Christopher Jane Corkery

The Siren

                                                                                    to a poet

The “thing-ness” of your poems impressed me.
By that I mean that many were the nouns
and that, among them, it seemed most were concrete
(unlike the previous line) and colorful, or colored—
the Lenten rose, the rotting meat, the bay,
Your lover’s back, your father sleeping, old,
And, by inference, grey, in the adjacent room.

You, though, seemed to be on hold—
different from me, holding back perhaps
the thing that would crack you in two, the too-hard thing:
and here we move to me: my husband’s right-hand fingers
scrabbling at his left, where his wedding ring
should be, and I, assuring him I had it.
That siren wailed for me.

It Was Yeats Who Took Me

It was Yeats who took me. I was seventeen,
In love with watery consonants, with boys.
But Yeats would show me what my life could mean.

Afraid of men, yet drawn, a sucker for looks –
I studied his dark forelock, his sweet mouth.
It was Yeats who took me, I was seventeen.

My best friend’s boy, another bow-lipped wonder,
Took me for screaming rides on a Norton 850.
But Yeats would show me what my life would mean.

I talked the boyfriend silly, held off advances
Until the time I couldn’t. And yet, and yet….
It was Yeats who took me! I was seventeen

And ready to believe words spoken to shells,
Because he was so lonely, like me, so weird.
Yeats would show me what my life could mean.

I clung to that great body. His delight
In love, and loss, and water, and swans was mine!
It was Yeats who took me, (I was seventeen),
And showed me, word by word, what life could mean.


Hello, says the paper.
Hello, the hat.
Pick me up, read me,
Put me on.

We wait with the clock,
And the kettle, and the long
Breadknife whose handle
Is silky with age.

Use us, walk on
To the world’s stage.
Learn that you
Are an actor as well.

Of kindness?  Revenge?
Who can tell?
Of a subtler love?
Choose.  Choose.

The breadboard is round,
The color of cloves.
A lovely bevel
Travels its edge

And the word Bread —
Who encised it? –
Turns and returns,
As if things were simple.

Christopher Jane Corkery

Christopher Jane Corkery’s first collection, Blessing, was published in the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Agni, The Atlantic, Image, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. The winner of a Pushcart Prize, she has received an Ingram Merrill Foundation Fellowship and has been a fellow of Yaddo and the McDowell Colony.  Recently a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome, her new collection of poems from Slant Books will appear at the end of this year.