Mary Ellen Talley – Three Poems




Wild Sculptures Never Sway


Fifteen silhouettes, wild horses
stampeding across the mesa
look to be charging to the edge of a hill
above the mighty Columbia near Vantage
before our family crosses the bridge
in our Vanagon
singing Row, row, row your boat
each time we drive home cross the state
after visiting grandparents.


The mustangs take us back
to the legend of their unfinished creation story,
Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies.


So many rapid journeys East/West –
finally kids grown and gone
you and I climb the steep trail
to touch inch-thick flank
of a rearing stallion
and trace the carved stars rising skyward
someone graffiti-branded on hind legs.


Twelve hundred pounds
each horse rooted into basalt
elegant parade
as we weave ourselves among their singular poses –
some trotting and one as if it would not stop at the precipice
before leaping with perfect momentum across the landscape chasm,
one as if emerging from mother earth in a rapid gallop.
Breeze and heat amid stubbled brush. I listen for residual sounds,
perhaps wind-tossed sage brush balls scraping steel faces
and coyotes traipsing dust tracks at nightfall
amid the equines of perpetual walk, wait, rear and trot.
The largest stallion wears autographs,
initialed hearts and graduation dates
drawn over bronzed corrosion
while rearing toward the sun dry sky
as if the street artists’ climb had been orchestrated
each full moon night by the award-winning sculptor.




…creatures with which we share the world read and respond to nature in ways we sometimes cannot see or hear. – from Bird Note

Only the girlish winter wren
deciphers each syllabic pulse
rushing from the throat
of her intended,

notes compressed
into a pretty jibberish
under a branching canopy.


I cannot hear the acres of words
spread about the nests
of my children
and their lovers.


Do I dare infer, slow the time
wren and robin fly my way,
listen to words they share
as feathers to my own nest?


What is the impact of their flight?
Is the throat parched? Is the nest laden
with soft feathers or bristle cones?
Does the hawk leave a shadow?


Piccolo – trill – flute – echo.
Wind orchestra, voices of children
flood me even as they soar
in separating strands.


Anna’s Hummingbird


If I tell you the hummingbird that sings
could live in my cupped hands, that I would freeze
and kneel at thrumming of the rapid wings
as they rise to fly in flowering breeze,
you might trust the image of my thinking
and say dreams redress the trials of living.
If I say there’s a nest in the crag-edged
bowl my skull that protects my silly wits
and that the rose-pink crown settles, wedged
below my cortex, feathered with hydrangea tufts,
you’d think fatigue had drugged my amygdala,
spider webs congealed my basal ganglia.
Blue sepals pillow the feet of the young,
drip sugar water upon a small tongue.



Author’s Statement on Beauty

First, I conjure visual beauty, the paintings I share with children as an art docent in my granddaughter’s class and some amazing photos that friends share over social media.  I’ve become aware recently how photos get doctored and how famous art has faded.  Visual beauty changes across time.  Acoustic and linguistic beauty changes less. Think music, think the song I heard sung at a church today so moving that I wrote down the words and wanted both to listen and keep singing. Think a thrilling Broadway musical and a crowd singing God Bless America, even Take Me Out to the Ballgame. My favorite acoustic beauty, linguistics of the written word, is generally more permanent than is visual beauty. Poignant words to describe, to inspire, and improve the lot of others will never change as long as we listen, we speak and we write.  Even a rant can be beautiful acoustically as it evokes music with only the page and the voice as an instrument.

Pi Archimedes

hit the museum
with the impatient grandkids
say color
say see rising mountain face holding a waterfall
this painting buffets persuasion and penitence


Mary Ellen Talley’s poems have most recently been published in and Kaleidoscope as well as in recent anthologies, The Doll Collection, All We Can Hold: poems of motherhood and Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace. She has worked for many years with words and children as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in Washington public schools.