Biography of Marilyn Taylor
Marilyn Lighter Taylor (born October 2, 1939) is an American poet with eight published collections of poems. Taylor’s poems have been published in numbers of anthologies and journals, that have included The American Scholar, Smartish Pace, The Formalist, Poetry, and the Poetry’s 90th Anniversary Anthology. Subject to Change (David Robert, 2004), her second full-length collection, was nominated for the Poets' Prize in 2005. From year 2004 to 2005, she served as the city of Milwaukee's Poet Laureate. She was appointed Poet Laureate of the state of Wisconsin for 2009 and 2010 by Governor Jim Doyle. She was the former Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she first taught for the Department of English and later for the Honors College. Currently, she is a contributing editor for The Writer Magazine.
Marilyn Taylor Poems
Home Again, Home Again
The children are back, the children are back— They've come to take refuge, exhale and unpack; The marriage has faltered, the job has gone bad,
The Blue Water Buffalo
On both sides of the screaming highway, the world is made of emerald silk—sumptuous bolts of it, stitched by threads of water into cushions
To the Mother of a Dead Marine
Your boy once touched me, yes. I knew you knew when your wet, reddened gaze drilled into me, groped through my clothes for signs, some residue of himâ€"some lusciousness of mine that he had craved, that might have driven his desire for things perilous, poisonous, out-of-bounds. Could I have been the beast he rode to war? The battle mounted in his sleep, the rounds of ammunition draped like unblown blossoms round his neck? Could I have somehow flung myself against the wall of his obsessions, leaving spells and curses on his tongue? Your fingers tighten, ready to engage the delicate hair-trigger of your rage.
The children are back, the children are backâ€" They've come to take refuge, exhale and unpack; The marriage has faltered, the job has gone bad, Come open the door for them, Mother and Dad. The city apartment is leaky and cold, The landlord lascivious, greedy and oldâ€" The mattress is lumpy, the oven's encrusted, The freezer, the fan, and the toilet have rusted. The company caved, the boss went broke, The job and the love-affair, all up in smoke. The anguish of loneliness comes as a shockâ€" O heart in the doldrums, O heart in hock. And so they return with their piles of possessions, Their terrified cats and their mournful expressions Reclaiming the bedrooms they had in their teens, Clean towels, warm comforter, glass figurines. Downstairs in the kitchen the father and mother Don't say a word, but they look at each other As down the hill comes Jill, comes Jack. The children are back. The children are back.
Reverie, with Fries
Straight-spined girlâ€"yes, you of the glinting earrings, amber skin and sinuous hair: what happened? you've no business lunching with sticky children here at McDonald's. Are they yours? How old were you when you had them? You are far too dazzling to be their mother, though I hear them spluttering Mommy Mommy over the Muzak. Do you plan to squander your precious twenties wiping ketchup dripping from little fingers, drowning your ennui in a Dr. Pepper from the dispenser? Were I you for one schizophrenic moment, I'd display my pulchritude with a graceful yet dismissive wave to the gathered burghers feeding their facesâ€" find myself a job as a super-model, get me to those Peloponnesian beaches where I'd preen all day with a jug of ouzo in my bikini. Would I miss the gummy suburban vinyl, hanker for the Happiest Meal on Main Street? â€"Wouldn't one spectacular shrug suffice for begging the question?
For Lucy, Who Came First
She simply settled down in one piece right where she was, in the sand of a long-vanished lake edge or stream- and died. â€"Donald C. Johanson, paleoanthropologist When I put my hand up to my face I can trace her heavy jawbone and the sockets of her eyes under my skin. And in the dark I sometimes feel her trying to uncurl from where she sank into mudbound sleep on that soft and temporary shore so staggeringly long ago, time had not yet cut its straight line through the tangle of the planet, nor taken up the measured sweep that stacks the days and seasons into an ordered past. But I can feel her stirring in the core of me, trying to rise up from the deep hollow where she fellâ€" wanting to prowl on long callused toes to see what made that shadow move, to face the creature in the dark thicket needing to know if this late-spreading dawn will bring handfuls of berries, black as blood, or the sting of snow, or the steady slap of sand and weed that wraps itself like fur around the body.
The Geniuses Among Us
They take us by surprise, these tall perennials that jut like hollyhocks above the canopy of all the rest of usâ€"bright testimonials to the scale of human possibility. They come to bloom for every generation, blazing with extraordinary notions from the taproots of imaginationâ€" dazzling us with incandescent visions. And soon, the things we never thought would happen start to happen: the solid fences of reality begin to soften, crumbling into fables and romancesâ€" and we turn away from where we've been to a new place, where light is pouring in.
Reading the Obituaries
Now the Barbaras have begun to die, trailing their older sisters to the grave, the Helens, Margies, Nansâ€"who said goodbye just days ago, it seems, taking their leave a step or two behind the hooded girls who bloomed and withered with the centuryâ€" the Dorotheas, Eleanors and Pearls now swaying on the edge of memory. Soon, soon, the scythe will sweep for Jeanne and Angela, Patricia and Dianeâ€" pause, and return for Karen and Christine while Susan spends a sleepless night again. Ah, Debra, how can you be growing old? Jennifer, Michelle, your hands are cold.
At the End
In another time, a linen winding sheet would already have been drawn about her, the funeral drums by now would have throbbed their dull tattoo into the shadows writhing behind the fire's eye while a likeness of her narrow torso, carved and studded with obsidian might have been passed from hand to hand and rubbed against the bellies of women with child and a twist of her gray hair been dipped in oil and set alight, releasing the essence of her life's elixir, pricking the nostrils of her children and her children's children whose amber faces nod and shine like a ring of lanterns strung around her final flare- but instead, she lives in this white room gnawing on a plastic bracelet as she is emptied, filled and emptied.
Subject to Change
A reflection on my students They are so beautiful, and so very young they seem almost to glitter with perfection, these creatures that I briefly move among. I never get to stay with them for long, but even so, I view them with affection: they are so beautiful, and so very young. Poised or clumsy, placid or high-strung, they're expert in the art of introspection, these creatures that I briefly move among— And if their words don't quite trip off the tongue consistently, with just the right inflection, they remain beautiful. And very young. Still, I have to tell myself it's wrong to think of them as anything but fiction, these creatures that I briefly move among— Because, like me, they're traveling headlong in that familiar, vertical direction that coarsens beautiful, blackmails young— the two delusions we all move among.
Aunt Eudora's Harlequin Romance
She turns the bedlamp on. The book falls open in her mottled hands, and while she reads her mouth begins to quiver, forming words like Breathless. Promises. Elope. As she turns the leaves, Eudora's cheek takes on a bit of bloom. Her frowzy hair thickens and turns gold, her dim eyes clear, the wattles vanish from her slender neck. Her waist, emerging from its ring of flesh, bends to the side. Breasts that used to hang like pockets rise and ripen; her long legs tremble. Her eyes close, she holds her breath— the steamy pages flutter by, unread, as lover after lover finds her bed.
At the End
In another time, a linen winding sheet
would already have been drawn
about her, the funeral drums by now
would have throbbed their dull tattoo
into the shadows writhing
behind the fire's eye
while a likeness