POETRY – 3 Poems by Merilyn Jackson


The possible ranks higher than the actual.
—Martin Heidegger

Tout de même
the desideratum of
the golden glove,
the idiocy of my love—
our love, were it to occur—
the song of it echoing across bridges,
between banks of river gorges,
carried along in barges, aloft sine waves,
tunneling through mountains,
plummeting down canyons for millennia,
bruising grasslands
burrowing into all the libraries of the world
forgotten about through the ages,
unearthed by sages to deride and malign
and yet marvel—
marvel at our dasein.

Empty Spaces

It’s in the emptiest of spaces
that I am most with you
and you with me.

That long moment that erases
the memory of
each other’s faces.

The time our voices are forgotten
our touches unbegotten.

There the whispers.
There the shadows.
There the shudders’ final traces.

Where the kisses?
Where the love bites?
Where the hot, stormy embraces?

If only you would come to me
there, in those empty spaces
you would fill the moon
in all its gloomy phases.

You would fill it with silly questions:
Why do women want to be blonde?
I hate Doris Day, don’t you?

You, the fixed, sardonic sign,
inspirer of my fire,
groom your mystique,
defend your lair.
Better Beans and Bacon
in peace.

Because thou art so virtuous
you give rise to my defeat.

The umbra of the moon,
like virga that does not reach
the earth in Arizona,
does not darken radiant Gemini.

For even on twelfth night
she remains pale,
eating your words
like Cakes and Ale.


Poetry is the universal art of the spirit which has become free in itself and which is not tied down for its realization to external sensuous material; instead, it launches out exclusively in the inner space and the inner time of ideas and feelings.

When word does not become flesh
I settle only for your words.
Sparse as they are,
they fill my being if not my belly—
keep me from starving.

No doubt, Shakespeare knew
words are neither white nor black
but loaded, colored—more often—blue.
They don’t come easy and aren’t cheap,
they defy your fascination with that low-brow hack.

If every moment is necessary
your heart is everywhere,
but, like you, shaded grey
unseeable even though
I am purely looking in every way.

Each corner of my house
inhabited by your geist.
Where is the finger, the hip or thigh
where my hand might linger,
warmed from feeling despised and iced?

At the onset of dusk
fly to me and with howl and hoot
swell our beings with lust
till our voices grow hoarse or mute
and you steal off in dawn’s dust.

The rule of life is change,
whether tragedy or farce,
so send me words
however brief,
that I may be content to verse.

Merilyn Jackson has been the Philadelphia Inquirer’s dance critic since 1996 and writes for many publications on dance, theater and literature, especially Eastern European fiction, politics and poetry. Her poetry has been published, most recently, in Andrei Codrescu’s Exquisite Corpse, Poiesis Review #6, Poetry Nook, Arizona State Poetry Society Annual, The Rusty Nail and Broad Street Review. In 2012, she attended poetry workshops at Colgate University and Sarah Lawrence College, working with poets Peter Balakian and Tom Lux.

Featured image by Kenny Ong. See more of his work at flickr.com/kennyong. Prints available upon request.

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