Barbara Lydecker Crane

Begging: the Question

Fez, Morocco

So much begging…I think, can’t this be fixed?
as one scruffy young girl tugs my shirttail lightly
with Please, madam in a low, studied voice. I nix
her request, shaking my head and smiling slightly.

That scruffy young girl tugs my shirttail lightly
again. Is she here every day, no school? A waste.
I shake my head no and walk on, smiling tightly.
I glance down at the girl, dazed and sad-faced.

I bet she does this every day. That’s such a waste.
She tugs again, again, yet again: Please, madam.
I glare at this girl who looks dazed and sad-faced—
No, I said, NO! I scold, instantly sorry I hadn’t

the tug at my heart to respond to Please, madam.
Berating a beggar—should that be a tourist’s role?
No, I tell myself. The next instant, a sight I hadn’t
seen before: a skeleton of man at a begging bowl.

Aiding a beggar—should that be a tourist’s role?
This aged man sits akimbo, his limbs like sticks.
The handful of coins I clink in his empty bowl—
too late for him?—seems to me, regardless, a fix. 

Caving in Slovenia

Postojna Caves, with concrete walkways
built for visitors.

At the mammoth maw of caves,
I hesitate in cold, dank air
that drifts from dark and yawning enclaves.

Inside, I shudder, wonder where
some amorphous beast might dwell,
inching through its age-old lair,

breathing out its primal smell,
luring walkers through its veins,
its mounds and spikes a citadel

of shards—a giant’s dental remains?
Imagination goes to town:
fantastic fangs display the stains

of eons, tan and beige and brown—
stalagmite and stalactite rows,
incisors pointing up and down.

Sporadic colored spotlights throw
black shapes that lurk and stalk and slide,
to trail each manmade light with shadow.

The narrow veins then open wide.
A cavern arches overhead,
so high that I am goggle-eyed—

the Concert Hall. This holds, it’s said,
ten thousand souls at the yearly
choral sing, when voices wed

and swell in vibrant echoes nearly
endless. It’s something I might treasure
hearing someday—but, sincerely,

emergence is my current pleasure.
Out on the grass, I pause to stare
at the horizon, that constant measure

of up and down, of knowing where
I stand and where I might be going,


Barbara Lydecker Crane's fourth collection, You Will Remember Me, 65 ekphrastic sonnets, along with 55 color reproductions, will be published by Able Muse Press.


Jane Blanchard
Barbara Lydecker Crane
Mary Cresswell
Barbara Crooker
Sarah-Jane Crowson
Claudia Gary
Julia Griffin
Mia Schilling Grogan
Kathryn Jacobs
Jen Karetnick
Jean L. Kreiling
Jenna Le
Kathleen McClung
Diane Lee Moomey
Leslie Schultz
Natalie Staples
Kathrine Varnes
Joyce Wilson
Marly Youmans


The latest addition to the Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Database is Rachel Wetzsteon by Patricia Behrens. The Poetry by the Sea Conference is scheduled next year from May 21-24.

Maureen Alsop:I often create visual art as a memorialization to the closure of a written work. However, many of these visual pieces arrived as a trajectory while writing a larger 'work-in-progress.' The text within the visual poems do not speak to the content of the larger work but are autonomous, acting as bridge between the written and visual bodies. The original text draws upon ghosts in the hall of battles. It is a glittering solar analemma, an unattested revolution, an infinity reflected in ellipses, omissions, and disintegration. A full collection representing many of these images came to fruition recently in Tender to Empress (Wet Cement Press). Yet the act of creating from text continues, as the digital collages here also include newer works based on miscellaneous notes, old emails, and most recently a short story, "The Unnamed Woman of Mary River" (forthcoming at South Dakota Review). The title to these are based on cargo ships which I pass on my daily commute from island to mainland. These small cities of people, afloat for weeks on end out at sea, are a looming story that embarks and disembarks in my imagination.

The visual poems are crafted under the mechanics of "Écriture Féminine," literally "women's writing." These principals advance a feminine perspective. I write from parallels, cyclical slips through stream of conscious and fragmentary processes. The writing exists as rough erotic. As talisman. Interpersonal in their ruptures and syntax, soft in their discomforts; a splintered narrative. Through writing, I can go anywhere and never be found.

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