Jeanne Murray Walker

Everywhere You Look You See Lilacs

and better yet
                        just blossoming in woozy
pink and white, smell the peonies
that will cast off their clothes like floozies
soon. Ponder the indolent fat bees
like tiny blimps that hover over them,
perfectly content with where they are
this morning. Nothing’s missing in the flame  
of this slow day. Sun through Douglas fir  
cascading now, the earth complete and here:
once, currently, forever. How not traveling,
we’ve still traveled everywhere. How far 
it’s possible to go without unraveling 
maps or charts. To get there with no drive,

no fear, not even any hunger to arrive.

Song of the Street
Play is the exultation of the possible.
                    Martin Buber 
Praise the babble that rises to my ears

like morning song, the fragrant bling that floats
around me as I amble to my car
in the Big Apple, slang so young it gloats
and wants to slap me five as I breeze by.
Unstandard diction, discombobulated
syntax. Improv. The shy-wild joy cry
of the young who love their bodies, the elated

cries of hopscotch, double dutch, stick ball—
English roaring, shattering cliché,
sprung from the school room. I wave and call 

to them as English stretches, bounds into a day
of crazy climbing sun.
                                     This moment you’re all quirk
and shine and possibility, New York.

Rock: A Found Sonnet

Bad rock band, you bend your boomerang  
around my ear,
                         you nail me.  
                                              I admit it.

Your voice, baby, baby, skids and clangs
as if the ripping devil swiveled it,
himself, from primal hell. 
                                          That pleading,
feral, skidding caterwaul! 
                                         Oh, don’t you
just anger up a whole town of needing
voices in one body—from wahoo
to Wittgenstein? 
                           Not one ping you jive on  
is squelched.   
                     All holler, hootenanny, flexing
to the glory of a shriek. 
                                               Live on     
as long as Bach. 
                           Croon us through perplexing
silences of midnight. Rock us, bless
us.  Be tenacious. Blast us.  

Philadelphia: Walking to Work
on the First Day of Spring

Bright sun.  The breeze on my arms.  On his leash

a white poodle strolling like a plume

of breath in winter, leading his person: their swish

of joy.    
           Oh, finally to get out! The bloom,

the yes, my re-waking body.   
                                              Until the bus
burps smoke. And then above, a wrecking ball

hammers a storefront open like a dollhouse,

its tremors traveling up my spine.  
                                                       The Hell!

a guy yells, weaving between the bleat 

of outraged car horns 
                                   and suddenly I’m filling

up with blare and clamor
                                          Then across the street 

I see her, walking, silent, alert, willing

herself to be here, smiling.  
                                            I watch her pass, a quiet 

shining from her face and quiet rising from her habit.

Rummaging through Language to Find a Sonnet

Oh, blear of morning, all fuzzy till I stumble on your name, Thursday, 

possibly the last beloved Thursday I will wake to as if for the first

time in a dawn so young, unbearably sweet-tempered, shining

golden on green fields of corn, the ache of morning sprawling

across the barn and pasture as I rise with dumbfounded joy,

bright Thursday running through me as rain pours through a downspout

and spills away forever. How can I save you, morning? 

The two of us inseparable. I want to keep your je ne sais quoi,

this precious, never-to-be-precisely-reiterated brightness,

want to find some humble but sturdy cup, some strong bowl

of words to hold you, Thursday: 
                                                     Look how lightness
drops from the womb of night like a white foal,

this sudden morning, juddering to unbend,

breathing new air, gathering herself to stand. 


Jeanne Murray Walker is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently, Helping the Morning: New and Selected Poems (WordFarm Press, 2014). Her poetry and essays have appeared in several hundred journals, including Poetry, Image, The Atlantic Monthly, The American Poetry Review, and Best American Poetry. Her plays have been produced by theatres across the US and in London. She is the recipient many fellowships, as well as 16 nominations for The Pushcart Prize. Jeanne serves as a Mentor in the Seattle Pacific University low residency MFA Program and travels widely to give readings and run workshops.



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