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Mary Fitzpatrick: California Poets Part 4, Five Poems

Mary Fitzpatrick

December 29th, 2021

California Poets: Part IV

Mary Fitzpatrick

Five Poems


As if the star clusters of the Milky Way

were each a nation on the night sky’s map

serenely blinking, touching gleam to gleam

until a few knots turn angry red

then yellow or sputter black

and dying pull

thousands of memories

into their holes and like the rest of us stretch

new arms to keep touching for only

in constellations

do stars form stories

stories of how they belong.

** ** ** **

How numerous the world the human

species how ripe

for annihilation we are: masked,

pocked, weaponed—at last

the zombie apocalypse: ‘going viral.’

Chasing news and rumors, deep

shock of behavioral change. A week’s

cascade—one e-mail

then the next—flattening Spring’s fat

agenda: all those celebrations planned.

** ** ** **

This loss and that sacrifice, small when stacked

against the ER’s blue blizzard of gloves and gowns,

gurneys beeping into a morgue. I embrace

renunciation, this purple Lent of solitude,

abhor the squawking crow—

its black untethered feathers falling.

** ** ** **

One month in, I pass the research institute’s

astrophysics video screen, where Hubble’s

remote galaxies once spun—

those pulsing clustered worlds being born—

and I see the screen is white.


It’s just me—

a little bleak—

and this world,

this here, this now.

How the Doctors Prepare

One must stay motivated or slip. A slip

could be fatal. One must stay motivated: who

do you love could die? Who, if you die, would

mourn? Change or die — this anthem of change

managers—and here we are. Stop celebrating

gathering shopping learning—our hunger

for the world is post- phoned. Who is tempted? Who

squanders caution or love? In them we find our danger.

This Lent, we are Renunciates. We have given up much.

It is a kind of prayer. We offer it for one another.

Orpheus “The Underworld is made of men’s memories and the ruins of their habits.” — Jean Cocteau When Death loves you, there is nothing more to want. Deft, she pulls on her black gloves and motions you: attend. Speech is useless, but song—song…. Whose dream are you? Into whose vision do you descend? Singing in your slop and mire… Sound bells the canvas of your little boat and you race along a glassy face. When singing stops the water blackens. There adrift with you, Death— amorous— her fingers bid you pluck each stanza, each bleating quatrain.

Good Friday What had been promised? That the light would return The land blush green The antibiotics restore The fevered amnesiac Shivering in her pool of sweat Now gasping For more water What had been promised? A reliable test for the invisible Contagion, a world Without masks, the kind Of place we might walk Arm in arm, even Embrace when Meeting the dead.

What to Do From Confinement This Spring’s a wet catalogue of flowers addendum of birds, a lovely time to have to stay home. Bewick’s wren gnatcatcher bushtit I see your eyes watching glass- black from the leaf litter shadow ranch from under the smoky sage stalks smoky as in smell earth green gone silver how you hide goldfinch towhee heart of one who waits and learns that she must wait again so near to crescendo the final act chord, world interrupted in fact no cymbals clash I am in suspended time everything’s thicker I feel selfish I languish these mockingbirds repeat a subtle chase who are they fooling? I want another nest in the neighborhood warbler vireo flycatcher I wish I could

Author Bio:

Mary Fitzpatrick’s poems have been finalists for the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and the Slapering Hol Chapbook Award; short-listed for Fish Publishing Prize; have been featured in Mississippi Review, Atlanta Review and North American Review as contest finalists; and have also been published in such journals as Agenda (UK), Briar Cliff Review, Cholla Needles, Hunger Mountain, Miramar, The Paterson Review, Spillway, and Her poems appear in ten anthologies, most recently California Fire & Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology and We Are Here—Village Poets of Sunland/Tujunga. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz with an MFA from UMass Amherst, she is a fourth-generation Angeleno who feels at home in Ireland.


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