CLAUDIA GARY lives near Washington DC and teaches workshops on Villanelle, Sonnet, Natural Meter, Persona Poems, Poetry vs. Trauma, etc., at The Writer’s Center (writer.org), currently via Zoom. Author of Humor Me (2006) and several chapbooks, most recently Genetic Revisionism (2019), she is also a health science writer, visual artist, and composer of tonal chamber music and art songs. Her chapbooks are available via the email address at pw.org/content/claudia_gary.
Her article “Song as Conversation,” on setting poems to music, is online at
Poet Under Fig Tree
Some days he cannot choose
between the living and the dead.
The latter want too much of him,
the former want too little.
Talent’s a sticky riddle
whose seeds are strewn at nature’s whim,
whose fruit he heats and stirs to spread
before a mortal muse.
What Would Zeus Do?
Most likely something with a thunderbolt:
Mistaking lightning for imagination,
he’d make the sky his canvas. Or he’d molt
into a swan, a bison, a dalmatian.
And you? Since I’m not Hera, you’ll keep looking
past me for glimmerings of her and Greece.
Your mouth will always water for her cooking.
It won’t appear, and we will have no peace.
As this land offers less and less to praise,
our beauty may be lost on one another.
Between the sleepless nights, how can the days
bring any comfort? Here’s where Zeus’ brother
below ground and the one who rules the ocean
need to unroil, unrumble our commotion.
In the Void
For one who loved Math and Latin
a spiritual Goth moment
became a teenage alias:
To be nothing, the extreme
nullity, meant being
on the inside of everything,
the ultimate persona.
Was it a pose? Did she
actually know something
for one split-second—or nothing?
If it was only absence
what did she know in her absence?
This was where things could get
interesting, if only
for a nothing moment.
Cape May, by Andrew Wyeth
As skies threatened rain I steered back the boat
to watch dappled clouds from this beach in half light,
frame planted, eyes fixed to the shifting horizon,
away from my flock for longer than planned.
You tell me my headdress appears to take flight?
Either this, or the being within, is disguise.
I don’t have the presence to open my hands.
The joy of the wind is caught in my throat.
On Having Misspoken
Time set aside for poems I reassign
for wordlessness: to sort collected seashells,
see which of them already have their own
airgaps with room for silk cord, colored beads
on curved and rippled surfaces that cradle
all light, reflect it softly, hold it always
at the best angle, unlike mistimed words.
CLAUDIA GARY’s latest chapbook is Genetic Revisionism. She is also author of Humor Me (David Robert Books, 2006) and chapbooks including Bikini Buyer’s Remorse, Let’s Get Out of Here, and Epicurigrams, all available from the author. A writing instructor, health journalist, and composer of art songs and chamber music, she lives near Washington D.C. Her workshops at The Writer’s Center (writer.org) on Villanelle, Sonnet, Natural Meter, Poetry vs. Trauma, and other topics are currently accessible worldwide via Zoom. See pw.org/content/claudia_gary; follow @claudiagary