Marly Youmans (Featured Poet)

Dream Procession

A stripling-sapling spired up from my arms,
Weighty and gold and intricately formed
Into a graceful bare-limbed canopy.

The boughs were hung with gems and jeweled charms
On the most delicate gold chains—light swarmed
Around the branching head in alchemy

That changed no lead to living gold but me…
I held the spar of loveliness up high,
One hand above the other, steadying

The bole; my body swayed below the tree,
And I was made a thing to mystify
Myself. So I moved forward, readying

The branch to stand beside a glowing throne
Before the steps and sacrificial stone.

Annus Mirabilis

That was the year we knew the aliens
Had come and gone, so small we could not see…
We found their larvae on our wools and silk
Like maggots of our moths but luminous
In dark, and singing faintly as they turned.
At night they were like stars in spiderwebs
Sparkling from our cedar chests and cupboards.
We let them be, and shut our closet doors
For good—for good or ill, we didn't know.
One morning all the air was overcast
By fine-spun, lustrous nets that marred the sky,
And when the dawn arrived, it made a sound
Of tympani, and something crystalline
Like shells that held the music of the spheres
Shattered, notes raining from a grass-green sun.

The Village in April

The yellow road-machines that came to slice
And lift away the palisades of snow
And cart them to the crystal dump? They've gone.

Snowdrops and aconite bloomed under ice,
More brave than any creature in the world—
Who knew that flowers were so resolute?

The twilights lack the lapping of deep blue
Shadows on snow sparkling under lampposts.
We could miss blue were winter not so long.

Could miss the rarity of northern lights,
Or ropey icicles that bar the door,
Or ferns and flowers etching windowpanes.

One year, the snows were a nine-months miracle;
That year we saw Snow Woman bound spring-heeled
On Glimmerglass. The lake's ice surface twanged.

Her skin was green and rose from cold, her eyes
Like marbles thrown into a fire, then cooled,
Her words the winds that whistle in a cave.

The Statue in the Crypt

The figure's head was shapely, cast in gold
Above the silver of the chest and arms.
Its belly and its thighs were formed from brass.
The calves and knees were forged from iron bars,
The feet were also iron, mingled with clay.

Our guide said that the saints are made from gold;
They yield to death without a show of arms.
The rest of us, he said, are sounding brass,
Shivered cymbal—the rood screen's iron bars
Divide the altar's ore from mortal clay.

I shut my eyes, imagined being gold,
Light flickering along my brow and arms:
What impudence, I mused, what downright brass!
We tipped the man and headed out to bars
To wet our throats of parched and brittle clay.

Saint in the Green

The saint is walking in the orchard trees,
Reading the language of the universe;
Another day she will be held, knifed, shot,
Bound to a wheel, sprayed with acid, devoured.
But now the broody heaven's air is breath,
And limbs are weight, are flesh like Adam's clay.
She is married, spirit-breath to earth-flesh.
She wanders, reading messages in the rocks
And trees: as, what it means to long endure,
What it means to reach up with her branches,
What it means to sink with root and rootlet,
What it means to bud, to flower and fruit—
What it means to be earth, to be a stone
Ground into grit, into the motes that fly.

The Green-up

Relentless rain all day is casting down its tiny crowns
Into the gutter streamlets, into grassy lakes
Of half-abandoned villages and ruined Northern towns
So lately beaten, buried by nigh-weightless flakes.

Though someone from afar is always staring from the panes
And contemplating life as like a flow of rain
That drops in diadems until it whirls down village drains,
All rule and richness lost in water's rush to wane,

By evening, impetuous and emerald, the ground
Breaks forth in grass and weeds and tender, drooping leaves,
As if to say drowned worlds are where a resurrection's found
And crowned for one who waits out winter, still believes.

The Jealous Monk

Our monastery, famed for wine and jars
And flower honey from the upland fields
Was also home to him they call a saint—
I knew him well and thought him no such thing!
This bowl was his, thrown at the pottery
And painted afterward with colored slip
And glazed: the shadings subtle, I grant you,
But nothing more than other men might do:
No better than my own that sits beside.
Likewise his wines were no more sweet and sharp
Than those of other monks, and his honey
Was simply honey, collected from the bees:
A bee is closer to sainthood than he!
Incising on the bowl meant waterfalls
Of spirit—so he said, as if he felt
A force another brother could not find.
The sickly came to touch his hand or robe
Or catch some minor wisdom from his lips.
He died like other men, subject to ills
Of flesh and spirit, shriven just like them;
I barely now remember how he passed,
And if not for deluded souls who wish
To see the garden with the bench and skeps,
The pottery, the cell with bed and lamp,
I'd hardly think to summon up his name.


Marly Youmans is a poet and novelist, author of five books of poetry and nine novels. This month marks publication of a collection of formal poems centered on the figures of the mysterious Red King, the metamorphosing Fool, and the ethereal Precious Wentletrap: The Book of the Red King from Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal. Other recent poetry books are the epic adventure in blank verse, Thaliad, and the collections The Foliate Head and The Throne of Psyche. Her most recent novels are Maze of Blood, Glimmerglass, and A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage; a novel set in the 1690's Massachusetts Bay Colony, Charis in the World of Wonders, is forthcoming in 2020. John Wilson, longtime editor of Books & Culture, writes that "Youmans (pronounced like "yeoman" with an "s" added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. She writes like an angel—an angel who has learned what it is to be human." A Southerner astray in snowy upstate New York, she has lived for the past two decades within sight of Kingfisher Tower and the lake James Fenimore Cooper called Glimmerglass.


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Marly Youmans (Featured Poet)


The most recent addition to The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline is Aemilia Lanyer by Maryann Corbett.

Kathleen McClung was the recipient of the 2019 Mezzo Cammin Scholarship to the Poetry by the Sea conference.

Rounded in deep compassion for the human experience across borders, Mizrachi explores both the spiritual and physical dimensions of being human, and in particular, female. Often times, the female figure in various mythical iterations intersects with earthbound feminine forms as a means to communicate and transmit social consciousness. Mizrachi’s intentions include the empowerment of self and others through artistic expression, as well as advocacy for women, youth, and the environment. Family, community, and tribe are also recurring themes and are approached as active spaces of shared engagement. In recent years, Mizrachi’s studio practice has developed into a testing ground for explorations in assemblage, sculpture, and installation that has transformed both her painting practice and decades of work as a muralist. Moving beyond paint, her small scale pieces have become sculptural drawings and her murals have become outdoor wall installations. Both styles of work have taken on new life as three dimensional geometric forms.

32 Poems
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