Stan Galloway: 2 poems


I would not like to live in a world without cathedrals.* 
As if cathedrals and museums were the same
memorials of what is lost
                      what remains
propaganda of theology in crisis
            just one letter off
where the scarlet letter A means preservation
Odesa     Kherson     Zaporizhia     Kyiv
sentinels of faith and history
               standing in imperious silence
the shades of saints filtering light
their voices preserved in the cool stillness of prayers 
mortaring each moment.

* From Amadeu de Prado's graduation speech in Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier, tr. Barbara Harshav. 


WS Merwin (1927-2019)

I have known through these years 
the place of parting and of returning* 

The voice of one drunk man 
singing from an offcast furnace
translating glee to note and back to glee again
looking – Janus-masked – in both directions
fortune and sparsity tumble-bumble 

With rain in the treetops
insects surf labile leafscapes
their blood's tune and glitter the drum of being
unfelt by shoed feet and plastic wings
untuned to abiding human desperation
embracing fond woe, as Shelley said
eating themselves to death.

Preserving		recreating the world
the poet 
      carrier of a thousand transparent ladders 
to bridge between the thrush and its song
                             parting and its returning
                             dusk and its light
even when a thrush is not a thrush
nor a song a song
nor perfection a human perception
because for people 
no longer able to symbolize their world
                        to see a moon before morning
                        to see a palm forest for its trees
the poets' shrill is just a cricket's crunch
as broken by the wings of moths.

*W.S. Merwin, “One Day Moth”

Stan Galloway writes from the hills of West Virginia. He has taught college-level writing and literature for more than 40 years. In 2020 he served a residency at Gullkistan Creative Arts Center in Iceland. His poetry is available online and in print, especially his book Just Married (Unbound Content, 2013). He founded Pier-Glass Poetry in 2021.


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