Sunday 5 May 2013

3 Poems by Mary Jo Balistreri

Jam Session
                    Yellow finches perch
                                on swaying Niger-seed feeders
while hummers change sound
into light. It’s early but wind
plays rhythm, whisks cluster-
chord chimes, snares limbs
of bellowing bass, swishes
soft across pond’s skin.
Tempo scoops and lifts
spun wings of birds
impatient red accent
buzz of vibration
melodic quotation.

They will jam
until the sun grows high
until Honeysuckle Rose whorls
her sweet trumpet in the gathering heat.
Degas’ Woman

A woman bends for shells in the early light,
the ample tenderness of her curved back
a soft charcoal outline Degas might have
rubbed, making summer out of pastel and canvas.
Across her bare feet, a song of morning swooshes
pale green against the rounded, still form.
Small children inch into the surf,
their flowered hats blooming like water lilies.
The woman’s spine, bent like a fishing rod,
bows to the sea’s abundance, a connection
of give—and—take generosity.
Finding her treasure, she rises, slowly, the shell
cradled in her cupped hands. She smiles,
pleased with the beauty she holds as the children
draw near to see. Up above, gulls wing in the sheeted sky,
their looped script, black and silver.

The sun shifts, the shell gatherer rises, and memory nests,
curved line inside the woman, inside the observer, inside the poem,
where in the ongoing present
nothing is ever lost.


torn from tree for love
honey-sharpened by fierce sun
tongues of bright mangoes

Mary Jo writes poetry in a spirit of discovery, of witness, and of trying to understand who she is and her place in the world. She has been published in Avocet, Passager, The Healing Muse, Verse Wisconsin and others. Bellowing Ark Press published two books of poems, Joy in the Morning, 2008, and Gathering the Harvest, 2012. Please visit her website for more information:

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