I spent many years walking the deserts and climbing the mountains of Southern California. Now I spend time in the Eastern Forests from Maryland to Vermont and practice woodworking near the Anacostia River. I hold a PhD in Writing from the University of Houston. My poetry collections are The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree 2012) winner of a 2013 Nautilus Award in Poetry, a chapbook, The Language of Birds (Finishing Line 2011) and a forthcoming collection, The Book of Maps. Recent honors include the National Hackney Literary Award in Poetry, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (in Israel), and Potomac Review Prize. My work has appeared in Atlanta Review, Asian Cha and Aesthetica. Currently I work in Washington, DC. and am an associate fiction editor at JMWW. More at: wflantry.com.
My mirror shows I've lost a collar stay:
the fabric's rumpled where it should be straight,
and every tie I own has tiny holes
where tie-tacs held the doubled cloth in place.
Even my cuff links, washed a dozen times
by accident, have lost their turquoise glint,
and we're supposed to be in summer dress
half casual. I'm out of step. I try
through ornament to circumvent controls
imposed by others, to preserve some hint
of who or what I think I bear within,
although all outward semblance would betray
the state of my belief, my private sin.
The belt I bought, it's buckle plated gold,
has grown too tight: I've had to take a drill
and space another notch to span my waist.
Perhaps I should surrender. I've misplaced
even the sullen remnants of my will
to create artifice. It is my fate
that I be circumstantial. Sea and sky
are pure disorder, why should my distress
be different? Appearances unfold:
all outward things mirror our inner crimes—
I cannot hide the lines of my own face.
©2015 W.F. Lantry