Claudia Gary

The Muse's Burden

for a young poet

How could she be a muse and still a woman--
your muse, and still your woman? If her eyes
held galaxies, had she evolved from human
into a being none would recognize?
Had she escaped the bounds of atmosphere
and gravity, simply because your love
was weightless, breathless? She was justly dear:
Her glowing face, mind, heart could surely move
the stars to waver. Meteors assembled
to form her hair; her lips were lava streams;
her fingers, toes...whatever they resembled,
her beauty was replete, and yet it seems
love was too burdensome to reenact.
In losing her now, you have grown intact.

Father's Gifts

I. Sixth Sense
Dad is the one you trust, the one with whom
your golden bond endures across an ocean.
You feel as if he's just in the next room
in case you need to settle some commotion,
as on the evening you turn twenty-one
in Paris. A wild drive, à grande vitesse,
ends at a nightclub with a zoo--what fun,
though terror almost makes you pee your dress.

Back at the borrowed flat, you think of him
in New York, where it's five hours behind
and therefore still your birthday. On a whim,
you call. He's just walked out, but strange, his mind
says No! Go back! He thinks he's left something
at home, opens the door, hears the phone ring.

II. Voucher
Dad is the one who always said, 'You can
do anything you set your mind to do':
You've wed a Frenchman! When your life began,
his country's troops were losing Dien Bien Phu,
some two decades ago. It's no surprise
Papá speaks British English; here's the Strait
daytrippers cross for souvenirs and fries.
Here, too, on TV, Saigon's desperate state.

But you find unknown colors, unknown calm,
begin to dream in French, and then on waking
learn how to peel potatoes in your palm
and slice them into thin sticks without breaking.
Your life can sizzle now. Or, to unlock it,
here's Dad's return-flight voucher in your pocket.


Claudia Gary writes, edits, and composes (tonally) near Washington, D.C. Her first full-length poetry collection, Humor Me, was published in 2006 by David Robert Books; a second is in progress. Her 2013 chapbook is Bikini Buyer's Remorse. Gary's poems recently have been, or soon will be, published in First Things, American Arts Quarterly, Amsterdam Quarterly, String Poet, Trinacria, Lucid Rhythms, Light Magazine, Poet Lore, and elsewhere; her articles on health appear in The VVA Veteran and other magazines. See www.claudiagary.com.


Liz Ahl
Shaune Bornholdt
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Claudia Gary
Carrie Jerrell (Featured Poet)
Ann Kolakowski
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Barbara Loots
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>Mezzo Cammin featured in VIDA: Women in Literary Arts

>Mezzo Cammin featured on the blog of The Best American Poetry

>The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project Turns 50--with Emily Dickinson

>The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project at Lincoln Center, Friday, April 11th, 7-9 PM. Rhina Espaillat, Angela O'Donnell, Erica Dawson, Maryann Corbett, and others.

Author Erica Jong
Marion Ettlinger: I was raised in Queens, New York, the daughter of German-Jewish immigrants. I was educated at The High School of Music & Art and The Cooper Union, both in Manhattan. Shortly after graduation, I moved to Northern Vermont, where I lived for seventeen years. Although I have been practicing portraiture since the Sixties, it was in the early Eighties that I found my true vocation in photographing poets and writers, who as subjects remain compelling and irresistible to me still. Using only natural light and black and white film, I continue this work based in Manhattan.
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

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