Author Archives: Marla F


A mind’s-length plot with thought was sown
in secrecy, but it has grown

Exotic spices, with strange faces
From having looked on distant places.
Gum Arabic, from the veins
Of noonday genii in heat-drunk lands
Or the hard-to-come-by foot
Of white-centred anise-root.
Baskets crammed with saffron wands—
Nutmegs jostle, hearty oaves,
Embarrassing the comely cloves—
From far lands they bear away
Coriander, caraway.

Names whose iteration bear
Parceled gusts of foreign air
Subtleties but half revealed
To the importuning field—
As within a woman’s mind
Broods one half of humankind.


A girl sits on a balcony; above her head,
Which, tilted, loosens a flood of hair,
Which she, conscious, has spilled unconsciously
From out of her mother’s grave, a small bird sits,
And closing its eyes from heat or ecstasy,
Literally climbs to heaven on her own voice.

Down below, flowerpots line the balcony
And wait to be wet so they can be dry again;
Lower down, gods walk in the streets,
Appear, are lost, and attract the attention
Of the girl, who is quite unconscious of the bird,
Having fed it, and besides, is Greek, and young, and fond of men.

This is how I remember it—with the sun not dancing,
Not playing hide-and-seek with the clouds, but pouring
Its light out down into the souls of men,
Which rose, and looked at one another, and said
“This is good; let there be light.” Which brings us round
To theology again, with the bird singing its eyes out
Over the girl sitting on the balcony above
The cool interior courtyard, and below, the men.


Purple Yawn

Upon a time prison bars
Went clank! Together—a hundred stars
Alarmed, lifted to sail in flight
Tilting toward more distant coils of night
To regroup noiselessly in braids of light.
Well, all the rest were gone, but I
With perseverance
And uncommon skill in one so young
Held in my hand
A phosphorescent firefly.

The evening was growing in a purple yawn.
The bats had other business
So the lawn
Had darkened faster than I thought
The time allowed—Perhaps I ought
To be inside away from all this strangeness
When lo!
The indignant glow
Wrestling in earnest enmity against its jailer
Reminded me of what I had brought plummeting
Down from where the winds are delicate scarves
That are half jewel and song half
And that didn’t want to come
Getting along nicely just a flicker above the grass tops.

How does one dare
To pinion the wings of thought?
So I was confronted
With my hand again
The sharp points of the star scalding my hand
And sticking out through my fingers
Disturbed me. There were no more constellations
Diving between the knees of the apple tree.
I let the firefly go and went inside
And I think the stars returned.


Neanderthals were awful knaves
That had their domiciles in caves
And slew their prey with barrel-staves
To gulp it red and raw
They most resented rude intrusion
By big bears with malocclusion
And not a few effected fusion
With the ursine chaw.

Howe’er this state of things, I ween
Thought rather rugged, harsh and mean
Prevailed throughout the Pliestocene
And one can only muse
That ‘twas through this did fate contrive
Their end—there’s not a one alive,
But only broken bones survive
As Neolithic clues.

Nonsense Verses For My Children

When the frost is on the pumpkin
and in blossom’s the pawpaw,
Then a mighty herd of yoghurt comes
thundering through the draw,
And all the birds in cages get out
their aerosol
To spray the passing yoghurt, and
catch them as they fall.

When the clams are wet with ardor,
and all card-carrying krill
Dance at their union gala in
tuxedoes, as they will,
On vacation hard-worked pinnipeds
try their best to get away,
And the whales come up like
thunder on the trams to Baffin Bay.

When the schools are closed forever
and education’s rife,
Then you, my child, my soul, I hope,
will graduate to life;
When the gloaming gleams with
wonder and awake the day dreams love,
As your father loved Sharonah,
and the hand longs for the glove.




I am a passenger in the shipwreck of time
And a bizarre symptomology
Has alit
Upon my understaffed body
As a vulture on a long awaited meal

And if you think this mode of expression
Rules out poetry, I assent.


And I invite you to supply a wretch
Of your own
With as impressive a salvo of symptoms
To salute the world with
And snatch despair from the imaginary
Jaws of hope
But for me, hope is a defective
In a Stygian darkness

So please all your good pleaders
Roll upward prayers on my

That I might have some remission
Somewhat somehow

And if not, then remember me while
This my poem
Is eminently forgettable
And at this, this work declares
Its end.
August 30, 2009

I’m Happy

“I’m happy,” she says, and means that happiness
Means that she’s married, no more and something less.
Born in the cradle, married out of there,
She chose her husband as she combed her hair.
Ego bred aggression, and aggression spite,
Thus in others humaneness became prerequisite,
And a mask to put on, to force others to don,
While she can take hers off if others keep theirs on.
Her mother programmed her to be clean, to wive,
And keep the world reminded that she was superlative.
The best of everything, the dots on the dotted line,
A self-possessed and persevering Frankenstein.
“But I’m not perfect,” she admits, thus liberating her
To chop the other fellow into hamburger.
Her husband’s personality fled headlong to its lair.
To dominate completely a comfortable chair.
Thus father and mother to her children, she
Provides them with loves in times of adversity;
A kind of three-layer cake, wherein one can infer
That she moulds her children, as her mother her.
Acquaintances are mirrors, emotions a hoard,
And all existence must conform, or be ignored.



It is very honorable to love a woman
In the spring, at midday, in the shade
Of the very long ago, which is only human,
And the weeping willow glade
Very possibly is Eden
In the middle of which transacted a trade
Which reminds us that, when the world began
Woman was contained in the side of man.
To be a snake is not very honorable
And yet he was the go-between.
And all of us, or those who are able
To see the truth instead of the fable,
At the center of it, or whatever I mean,
Has some part of him snake, liable
To tempt and be cursed, and crawl, having done,
Responsible for every mother’s son.

So love, why not, it is a very serious business,
And supports commerce, industry, wars,
Poetry, women, I am told, somewhat less
Than honorable, and leaves not scars
Which can’t be healed by the next generation, or mars
Anyone’s beauty sleep, permanently, and the princess
In the story awoke, and was alive. Now let the song,
Its singer, return to their beginning, end, where they belong.
This poem is reprinted from The Academy of American Poets, University and College Poetry Prizes, 1960-1966


When time and thought conjoin
In the reflecting pool of memory
Quite often there sign to me
The shapes of butterflies I’ve known,
Stamping their abstract signatures
Upon the medallion of the moment,
Piercing the inner eye like a wildflower
And, like it, filling the heart
With an incomprehensible sense
Of perfection
Too all-comprehensive to be borne
Except in silence,
And impossible to reduce to thought.
My niece also
Draws me into her orbit,
Signing the shape
Of years to come
In her continual present,
And my hopes for her
Blend with memories
Too long to promise that I’ll gaze
At length upon her in her glory,
But perhaps my part-time gaze
May sign to her
In some far forgotten future day,
And wink, like a friendly, falling star,
To tell her of my love.


From their buds the roses pop
And the long day slinks
to an end
When will all this come to a stop
This road, this road without a bend.

The curlew calls upon its nest
And I think of the girls I have known
Oh curlew, the one that I loved best
Comes to my mind fully blown.

Cry then, for all past years blend
And the pains of living abate
Not mine to avert what the savage
years send
Though precisely what I await.
June 22, 2014