Nancy A. Henry

Certain Things

My heart
heaves up curses, coughing sand,
as one might expect of a woman
who has shut herself in from the waters.

I came scarred and singed through  
these progressive amputations of age,
learning to exploit those things
which refused me delight. I grew deaf
and intent as a hammer. 

Blood rose, sweet fire bush,
dragonfly, thunder, speak to me again.
I drop these sharp and stinging burdens
I have gathered on the way. I open,

send home all the guards. River, oak, firefly,
I welcome you at every gate
through which you come.

To the Man on the Corner

Slowly we receive the light
so that whatever
imperfections are present
can be accentuated
when the fallout comes.

Rain mixes with the oil of the streets,
trails cold fingers down your cheeks,
almost half-heartedly, almost
as if it has lost its way.

The city is coming alive around you,
dawn announces a dozen dreams
on the cusp of resolution.

Finally disparity between the elements
  are brought to a single source,
the air thins and sweetens
the dark sky bleaching white and blue.
You know these symptoms
  totally eliminate invisibility.

I take note of these conditions
but no ownership or rights
are being claimed by me.
I am simply up at six in the morning, too,
to vent a little angst, slap some paint on dirty
board up an unsettling window.

The anguished try to make themselves small enough
to be hidden from view, but I see you.
You hide by the rusted gratings
to do what you need to do.


When you're bitten by the bug,
you want to get over the disorder
as quickly as possible,
find refuge in the rank and file,
thinking how nice it would be to go to Paris,
hit the road in the middle of the day.
Pain, you discover, was always blue,
the hot blue of lighting, not of the lake ice,
the January dawn. 
At a party, a friend offers you a small packet.
When you finally get a taste of it you wonder
if there could ever be enough.
It has a very urban feel,
controls how much light
is let into the body,
the harsh street light that illuminates
the depths of your troubles.
     From where you sit
you can't see any part
of the melon-colored sky,
the tawny wedge of dust
blowing in from the east,
spinning scraps of paper up your street.
It's still daylight;
you take a cab to a local motel.
Drinking coffee, the windows go dark
to emphasize the loneliness of your life.
Maybe it's the last night.
You dream of a world
where the soft rain

Cedar Key, 1975

Twice a year we cast our skins like serpents,
plants that feed on dust and rainfall
enduring the predicaments of lust
for the first, for the second, time.
Summer is looming;

barefoot on the cracked cement,
selling scarves and beaded jewelry,
you know how hard it is.

I told them I am never coming home.
It's nearly sundown.
We don our dinner dresses and we scheme.

Nancy Henry's poems have appeared in Three Candles, Tryst, Carnelian, SiderealitySouthern Humanities Review, Pedestal, Poetrybay, Poetry International, The Hollins Critic, The Café Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Oxford Poetry, 5 AM,  and many other publications in the US, UK and AU. She teaches English composition and literature at Southern Maine Community College. Nancy was a co-editor of the Maine poetry anthology A Sense of Place. Her  chapbooks "Anything
Can Happen
" and "Hard" were published by MuscleHead Press. She's received four Pushcart Prize nominations and an Atlanta Review International Merit Award. Prior to teaching English, she was an attorney in the field of child protection.


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