Five poems by Claudia Gary

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 (, 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

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:

Nulla Ultima.

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.