Marianne Szlyk (USA)

Marianne Szlyk (USA)

Marianne Szlyk’s poems have appeared in of/with, bird’s thumb, Cactifur, Mad Swirl, Setu, Solidago, Ramingo’s Porch, Bourgeon, Bradlaugh’s Finger, the Loch Raven Review, Epiphanies and Late Realizations of Love, and Resurrection of a Sunflower, an anthology of work responding to Vincent Van Gogh’s art. Her full-length book, On the Other Side of the Window, is now available from Pski’s Porch and Amazon. She also edits the blog-zine The Song Is…, a summer-only publication:


This Morning, Facing West

Last night’s road corkscrewed here,
taking her in every
direction. This morning
facing west, she sits still
on the second-floor porch.
There is more to see now.
The wash of clouds could be
spindrift on a far shore.
A house’s odd angles
unfold. Trees she should know
stand there, blocking her view.
She squints to recall what
they are but knows only
the maple at her side.
Last bumblebees hover
over unnamed flowers,
unnamed vines. Bright green scent
climbs up to her. Orange
lilies wave in slight breeze.


Listening to Haydn’s Morning Symphony at Night

Inside the bright church
you don’t believe
in, flutes and violins
mimic birds
before dawn. Outside

birds are nesting.
Cicadas have taken
their place. We
hear their chirps and beeps
throughout the night.

Gleaming harpsichord cleans
them up, makes
them musical, blends
them with flute and
violin’s replica

of birdsong.
A cello copies
other bugs’ drones,
sound of August nights, of
windows shut

tight against humid
darkness. At last
we imagine streetlight
through stained glass
as Sunday’s daybreak.


After Aquarela

In the pink of midnight, glaciers calve.
Once stone, once mountains,
dwarfing everything human
on this enormous island,

they shatter, turn to ground glass
to sand to salt to vapor
above the warming waters.

Their debris will not last.
In the water, it will not travel
as far as birds or plastic,
not even as far as the boat that sails past.


New Hampshire 1975

There weren’t waves to surf
at the lake, but we
made it our ocean. Trees
claimed edges of the beach,
the way palms did on
Gilligan’s Island, though pinecones
didn’t knock you out like coconuts
really would. Mom said they
might even kill you, smash
you flat.

We imagined the Minnow landing,
away from our little TV
that pulled in one channel,
even with Dad hitting it
and fiddling with the hanger.
Gilligan would make our beach
more fun, not like older
brothers who sailed off or
chased girls or slept late.

At the end of August,
we could all drive down
together where a lake
is a lake, a TV
show is in color, and
tabloids show actors older,
more foolish, sun struck
In LA, Mom said.


Words and Numbers

Once we lived in a world
made of words, with alphabetized streets
and yellowed British novels bought used
with others’ notes in the margins.
I walked past houses, knowing that
these readers had lived there once.
They might still live there now.

Now numbers fall like green rain
on almost-black screens. Eyes willed shut,
I listen to chimes that remind me of
walking past tall bamboo, wind ruffling
through pines, scent spicing warm days,
clear water flowing, the forest we
think of, where we go to
escape the numbers’ steady downpour.

I think of the Mackenzie River’s
soapy waters, dawdling past exposed roots
of towering trees, the moss-covered Oregon
everyone else imagines, the one afternoon
we spent there.

I remember the bus home, reading
yet another novel as we slunk
past boxy houses and strip malls
to the city of used bookstores,
city I think of whenever
I think about Oregon.

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