Three Poems by Jane Yolen

By Jane Yolen

” I am 81. Perhaps in the current crisis, that is all that needs to be said. I am 81. Good innings, you might think. Lots of my poems, stories, books are out there. A good marriage, three children six grandkids. And now, 15 years after my husband’s death, a fiancé—a man I dated in college 62 years ago. But being human, of course we all want more. So I sent the poems off to your new magazine, delighted to have them taken (and no! not everything I write is accepted) and in the face of this pandemic, sheltered in place with the new love of my life, I say what our family always says during disasters: Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Dance in the house, phone a friend, make chocolate chip cookies, write a new poem.”—Jane Yolen

Finishing a Poem | Walking Through Time | Escaping Bonn

Finishing a Poem

“A poem is never finished, but abandoned.”
–Paul Valery

How many have I abandoned today?
Like Napoleon at Waterloo,
Hitler in his bunker,
the Scots at the gates of London,
I abandon the same poems,
over and over and over again,
leaving them in the trenches,

When I find them years later
in the mind’s La Brea,
I resurrect and polish
the bits of bone and ivory
till they shine like the sun
and speak the truth.
Not quite Dickinson in her white dress.
Not quite Whitman in his expansions.
Not quite Valery in his protestations,
or Yeats hymning the revolution.
But at least a bit better than before.

Walking Through Time

Wars and buildings,
such insubstantial concepts,
except to the people
who walk through them in time.
Bullet-ridden bodies of soldiers
like the broken hands of builders,
mere writing prompts.
We hold facts loosely,
but tales are the only truth
that lives on.
Stone bleeds.
People become extinct, indistinct.
The world turns ninety degrees.
Another building, another war.

Escaping Bonn

Sometimes a boy, a girl,
with too much imagination
or too much despair,
looks for an escape,
a bolt hole, digs a tunnel,
finds a dot, an opening,
a moment in time.
Takes it, shapes it,
 big enough for one,
too small for another.
There is an odd safety in retreat.

A miracle to manage.
It is not how you get out that matters.
It is what you do next.

—for Herr Beethoven

Finishing a Poem | Walking Through Time | Escaping Bonn