Stephen Mead


the dead baby, a cold burn
for a minute, then white duck nappies
changed, the blanket folding over, tucked
eloquent, a wool cocoon with room for
the head, the fingers, life’s dignified
They say, “Forget it, have ano...”
They say... awkward, apologetic,
and of course we understand.
There’s no adequate etiquette
without tripping maudlin, heavy
on the violins, or switching subjects briskly.
Yet, in utero, premature, after six months
of expectation, suddenly, say, a gray
pigeon feather, lying flat across the screen
and a consoling hand on the cheek
as opposed to an Alpha Centauri wail.
Still, loss is born, so it must not
be a dream, bad, forgettable. The body
knows, having carried, held pictures, a triptych
now ripped at its hinges or, no, not ripped,
rather bound quite invisibly, as if at a distance...

So we and our child travel

I Sent a Letter to My Love
(Thanks to Bernice Rubens)

A drop in the bucket it was, water, water
welling. I thought if perhaps we were
suddenly stone-struck, then we'd have
some sort of beauty, noble, immutable
to the descent of gray sheets. Marble slabs

chiseled gothic, poignant under a curtain
of trickles: what a presence, perfection,
catharsis of a kind. The features would be
set, no recesses revealed, no sadness, no longing,
only a passion, roman cold, cauterized right into
rock. I needed that,

desired metamorphosis, at least some coral cove
for gulls flapping over, their tattered whiteness
a mirror-series of flags against the mad seas
distraction, its lament, intractable:
the moon rise, the tidal pull-----

Stone is never so desperate, & to fathom
my real hunger would be to acknowledge
just what you have been. Instead I embrace
the statue of my carving, & enter it, fitted
to form. In that stasis there is a storm
to weather the shelter of, evading,

evading the secret each wave delivers
as it eats my basalt. Breath after breath,
the solitude spreads shadows on far shores,
a whole continent of lighthouses, & my
engraved craving falls, littered letters in surf.

Drifting, now eyes watch how gulls come,


Stephen Mead © 2017

Paris Windmills

Wand, wand, wand-----
I know this big pinwheel,
what whole sky it slices
while the whole sky continues…

Whir, whir, whir-----
a cathedral in this turn & then,
in the next, a block of cool lozenges
circling up from boulevards,
their sherbet-hued roofs…

I can taste each as I pass
here on a Holland Hill, struck,
kaleidoscopic, as the most amazing

Time shines in its passage
as arcs & blades.
Time whizzes helicopter style
through a slowness funneling grace
back to French braids & French kisses,
the knot of just being where Chagall was once.

Listen, his donkeys bray from a wedding of fiddles
past the ghettoes, past the Holocaust, & I,
not bride, any more than canvas is a veil,
or paintbrush, religion, I yet let the wind mill me
as if married to these hands, these images,
this paradise spinning


Stephen Mead © 2017