Charles Tarlton

[un piano dans les Alpes]

. . . a scrawny cry from outside

Seemed like a sound in his mind.

                                    Wallace Stevens


What do you get for a boy poet,

if not a lyre made from a turtle shell?

Under the suffocating furred roar

of the world, a whisper, a red whisper

and the pitch of his complaint rose higher

against the silence

and he mouthed his insults, blood curses

softly was all that was required.


Was there meant to be a break

right here? Were we expecting to imagine

the lost, the abandoned thread,

where it might have led? I can barely

hear it, and the longer and deeper

I am getting in here, the fainter grow

the options. It was the image of a boy

poet, what he might have to say. Oh.


What he might have to say; what he

might have to say what he might have

to say, what he might have to say. Just say

something, to keep it going along

(don’t talk that way, don’t talk about

the poem in the poem!) There was a baby

bird or a tortured Jew calling upon God,

I heard it and it was my own cry.

Charles Tarlton is a retired professor who now lives in an old farmhouse cottage in Florence, Massachusetts, with this wife, Ann Knickerbocker, an abstract painter. After living in France and San Francisco, they moved to this suburb of Northampton in 2014. Since 2006 when he started writing full time he has published poetry in such periodicals as Rattle, Ekphrastic Review, and The Journal. He published an e-chapbook of free translations of Neruda’s Macchu Picchu in the 2River series, entitled, “La Vida de Piedra y de Palabra”; an extended historical tanka prose poem about the struggle of the Navajos, entitled, “Five Episodes in the Navajo Degradation,” in Lacuna; and “The Turn of Art,” a poetical and dramatic piece about Picasso and Matisse, in Fiction International.



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