Lee Sharkey

House of Sorrow, Vessel of Anarchy, I Will Not Name It Except to Say, Golem
October 23, 2020 Sharkey Lee

House of Sorrow, Vessel of Anarchy


Once I made a box to put a man in.
I hung photographs of Earth from space
and galaxies birthing planets.
I cut a window on a garden that drew songbirds.
I looked around, and it was good.

I picked the man up with tweezers, dropped him in.
He rolled off the bed and spilled onto the rug.
Words fell from him; he failed to gather them.
He tried the locks; they would not open.
His cell phone fell and cracked.

I swallowed a shrinking pill and parachuted in.
Small pearls welled in his eyes
for me to wipe away. Lie down beside me,
I offered; the bed was narrow.
A cello touched us skin to skin.

I Will Not Name It Except to Say


that this has happened, is happening

We read each other as lines slip down the page

More than the cardinal’s call
is how she flicks her tail

We have owned little, loved much
We made our hearts a heart with many rooms

We read, we write, we do language
That is how, a mentor tells me, civilizations heal

Daylily pollen seduces by the door
Our children shall feast on the property of heaven



My hands worked clay to fashion a golem.
Truth, said my hands, and painted the word on his forehead.
Breathe, said my hands, and he breathed.
Speak, said my hands, and he spoke.

Why, said my hands. Error, error, he stammered.
Where, asked my hands. In the loins, he answered.
Hands, said my hands. He raised his hands.
Hands, said my hands. He showed his long fingers.
Fortissimo! Piano! my hands said. He shouted. He whispered.
Die, said my hands, erasing one letter. He shriveled and curled.
Nesting, he wept, in your shoulder.

Lee Sharkey was the author of  Walking Backwards (Tupelo, 2016), Calendars of Fire (Tupelo, 2013), and five earlier books of poems, as well as a number of chapbooks.  I Will Not Name It Except to Say, a collection of poems she completed in the last months of her life, will be published by Tupelo in spring 2021. Lee Sharkey died in her home in Portland, Maine, on October 18, 2020.