-washed with a raindrop on the tip
Of every yellow leaf, strung and hung
For miles into the distance . . . all dew and new,
And I feeling at once the same, unnamed,
Fresh, feeling the reeling world go round
Till I'm like the pivot of a carousel, like
The flower-centered roundabout--bright shout!--
Seen from above, like a top that will not
Wobble and stop . . . What right mine, what reason
On a day when yellow is threshed and falls
To feel so full of springly, kingly joy?
I laugh, whatever reason or unreason--
The whole razzle and raft of morning world
Flying round me, the gold- and red-leafed day
Wheeling swiftly toward the coming night
With its dying-deep but dazzling darkness.


In glittering clouds of snow the Red King sits
And meditates, and the word LOVE is all
His mantra: L's the scoop that hurls his thoughts
Away, until there's nothing but the cloud
Of glinting snow--nothing, an O, zero
In a mind that flung its arrow point V
Through star flakes to the great back-of-beyond.
His eyes are fixed on endlessness, though E,
Turned sideways, says the snow is falling, combed
Around him in a cloud of brightening
He does not see . . . The Red King's Fool, whirling
In the twilit garden, kicks up fountains
Of stars and dreams of spring's barbarians
Spiring up with spears like harsh-stemmed bracken.
If victory or loss, he must, he will
Hew close to what is right, and brave the cost,
And so he laughs and tells a tale to cheer
The gentles of the court: "Why be dismayed?"
His Gawain asks, "for man must try his doom,
Fair or drear, and put good face upon it."

The Bloodroot Fool

And nectarless,
Blown from another world,
Madonna leaf embracing child
Of budded stalk . . . The alchemist is bent,
Displaying to the Fool the orange-red of sap,
The yellow anthers bright against the snow, and snow
Of a circlet of petals--blood juice, yellow stamens, white disk--
Bloodroot that often blooms so early no bees hum
Around its single leaf, no insects crawl,
And only a ghost of wind can help
To lift the pollen grains
Toward stigma
And fruit.

The Fool
Is wonder-struck
To see the drops of blood
That stain the snow, the white petals,
Imagining how from blackness of earth
This alchemy springs forth--the petal-snow, the sun
Of stamens, red of blood now gathered in a jar to heal
The soreness and disease of flesh, to bring slumber,
Or else to dye white wool to bloodroot red,
This little bloom in which the sun
Steadies in a ringlet of gold:
Seeming kin to himself,
Risen from dark
To shine.

The Sheaf of Wheat

Subtle, suffused light in the sheaf of grain
Is pale gold that's almost silver,
Like, in a certain leaning light, the rain,
Slender arrows from a quiver

Of cloud: the reign of light is piercing, sharp,
And I am a Saint Sebastian,
A pincushion, a hedgehog, or a harp
Of many strings--belated bastion

Of love and golden fire. The pavement says
Exultemus in nomine. . .
The stained glass window catches at the rays
Of light, and all is comedy,

Play with happy endings, bright upwelling
Worlds away from getting, selling.

Little Epithalamium

As soul and body join,
As God was born in flesh,
As Psyche married Love,

As hand goes into glove,
As warp and woof are mesh,
As head plus tail is coin,

I wish you joy.

As trees embrace the sky,
As dancers whirl as one,
As tears echo the sea,

As mirror gives back me,
As rivers yield the sun,
As orb and lid are eye,

I wish you joy.

Great Work of Time
The Alchemist to the Fool

This you must know:
the world is a bright glass,
Reflecting all the universe
as a knob
Of polished silver grasps
and reflects in small
The features of a room.
Know this also,
That out from nature's heart comes
wonder, sign,
And message.
So ritual and angel
Speak to us and cross
a threshold's sill,
So the great work transmutes
the willing soul,
So the sun
renews in middle-winter. . .


In 2012, Marly Youmans published three books: a novel, A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (Mercer University Press--The Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction); a collection of poems, The Foliate Head (UK: Stanza Press); and a post-apocalyptic epic in blank verse, Thaliad (Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing.) She also served as a judge on the National Book Award panel for young people's literature. Forthcoming are two novels, Glimmerglass and Maze of Blood, as well as a reprint of her 1996 novel, Catherwood. Earlier work in Mezzo Cammin: 2012.1, 2011.2, 2011.1, 2010.2, 2010.1, 2009.2, 2009.1, 2008.2, 2008.1, & 2007.1.


Diann Blakely
Terese Coe
Enda Coyle-Greene
Erica Dawson (Featured Poet)
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Terry Godbey
Tracey Gratch
Athena Kildegaard
Diane Lockward
Mary McLean
Mary Meriam
Jennifer Reeser
Susan Spear
Myrna Stone
Doris Watts
Gail White
Marly Youmans

Mezzo Cammin is proud to announce the third anniversary of The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project, which will be celebrated on Thursday, March 21, from 6:00-9:00 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, as part of its PAFA After Dark series and in affiliation with its exhibition The Female Gaze. Featured readers will include Rachel Hadas, Marilyn Nelson, and Sonia Sanchez. Also performing will be singer Suzzette Ortiz and poets from the Philadelphia Youth Movement. The event is open to the public.
Jean Shin: Much of my work is site-specific, establishing a dialogue with not only architecture and outdoor spaces, but also the communities that inhabit and activate them. By reinserting used, familiar materials back into the public realm, I invite a large, diverse audience to bring their own histories to the work. Through these encounters each installation forms its own imagined community, revealing new associations and meanings for ephemera, and speaking to our shared experiences.
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