Claudia Gary – Four Poems


At Last, a Man Who Listens

He whispers, write a poem,
and suggests
no subject.

She thinks she’ll wrap her arms
and poem
about him.

As Remembered

Twenty, thirty years,
two continents, three cities —
the telephone rings.

Filling silences
we describe families. I say
my hair’s turning gray.

Laughter’s old music,
our conversation’s scaffold,
has never collapsed.

In memory’s loft,
breath, words, spaces between words —
there you perch, singing.

Too Much Here

“There may be too much here,”
you say, and yes, it’s true.
We’ve tried hard to ignore
its presence, though we knew

our lives were in its power.
Too much what? As a clue
let’s write it: “too much here.”
Words on a line peer through

both of us — what we are,
what little we can do
with the too much that’s here.
You’ve said it and it’s true,

but it won’t disappear.
Nor do we want it to.

On the Last Weekend of Summer

The old ingredients are here, thinned out —
sand pyramids and castles offered up
to tide; toddlers’ first meetings with an ocean’s
expanse and undulation; cast-off shells;

sandpipers chasing lacy wave-tips up
onto the beach and down, as seagulls flex
their knees preparing to launch overhead
and join skywriters, kites, a few puffed clouds;

perfectly fitted swimsuits and sarongs
amid the scanter ones on bulging flesh;
young lifeguards’ whistles in loco parentis
to rein in slightly younger teens’ bravado.

I walk along the firm-packed sand where brine
washes around my feet, laps at my shins.
Here, with her adult children standing guard
in tight formation, arms crossed on their chests,

a Muslim grandmother, bespectacled,
covered from head to ankles in blue silk,
lies on her side along the water’s edge,
wriggles her toes, and smiles out at the sea.


Author’s Statement on Beauty¬†

Sometimes I think beauty is a back story that’s revealed when the cover story is dropped. It probably took more time and more work to create (but less planning) than did its pretty facsimile. Beauty may be the unspoken reason why someone is so kind or listens so well. It may be a distilled version of love that appears after the years have fallen away — a version that either coexists in peace with one’s current life, or (at least for a while) refuses to let go. And beauty may also be a side of oneself that’s hidden away to protect against misunderstanding. The more precious it is, the more strongly it may need to be guarded.


Claudia Gary writes, edits, sings, and composes tonal chamber music and art songs near Washington DC. She is author of the full-length poetry collection Humor Me (David Robert Books 2006) and several chapbooks including Bikini Buyer’s Remorse. Her poems appear in anthologies such as The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology (Lamar University Press 2016), Forgetting Home (Barefoot Muse Press 2013), and Villanelles (Everyman Press 2012), as well as in journals internationally. Her articles on health appear in The VVA Veteran, VFW, and elsewhere. More at Twitter: @claudiagary.