Joanne Grumet


Aunt Fran’s cherry cordial
sits on a shelf away
from bright summer light

The cherry tree is long gone
cut down by storms
and then the saw.

The lilac is gone, as well, where
Fran and Jack were buried
on the cliff,

the wind hollowing
out their place of rest,
setting their ashes adrift.

But memories of summer
persist like wild honeysuckle
on the hill

and for now the cordial
keeps, red and thick
and sweet.


A small lizard lets me watch him
up close; sunning himself

on the porch, his chest pulses.
His needle-fine nails hold on.

He moves when I turn away
and then you are gone

Vivian’s Pot

Meanwhile the slap and thump of palm and thumb
On wet mis-shapenness begins to hum

--John Hollander “ The Mad Potter”

Eros we understand
with our fingers, our palms,
as when we touch
a lover’s silky arms
but Apollo demands
decorum of art:
you must not touch.

A potter even so enjoys
wet mud so much
when as midwife she
slaps the clay to life.

And thereby came into creation
a tall ceramic vase
whose glazed lip chipped
while in my possession,
but whose integrity remains intact.

What pleasure to get flowers
the right length and fullness
for this vase, what pleasure later,
while putting the piece away,
to trace where the potter ‘s hands
have smoothed the porous slab of clay.

About the Author

I have loved language all my life, from the silly names my father made up to amuse me when I was a child to the dictionaries I read through adolescence as my favorite books.

I was fortunate enough to study Linguistics in college and university and found work as a lexicographer and a teacher; in fact I still teach Writing to non-native students at the City University of New York.

At some point, not too too long ago, I reached a crisis in my life and found I needed to use language, not just study it, to express some deep *s..t*. I discovered poetry and songwriting.

At this point, my poetry has appeared in BIGCITYLIT.COM., JEWISH WOMEN’S LITERARY ANNUAL, POETRY QUARTERLY, and THE SAME. A poem is also in the archives of the Brooklyn Museum. My songs have twice been featured on the cable tv show, THE SONG, out of South Deerfield, Mass.

My favorite thing to do is walk in the woods of the northern Catskills.

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