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Mary Fitzpatrick is a fourth-generation Angeleno, works as a communications manager in a large corporation, and holds a BA from UC Santa Cruz and an MFA from UMass Amherst. Her poetry career is divided in two parts, separated by 17 years. In Part II, her poems have been featured in Atlanta Review and North American Review as contest finalists, have been finalists in the 2010 Beyond Baroque and Inkwell Poetry Contests, and have been published in journals, including Agenda (UK), The Dos Passos Review, ASKEW, The Georgetown Review, and on-line by Writers at Work (L.A.).

FACTORY GIRL – A LETTER

Dear Brother,
In my job I use
what they call the volmer —
tiny torch     open and close
stitching with a little syringe of light
white     as a drop     of sun.     I try
not to look        but two white spots
burn at the back of my eyes.

            In one —    all the other
jobs I’ve had —  inn rooms
                                   cleaning up
someone else’s stain.
         In the other    years
of nearly starving on the farm
never     enough, no     wheels, no
way to town.    

                        Between
these two      white spots     the men
who wanted something              and me
just trying to make it work.   
                                               
                               Possession
implies something remains
but want is all it is.
                                            Dear Brother,
                                                    in little squeezes of light,
that whisper and cut     
are months and years     my history
turned white
in this brazier     that captures and holds,
this chamber
                        where everything
                                                            hardens and glows.

published in The Dos Passos Review
Vol.6, No.2   2009

 

BASHO’S DEATH

not turning, standing still
the snow turning his black hair white
suspended in a bronze gong’s
chime not turning
phrases in his mind but letting the notes alight
and write their own lines; seasons turn; standing
in his summer hut
all night grasshoppers churn their tune
Basho writes by the harvest moon’s
light; then
not standing still but turning
on highest mountain top he sees
the red carp sun straddle
east and west   turning to catch
its either light standing
in Fuji’s red snow while tiny boats
drift below; when the snows melt turning
his muddy feet to riverbanks / plum blossoms
turning in the warm breezes light
with spring, Basho not answering
the call to another cup of plum
wine Basho stands unsteady in a tiny boat,
turns it to moon’s broad reflection on the pond
leaning over to kiss it and he’s gone

published in Poet & Critic
Vol. XIII, No. 3   1982

 

SWEET ARE THE USES OF ADVERSITY

            Sweet are the uses of adversity
            Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
            Wears yet a precious jewel in its head.
                                                -- William Shakespeare

Sweet are the uses of adversity — the office
culture I have grown around, the
strategic plan, draft document, political
message meant to motivate — a skill,
a skein of words I have grown
as an appendage, developed skin around.

Sweet are the uses of adversity — provide
Jesuit, Franciscan, community, university:
the education I had to my children.

Sweet are the uses of adversity — the mate
for twenty years, a skein
of months, laughter, jokes, sorrow, bitterness between us and I
have pits and fissures and blooms and growth
I’ve grown skin around to stay.

Sweet are the uses of adversity: the modern
whizz, car chase, crammed calendar, lack of peace, the pace
a price to pay for all we have — far from want, we will not starve.

Sweet are the uses of adversity as used
by the hopeful who alit
at Jamestown, Plymouth, any yard
where they planted food and buried
their young, their many dead. A certain determination
swelled; they stayed. And I
— another pair of hands, another hauler
of the great barge forward —
see the head of land, hear sloshing waves,
know my part of the coarse, warty flesh, intent
on that jewel glint.

published in Agenda
Vol. 41. Nos. 3-4 (double issue)
Winter 2005

Mary Fitzpatrick
2011Mary Fitzpatrick
 

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