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

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