This Week In Poetry

I found the poem that moved me this week while catching up with a stack of New Yorkers. This brief poem by Michael Longley made me cry and gave me goosebumps. I find it beautiful and heartbreaking. I think Longley is a magician who works with words. I keep rereading his poem to see how he conjured in me such deep yearning and sadness. The image is courtesy of Deviant Art.


Inauspicious between headstones

On Angel Hill, wintry love

Tokens for Murdo, Alistair,

Duncan, home from the trenches,

Back in Balmacara and Kyle,

Cameronians, Gordon Highlanders

Clambering on hands and knees

Up the steep path to this graveyard

The snowdrops whiten, green-

Hemmed frost-piercers, buttonhole

Or posy, Candlemas bells

For soldiers who come here on leave

And rest against rusty railings

Like out-of-breath pallbearers.


Michael Longley




Where is Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellenbogen she said as we motored down the Long Island Expressway and I said

where is it written that I have to answer your crazy questions and she said

where did I put my makeup purse and black mascara and I said

where did I go wrong in life that I have to continually listen to a woman talking to herself and she said

where is the pretzel stick that I gave you to save for me this morning and I said

where is the nearest insane asylum I can drive you to, to get you treated and she said

where do you get off talking to me like that and I said

where do you think you are, in a chauffeured limo with a driver who will cater to your every whim and she said

where can I hit you that will leave no marks and not cause us to crash and I said

where are the quarters that I left in the glove compartment to pay the tolls and she said

where oh where have his little coins gone oh where oh where can they be and I said

where they are is where I put them unless someone placed them somewhere else and she said

where do you think that would be Sherlock and I said

where do you think a person who doesn’t care about taking things and not replacing them would put the money and she said

where the hell are we and I said

where we have always been and she said

where is that and I said

where that is, is for me to know and you to find out and she said

where is the next rest stop I need to get out of the car and I said

where can a guy go to get some peace around here and she said

where there’s no human beings around like Mars and I said

where did we go off the rails on this trip and she said

where we went off was when we met ten years ago and I said

where do you think you’ll be ten years from now and she said

where I can wake up happy and not be hassled by you and I said

where exactly do you think that would be and she said

Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellenbogen by the sea.


Martin H. Levinson

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015
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