Tag Archives: Ann Taylor

Ann Taylor

Asynchronous                                                                                   

 

Inheriting kingdoms too young, ruling unready

most of Europe, American and Asian colonies,

enduring decades of armor, steeds, banners,

helmets, thrones, victories,

and obsequiousness all around,

 

Charles withdrew to Yuste’s cloister

deep among almond and olive groves,

to a tiny cell with an altar view,

and an orthopedic chair for his exhaustion

and his gout.

 

Someday, when I have leisure, he said, I’m

going to spend time with my clocks.

And so he did – tall clocks, small clocks,

ship-shaped clocks, clocks that measured

the timing of the moon and sun,

traced the wanderings of the planets.

 

His aim was to tinker with toys and tools

and best, to make two clocks strike the same hour

at the same time. They never did.

 

His own time running out,

unable to pace the cloister,

even to stand up, he built a catafalque,

had himself placed in his casket

to witness his own funeral.

 

Well after, death arrived.

 

Revenge

                        Beyond all things is the sea.

Seneca

So his army could pace on obedient waves,

Xerxes strung across the Hellespont

mile-long rope bridges.

But when the sea ripped the ropes to tatters,

the king beheaded the builders,

ordered scourgers to whip, insult

the muddy salty river!

The sea calmed as he lined up

six hundred oared ships and triremes

side by side, a trail of cut timber,

layered it with soil for his floating parade,

then turned his rage on Athens, burned it to ash.

Enthroned on a hilltop to witness

his Salamis triumph, he watched his seamen,

who could not swim, swallowed

by water’s rage, all, again, untethered.

 

At the Moesgard Museum 

Only chapel silence in the bog-dimness,

foot-shuffles, a polite cough.

We crowd on benches ringing

the Grauballe Man’s glass enclosure.

Gently spotlit, he lies stretched out,

off balance, propped on an elbow,

while his smooth hands

and the envelope of his leathery skin

deliver hints of the man he was . . .

Here encased, a victim with plenty of time

to make his case with every witness,

his remains testify to an ancient grievance.

Though he’s two thousand years buried,

it’s all too easy to trace the cruel slice

across his throat, the purposeful gash

from ear-to-ear, suicide impossible.

I feel a contemporary sympathy

as brow ridged, mouth agape, he seems

to mourn his youth cut short, to beg a hearing.

I imagine he’d toss back his thick shock

of red hair, breathe deep. He’d open wide

his encrusted eyes, look about the room,

then swing an elegant finger, like the point

of a compass needle, until it stopped

at his knife-wielding murderer.

He’d force his frozen lips into a smile maybe,

justice so long denied.

____________________________________________________________

Ann Taylor is a Professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. where she teaches both literature and writing courses. She has written two books on college composition, academic and free-lance essays, and a collection of personal essays, Watching Birds: Reflections on the Wing (Ragged Mountain/McGraw Hill). Her first poetry book, The River Within, won first prize in the 2011 Cathlamet Poetry competition at Ravenna Press. Her recent collection, Bound Each to Each, was published by  Finishing Line Press in 2013.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on Ann Taylor

Ann Taylor

 The Oseberg Burial Ship, AD 834 

 

You debate who owned these bones –

which woman the cynosure,

which the acolyte. A queen? Asa?

 

Though crushed, scattered beneath centuries

of stoneweight and earthmound, I know

these two, long sheltered in my ribs.

 

I yielded to carvers’ blades, suffered the sturdy

slam and hammer of builders who bent

and bound my oaken curves together.

 

Bloodied, I heard the oxen protest, shrieks

of horses, trusting whimpers of pet dogs.

I bowed with the weight of women’s luxury.

 

Shaped for the sea, I regret the rocky drag

to earth’s entombment, where robbers pillaged

and now you pick my scattered bones.

 

But recall Jason’s Argo, planked

with Zeus’ prophetic Dodona oak.

Trust the gift of speech.

 

Then will I recall for you the rest

of what once was. My wooden breast

heaves deep to complete my tale.

 

We the Women Inquired After by Villon

 

“Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?”

 

Why do you ask about old snow?

Wonder in what country we may be now?

For we are right here! Listen.

Do you know me, lovely Flora,

who blazed with a courtesan’s passion,

relished my Roman Floralia’s abandon,

bloom still in every garden,  blossom, bouquet?

 

And I’m Archipiada. Some think I am

one with Socrates’ Alcibiades,

most handsome from birth to death,

but transformed by time’s shift in spelling

from a male to a perfect female beauty.

 

Do you seek Thais, Alexander’s beloved,

the one who led him and his inebriated army

to torch Persepolis? Yes, I reduced

to yesteryear the Persian king’s noble palace,

reduced his treasures to ash.

 

And, oh, can you hear me? I am Echo.

Because of my loquacity, I was deprived

of speech except in answering.

In answering, I’m here ringing again

and again over river and pond,

ever ready to respond.

 

Frankly, your foolish question bores me,

for I am wise Héloïse, equal in love and learning

to Abelard, my time’s finest scholar,

my own Pierre, who fathered our child,

suffered so much for our passion.

What has snow to do with our burning?

 

Do you seek Queen Marguerite? I, who bagged

my satiated amours, tossed them afterwards

straight from my tower window into the Seine?

You’ve heard of the scholar Buridan

who took his pleasure with me,

but at his tossing was caught and saved

by his students in a hay boat? I admire

such learning, but he was not the last

of my lovers. (Are you otherwise employed?)

 

And I’m the lily Queen Blanche, mother of Louis IX,

Queen regent. Ruling was my passion. You may approach,

must learn my lovesongs sung in siren’s voice,

surviving centuries.

 

Snows melt away. But we tread the chansons.

I, Bertha Broadfoot, mother of Charlemagne,

I, Beatrix, of royal lineage still contested,

and I, Ermengarde of the Arrows,

heiress of Maine, of Chateau de Loire,

spouse of Jerusalem’s king –

all widely-traveled, widely-sung.

 

And you wonder where exactly I may be?

I, the English Joan, leader of men

far less firey, consumed by French flame,

but never erased, enflamed to life

by history’s narrative, the power of poets.

 

Do not repeat your foolish question, your ubi sunt

equation, rendering us as ephemeral as melted snow.

 

The heat of our incendiary passions

turns blizzards to rivulets,

and we  burn still.

(In his poem, Ballade des dames du temps jadis (Ballade of the Women of Times Past), François Villon (15th century)  repeats the line, Mais où sont les neiges d’antan (translated as, But where are the snows of yesteryear?), comparing these women to the melted snows of times past)

______________________________________________________________

Ann Taylor is a Professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. where she teaches both literature and writing courses. She has written two books on college composition, academic and free-lance essays, and a collection of personal essays, Watching Birds: Reflections on the Wing (Ragged Mountain/McGraw Hill). Her first poetry book, The River Within, won first prize in the 2011 Cathlamet Poetry competition at Ravenna Press. Her recent collection, Bound Each to Each, was published by Finishing Line Press in  2013.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Comments Off on Ann Taylor

The River Within

Written by Ann Taylor

Published by Ravenna Press

Review by Meredith Allard

 

As the executive editor of a literary journal, I read hundreds of submissions a year. Every once in a while, we’re lucky enough to receive work from an author who makes us stand up and take notice. Ann Taylor is one of those authors. Her chapbook The River Within (winner of the inaugural Cathlamet Prize for Poetry from Ravenna Press) has everything I love in poetry. Her language is precise and controlled yet maintains a fluid, musical quality. While her poems are succinct in size, they are large enough in scope to reflect life-truths about matters great and small.

It’s no surprise that I love the historical references in Taylor’s poems. She touches on everything from “Cleopatra’s Conquest” to “Annie Oakley: Peerless Lady Wing-Shot,” and she even introduces us to “Jenny and Charles,” which refers to Charles Darwin and his favorite orangutan at the London Zoo. But while history plays an important role in many of Taylor’s poems, we’re also treated to her thoughts about the natural world, about her family, and about her university students. As a long-time teacher myself, I  related strongly to her poem “Spectral” about how she lives on in the minds of her students as their “reading ghost” long after they’ve finished her class. Most literature teachers hope to have such far-reaching influences on their students. And I must admit to a special attachment to “To Carry on With the Dying” since we chose it for our 10th Anniversary Edition of The Copperfield Review.

The River Within is an excellent example of a talented poet at the top of her game. Whether you love history, mythology, travel, the natural world, or your family, you will find poetry that suits your fancy in The River Within.

________________________________________________________________

Meredith Allard is the Executive Editor of The Copperfield Review.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , | Comments Off on The River Within

Ann Taylor

Gallows Hill, Salem

Today it’s stubble pine,
iced grass whisking
circles in snow drifts,
stag-horn sumac’s
red against white.

A redtail rises
against the darkening sun,
A crow tries to call,
and an early robin clings
to a bare branch, does not . . .
should not . . . sing.

Snow smoothes rough granite
folded over like the scroll
that named them witches
and this the place to damn them –
hints of the hangings’ horror.

The couple excavated on the Mantua Road
lying eye to eye,
knees bent toward one another,
hand resting open
on an unflinching shoulder,
are about to share a kiss.

Not the usual memento mori –
skull on the saint’s desk,
gravestone’s blank-eyed mask,
anatomy class study bones –
they look like lovers.

We are teased to imagine,
even now to grieve –
good teeth, shapely heads,
sturdy spines –
the gravediggers’ care.

(In 2007, archeologists discovered a double burial of a couple in a grave between 5,000 and 6,000 years old, and in a pose never found before.)

Stille Nacht, 1914

Small trees candle the trenches
of No-Man’s Land,
and crude posters promise,
“You no shoot, we no shoot!”

Drawn by “O Christmas Tree” on one side
and “O Tannenbaum,” on the other,
they help one another bury their own,
trade beer for fags,
launch the soccer ball
through unsure goals
staked with muddy helmets,

until the new year
deepens entrenchment,
erases all signs of fraternity,
except for small trees
placed prominently
on the graves of the dead.

________________________________________________________________

Ann Taylor is a Professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. where she teaches writing and literature courses, including Poetry Writing, Writing about Nature, plus English Literature, Arthurian Literature, The Art of the Essay, Modern and Contemporary Poetry, and Poetry Analysis. She has written two books on college composition, academic and free-lance essays, and a collection of personal essays, Watching Birds: Reflections on the Wing (Ragged Mountain/McGraw Hill). She has had poems published or accepted recently in such journals as Arion, Aurorean, Ellipsis, The Dalhousie Review, Appalachia, Del Sol Review, Snowy Egret, and Classical and Modern Literature, and in 2011, she won first place in the Cathlamet Prize sponsored by Ravenna Press, for her poetry book, The River Within. She lives in Woburn, Mass. with her husband, Francis Blessington.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Ann Taylor