Liz Grisaru

Three Poems – Liz Grisaru

Poets in a Bar

I saw some poets in a bar after work;
empty glasses said they had been hours
and you knew it was hard work they came from
by the road grit in the creases of a jacket sleeve,
another’s inside out sweatshirt stains,
the streaky varnish of dry sweat.

Also some poets wore heavy boots
and thick wide belts clipped to hanging tools
like harnesses jangling with bits and rings:
tools of their trades, some so massive
only a corn-bred giant might wield them;
other instruments so sensitive,
only the delicate can calibrate them.
That is, if you don’t go blind trying
or end up with a mangled hand or limb.

They weren’t loud customers; work and drink had taken
the smack out of them. They sat assembled
thirsting for restoration like any working stiff
facing the next day’s toil: backs curved toward the bar rail,
resting elbows showing patches. Companionable,
spent, no flashy Marlowes tempting death,
only poets in a bar after work.


On Watch

When weary, that is to say, crushed flat
under the weight of daily toil, I sit
and watch the cat, that kingly prick,
whose felted steps decide the fate
of curving time, descend the deck
to make his rounds around the yard.
Happy dictator, he knows his weapons
and his foes; is not afraid of those
that might invade the patio. He ignores
the nervous birds, even flaunts their stress,
caracoles wantonly on the stones.
What matters it to you, he says, if one bird live or die
when all is now, now is all, and I
beneath the adoring sun sheathe eternity in my paws?


After the Virus

On the day the plague lifts
her black skirts and passes over
farm and church, dark concert hall,
firehouse, beach shack, shopping mall

something stirring indeep shifts:
a sideways lurch, a stumble step,
like a sleeper shocked awake
falling from a dreamscape cliff.

On the day we watch her back
shrink to the black horizon line,
statesman, pauper, poet wait
for the same stirring nameless shape

uncoiling tendrils within the earth
hidden from the shrieking wind
that chases out the scent of plague
and rattles doorways on their hinges.

On that day strange things emerge:
sleepers straining to escape a dream
pin pricks in the musty loam
a million pale and tender cells.


Liz Grisaru is a New York State employee, working on renewable energy policy among other things, co-parent of two kids who are emerging into adulthood, a transplanted New Yorker originally from Massachusetts, Liz used to write a lot but then got distracted. COVID brought her back into poetry after many years away. She likes meter and rhyme and feels a little lost without it. She divides her time between Albany and Maine, where she lives in a yellow house on top of a hill.

2 thoughts on “Three Poems – Liz Grisaru”

  1. Lisa, your work is beautiful. I don’t usually like modern poetry but you say true things so well, with a suggestion of rhythm and a hint of rhyme. Carol

  2. I have a new favorite poet. I thought to quote some of the more marvelous lines, but there are too many. Here:
    Happy dictator!…
    What matters it to you, he says, if one bird live or die
    when all is now, now is all, and I
    beneath the adoring sun sheathe eternity in my paws?

    Very fine work! Sheathe eternity! Gosh.

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