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Claudia Gary

the poet

Claudia Gary is a three-time finalist for the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and a 2013 semi-finalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in such journals as American Arts Quarterly, Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle Journal of Poetry, Antiphon and many more. Her work has also been widely anthologised: in Villanelles, The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology, and Love Affairs at the Villa Nelle. Claudia is a health science writer for, a composer of art songs and chamber music, and an online instructor of Villanelle, Sonnet, Meter and other topics at The Writer’s Center.

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the poems

Blues Manqué

00:00 / 01:15

I've suffered, but I can't quite sing the blues.
My troubles are occasional, not chronic.
My angst is true, but not the kind you'd use

against the everyday, to find or lose
your heart. My chords are major and harmonic.
I've suffered, but I don't dare sing the blues.

Any attempt would probably amuse,
but not in ways your songs have made iconic.
Your angst is true, while mine's nothing to use

in threatening to blow a major fuse
or skip to Paris on the supersonic.
I've not suffered enough to sing the blues.

Saying I have is asking for a bruise.
You'll throw tomatoes. They'll be hydroponic.
This angst is true, but nothing I can use

to make you say mine is the pain you'd choose.
The plates I spin are porcelain, not tectonic.
I suffer from a need to sing the blues
with insufficient angst, too kind to use.

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00:00 / 00:54

Do me a favor: when you go outside,
look over toward the harbor. If you squint
you'll see it – or you won't – but it can't hide
from sun, setting or rising. There's a hint,
a remnant where a spangled patch embroidered
above the rosy contrails of the dawn
still waves, as if the stars had reconnoitered
their sister light.
                            Why do I ramble on?
There was a battle once to tear away
that piece of cloth and burn it while we slept.
We triumphed – but the gremlins are at play,
sowing confusion as to what we've kept
and what we're losing now unless we save
more than a recollection of the brave.

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The Reopening

00:00 / 01:40

COVID’s next door and quiche is in the oven.
Not even trying to be nonchalant,
I listen to the news, learn what’s been proven

and what, so far, has not; see who can govern
and who can barely read. All that I want
with COVID next door and quiche in the oven

is to keep breathing, not become a sloven,
somehow remain in a creative slant.
I listen to the news, learn what is proven,

miss more the ones I miss, keep clothing woven
or cut it up for masks. (Am I still gaunt?)
COVID’s next door and quiche is in the oven.

Now sirens wail, although few cars are moving
through the abundant spring whose flowers flaunt
and glisten. In the news, it’s being proven:

For each nation and state, northern and southern,
actions reopen, inactions may haunt
reopening the door. Quiche in the oven,
I listen to the news COVID has proven.

       Epilogue ...

    What’s a Virus to Do?

       A quarantine to mope in?
       Corona doesn’t buy it.
       What can it put its hope in
       with this starvation diet?
       But wait: they scream “Reopen,”
       and at long last—a riot!

Publishing credits

Blues Manqué: Angle Journal of Poetry

Anthem: Measure

The Reopening: Snakeskin (Issue 275) / What's a Virus to Do?:

  The Asses of Parnassus

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