Original Poetry / Poetry

Bloom Creative Writing: Poetry by Muriel Nelson

With this selection of five poems by Muriel Nelson we continue our series of original fiction or poetry by writers who either published their first book at 40 or after, or who have yet to publish a book. Writers interested in submitting work should see our guidelines.

Image by 田 赵 from Pixabay
Where traffic hisses, black and spotted, plum buds burst —
petal, pistil, stamen
held breath.

There snow shrinks back. Like painted spray from Aphrodite’s tide,
may chilled air
that stings like salt and numbs stay —
then sink more slowly
than the stars
above that edge of cold exposed

near those blossoms.


Let’s have a tune
    for the odd and the ordinary to sing together.

Let’s have a cook with two apron pockets
    one for a lemon
    the other an onion

    or is it one for memory
    and the other mystery?

And in this hall with too much reverb
    where words get jumbled on empty chairs
    where only the custodian uses the mike
    testing it shyly with a poem   
    where they, the great They, aren’t there
    busy as Anonymous with something solemn
    or with nothing, nothing,

let’s bring on that terrible twosome
    the one who sings lost love songs
    and that other one who burns them.

What’s the Shelf Life of a Soul?

It’s a beautiful day to fail.
Nothing to do but pull a weed
like me.

A fresh day. Wind plays
new leaves in a new key. Water sprouts

their way to the heavens. Fruitless.
And at dusk now, frogs chorus, full
of their need.

A doe wanders out to graze.
We gaze at each other. I’m neither water
nor danger.

She ambles on. No rush.
No call. A beautiful night. Rustlings

Each tree’s up against sky light,
each 10-times-10-foot pole out of touch
or reach.

How long? Every fool has feelers.
How long must they grow to hope for the softest
heart of all?

There’s something satisfying in growing nothing — bare dirt
dark with dew

that weed life’s sure to burgeon soon now that the garden’s ‘put to bed’
beneath a backlit

cloud’s sharp edge and maples arguing while scribbling
sky pit black.

It’s late. The news is grim. Inside, I try to ease my merely twinging back
between a purring cat

and you. Understand, light’s nearly gone. The cat’s black, the bed’s dim,
your eyes are shut,

and now, flung trusting in the space I need to lay me down
lies your dear hand.
Requiem for Useless Things

Useless as
my child-self’s call to tell the doctor not to come
my red toy phone and arguments with sugar ants
or ancient weeds or wagging chins
masks slipped and caught on them wagging rage
rage against raging
rage against ‘all flesh is grass’
against votes cast
laws too
it seems,
this calling keeps us busy
saying words like flesh behold thy lawn
when all the so-called ‘glory of man’
bright as ice on roofs and land seems useless too
so lay it to rest and melt it down
as window flames now double dawn
and draw fire along the street and here
comes sun with Brahms and music back alive
while all the Bible’s grass in pastures green
finds edges of a shadow soul
where negatives start edging out to roil
in dawn’s developer as night’s bodies
fade into day’s uttering light.

Muriel Nelson’s publications include Part Song (Bear Star Press, Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize), Most Wanted (ByLine Press, ByLine Chapbook Award), and Please Hold (Encircle Publications, Poetry Chapbook Award) published in April. Nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize, Nelson’s poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Guesthouse, Four Way Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hunger Mountain, New American Writing, Ploughshares, Smartish Pace, Superstition Review, and several anthologies. Two of her poems have been set to music. She holds master’s degrees from the University of Illinois School of Music and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and lives in Federal Way, Washington.

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