From the Archives: Two Poems on the Moon

July 27, 2012

If you haven’t read Lisa Russ Spaar’s recent article on moon-driven poems, I highly recommend it.You can find the piece here at the online home of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The comments she makes about her favorite lunar verse have had me thinking about some of my own nominations for best moon-inspired poems, particularly those from the pages of 32 Poems. Here’s a pair from our Spring 2008 issue (6.1):  Ralph Black’s “One Bridge, One Whiskey, One Moon” and Kathi Morrison-Taylor’s “Apology for the Moon in a Poem.”

One Bridge, One Whiskey, One Moon
                       for J.L.

And two men leaning
       on the riveted steel,
               paying no attention

to the moon, the same one,
       they know well enough,
               that took poor Li Po

by the hand, and led him
       that summer night deep
               into his river’s delirious curl.

Two men, as the songs
       will have it, tipping
               plastic cups of whiskey,

talking, as poets do,
       the diddle-dee-dee of poems:
               the canal’s slurred cadence,

the darkened calligraphy
       of the town. No one hears
               what their words ignite.

No one sees the tiny bells
       of smoke purling away
               from their mouths.

And as they talk, the moon drops
       over and over into the current,
               shattering, as moons do,

a thousand years of poems.

Ralph Black’s poems can be found in Massachusetts Review, Lyric, and West Branch. He lives in Rochester, NY, and teaches at SUNY Brockport.

Apology for the Moon in a Poem

Embarrassed, the poet notes the moon
made four appearances in her poem, sorry.

So sorry is she for putting in four moons,
she says it again, sorry.

And with her sorries the moon swells
fuller than four, a full that makes an audience

blush and wish they hadn’t noticed.
Since she had that dream of walking

through the mall naked, she hasn’t felt
as awkward as this apology morphing

into pregnant pause, phasing,
not fading, as a pale orb rises at reading’s end,

touching her audience, stomachs waxing,
round with moon cake and words.

As the rabbit in her moon thrashes,
she’s left cringing. Let a cloud pass over her face.

She will save her howling for later.

Kathi Morrison-Taylor’s first book, A Child of the Original Tree, was published by Word Works in 2008. Her work has appeared in New York Quarterly, Seattle Review, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly.

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