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Two poems by Lara Payne

The Solitary Light

Fanny Mae Salter

the last woman lighthouse keeper

in the United States

No one knows night as she does.

Except, perhaps you. Adrift.

Fog spirals and a low tone.

Have you, too, been lonely

in a crowd?

Room of voices and the only space

to be safe is in the song. She returns

to the round room.

Circling light. Anchor of night.

Wave against rock. Dawn

the osprey calls the day open.

Take care. One storm will teach you

the limits of your lungs. Creak as the last

ounce of air leaves. Your ribs expand and retract.

That song: wave sung, alluring.

We are caged in ivory, tendon, and a beautiful

blue river. Body, beloved, even until death.

Whisp of sea grass glows rust gold in day’s last light.

Her heart, a room the wind remembers.

ARRs poetica

In DC the metro system

has a few ways of telling us

a train is arriving. My daughter

counts the ways. 1: Lights

flash at our feet and across

the treacherous tracks.

2. A wind picks up

from the tunnel. Stale air

woosh-ing. 3. A squeal

and that other light, singular

barreling. The last light

someone saw, yesterday.

There’s a fourth way

to know. A digital board

tells us minutes

or sometimes:


That ARR

is our favorite.

On Talk Like A Pirate Day

someone always takes

a picture from the Metro.

We place our hands up

into the air, curve

one finger to signal

a hook for a hand.

We say “ARRR.”

Why isn’t there

Talk Like a Poet

Day. Would we

have to rhyme all day

maintain iambic,

meter ourselves?

If I have had any influence

over my students

than no, we wouldn’t

be constrained by rhyme.

How else do you talk like a poet?

Exclaim, wonder

awe. This flower

the one that seems


so large, such a bell

to come from the tiny

starred buds climbing

the rest of the plant.

I stop my bike.

I am alone. All

I see is the furred butt

of the bumblebee

until it comes out

seems to see me

and whirs its wings


Lara Payne lives in Maryland. Once an archeologist, she now teaches writing at the college level, to veterans, and to small children. Her poem “Corn Stand, 10 ears for two dollars” was a winner in the MovingWords Competition and was placed on buses in Arlington, VA. Recent poems have appeared in the Delmarva Review and online with SWWIM Daily.

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