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                                                            The Literary Review
                                                                      Issue 8

Page 22

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Harpsong. Forbidden.

Needed treacle of weddings and funerals.

Lyrical lessons of musical hedge-schools,

Strummed in secret,

Plucked at the harpist’s peril,

thought Turlough O’Carolan

gripping her mane

and bending his back to the back of the mare,

bumpily trotting the bad roads

beside watery green

boglands and sea lanes and fields of moraine

and peaks that, crowds dropping sheets on,

vanished, to glimmer back into view.

Harpsong. Rain patter.

unfailing as fog, lodged in the rain

out of droplets born.

To the west—the warmth of the sea

drew to itself his crumbling vision:

sealight, viewed via blocks of blur—

minimal, miasmal—

light even a blind man could see,

light genial and diffuse.

Harpsong—the poem-preceding tune come some clamoring after.

Boy!, he shouted to the dimness, ahead, Boy!

(They were late but only a day or so)

late for the feast, but what, so?

Folks would wait a week or more—

Yes, sir?

for they needed him, in a way

as much as the bride. Needed him

as people rarely need a blind man, to begin,

So, he barked, snarkily,

Let them wait. Repeating,

Let them wait!

R. Dickerson__

Jenny Bluet

His mother was southern

Jenny was her name. Jenny Bluet.

She had the bloodlines, the gold

acres of scratchy tobacco—

the ground where she played was radiant;

His papi tumbled in from Charleston.

She grew to love him.

He, too, had a name,

a seedbed and a space-heater.

They called him Harley—

Harley Trefoil Bluet.

Altogether so cool.

  R. Dickerson__



Unaccountably, while I was eating a liverwurst sandwich

(with mustard and cornichon, on rye)

the poem took a dive

off the countertop, I don’t know why,


onto the floor and burst into words

which can be either blunt or sharp, heaven knows.

There was nothing to do

but sweep it up

eat the sandwich and, and…

…put on shoes.

  R. Dickerson__


Now is the time to come,

and the tree, swept clean

of blossoms, hosed

into the gutter, like after-the-wedding

confetti, stands merely green.

But what green!

Overnight, the busy painter, not loath,

(for Nature abhoreth a vacuum)

tints each leaf with

gold betokening growth.

We shove back brims—

to an ancient song

coin novel words;

marvel how the times return

and returning, move along.

  R. Dickerson__


Old Photo

Like a land-locked sea, slowly drying up

from the edges in, till just

a splash of its former self—your long-dead relations

the island survivors you knew them—

this old photo, gnawed by light, fades away.

Here, in pearls, is your lovely mother

in spats, your matinee idol father.

Here, your aunt, before spinsterhood set in,

posing primly before the prom.

And, my God, the furniture!

It has everything to do with the light:

the fingers of the light rub the borders of the lake

like Time. And chemistry, that we must also say

without quite knowing why.

Anyhow, it fades.

inevitably, for hide it,

hang it in the dark or otherwise

dilute the light, it still

slides in like a tide, a drop-off, reaching

in a century or so, their knees.

  R. Dickerson__