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Maggie Emmett Sep 2016
He perches in the slime, inert,
Bedaubed with iridescent dirt.
The oil upon the puddles dries
To colours like a peacock’s eyes,
And half-submerged tomato-cans
Shine scaly, as leviathans
Oozily crawling through the mud.
The ground is here and there bestud
With lumps of only part-burned coal.
His duty is to glean the whole,
To pick them from the filth, each one,
To hoard them for the hidden sun
Which glows within each fiery core
And waits to be made free once more.
Their sharp and glistening edges cut
His stiffened fingers. Through the ****
Gleam red the wounds which will not shut.
Wet through and shivering he kneels
And digs the slippery coals; like eels
They slide about. His force all spent,
He counts his small accomplishment.
A half-a-dozen clinker-coals
Which still have fire in their souls.
Fire! And in his thought there burns
The topaz fire of votive urns.
He sees it fling from hill to hill,
And still consumed, is burning still.
Higher and higher leaps the flame,
The smoke an ever-shifting frame.
He sees a Spanish Castle old,
With silver steps and paths of gold.
From myrtle bowers comes the plash
Of fountains, and the emerald flash
Of parrots in the orange trees,
Whose blossoms pasture humming bees.
He knows he feeds the urns whose smoke
Bears visions, that his master-******
Is out of dirt and misery
To light the fire of poesy.
He sees the glory, yet he knows
That others cannot see his shows.
To them his smoke is sightless, black,
His votive vessels but a pack
Of old discarded shards, his fire
A peddler’s; still to him the pyre
Is incensed, an enduring goal!
He sighs and grubs another coal.
“The Coal Picker” was published in Sword Blades and Poppy Seed (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1914).
Maggie Emmett Sep 2016
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

From The Complete Poems 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel.
I find this poem so wonderful despite never having mastered its art!
Maggie Emmett Aug 2016
At Vernal equinox, the Sun crosses
over the plane of the Earth’s equator
and equalises the night and the day.
Then will the Emerald Dragon awaken
from his hibernation beneath the earth.
Rising in the jade forests of Ghizhou,
this yin creature transforms the cold, dead land.
Primal and powerful, he gathers the Qi;
melts the mountain snows to ribbons of fire
igniting the frosty hillsides to growth,
fuses each thing with verdant energy,
revives again the seed, renews the bulb,
sprouting tender shoots juice-rich and sap-full
Shy blossoms set to bloom and burst with fruit
Fresh scented breezes ruffle foliage
maiden ferns shiver with their thrill and ******
Grasses and reeds bedewed and beryline,
murmuring and humming low and dulcet,
dancing and swaying at the river’s edge.
Roots of every tree draw deep from the earth
Magnolia and Frangipani breathe
and pant out fragrant honeyed lusciousness
Spring sparks and quickens, kicks and is alive.

© M.L.Emmett
One of a series of poems on Elements
Although not Spring here in the southern hemisphere until 1st September, my snowdrops are up and about (revved up, no doubt by global warming) so that is my sign Spring is near.
Maggie Emmett Jun 2016
You were no Eve of Russian literature
like Pushkin’s precious Tatyana.
You were no young, innocent, provincial girl
seduced by cynical Onegin, that bon vivant
corrupted by modern European values.
You were no mysterious Russian soul
brimful of essential purity and self-sacrifice -
with a love of pain and pure disdain of happiness.

Tatyana resisted all temptation, refusing
to take flight, rejecting the man she loved.
She was too good to be true; but you, Anna
what a pickle you got yourself in, choosing ****** sin.
You could share an affair with dashing Vronsky
elope with him and leave behind your husband
abandon your beloved son, Alexei.

But these were not the dreadful choices
sealing your tragic fate, my dear Anna.
It was those ****** feelings you chased
all based on the sin of selfishness.
You fed on romance, passion and desire.
Your hot-hunger was insatiable, a fire
rip-roaring through restraint and all decorum
You sweated and panted wild for ******.

They say you’re a ‘drama queen’; heartless and mean
a woman undone by excess, always longing to undress
nakedly making grand errors of judgement.
By ignoring Tatyana’s fine example, you certainly forgot
there will always be those who tot up the ledger.
Your blood debt was owing, it had to be paid.

You saw the light at the end of the tunnel -
cool down, Anna, let the raw feelings subside
be watchful, wary and ever-ready to step aside
let the moments of  menace and gloom drain –
it might just be an oncoming train is due.

© M.L.Emmett 2016
Writing a series of poems about women in literature. Anna Karenina is the title character from  Tolstoy's great novel.
Maggie Emmett May 2016
Gendering Woman *******

Beautiful, anatomical part //  ****, anatomical part
Natural, pleasurable             //   Burdensome, loathsome
Female Symbolic                //    Femme Symbolic
MALIGNANT                             HEALTHY

fearful, tearful, wretched     //  joyful, hopeful, euphoric,
bereft, wept, grieving          //  embryonic, rapt, relieving
leaving, loss                         //  believing, gain
m a y b e - d e a t h                                            r e - b i r t h
                                                   BI-LATERAL
                                             MASTECTOMIES
Operating Theatre

SURGEON                                         ANAESTHETIST
cleaning/ cutting/ knife/ scalpel   //   doping/ unconscious/ airway
blood / tissue                                 //   hypotension
loss/ damage                                 //   shock
drains                                             //   sinus rhythm
stitches                                           //   pain deadening
tight binding                                 //   reversal drugs
                                    
POST-OPERATIVE
a l i v e                                                a w a k e

draining, bound & stitched               draining, bound & stitched
                                            DRAINED
    ­                                   ~ UNBOUND
                                       -- UNSTITCHED –

Empty chest                                                    Flat Chest
FREEDOM from Disease                               FREEDOM from Dis-ease


© M.L.Emmett
This was written to explore the different responses to bi-lateral mastectomies, one woman with Cancer; the other trans gendering. It was inspired by reading The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, whose partner, Harry, was pleased to be rid of these cumbersome appendages & by my friend, Angela who had breast carcinoma and felt very differently towards the loss of *******.
Maggie Emmett May 2016
~ For Molly ~

There cannot ever be, for me
an emotional peak so high
and beyond all other experience
so much my own, entirely.
A speechless secret, my unsaid words
preserving its wonderful wholeness
the not-telling, keeping it so precious
too precious for me, I fear, to shatter
the silence of its perfection.

The blood bond between us
holds no hidden barriers
in this amniotic floating universe
shock-absorbing all the outer world
nutrient rich, nourishing your growth.
My voice vibrating, rippling
in your sonic breathless bubble.
My body, in all its actions
and motions, marking your time
rolling and turning your shaping.

Your rhythm pressing my organs
punching and kicking, demanding space
Immersed in my body’s ****-core
snuggling safe and deeply nestled
in our sheer and utter intimacy.
I give you all I’ll ever have
my blood, my breath, my everything
beyond all my knowing and imagining
this is a devotion most terrible and sublime.


© M.L.Emmett 2016
Poem for my daughter
Maggie Emmett Apr 2016
(for Jill Jones)

Each day is always possible
I fling myself at chances.

My horizon pulses its limitless light
splitting atoms, shattering the white.

Silver birches shiver spotlights
whispering forgotten lines in my ears.

Feathered clouds soar and skim
as I taste the vast blue skin of sky.

I catch the words beneath the waves
each tide of syllables and song.

I’m sand-etched and scratch at
language lost and left on the shore.

I make for the glowing yellow moment  
and live in metaphor.


© M.L.Emmett 2016
Written in response to a poem by Jill Jones - an Australian poet
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