Lisa Russ Spaar

Puritan Watc, Yonder and Birthday
April 24, 2024 Spaar Lisa Russ

Puritan Watch


Longitude was the great mystery
of the age, all those galleons


coursing the seas in parallels,
& of course a clock is not a human heart,


nor did those voyagers hide
even simple, plain-case miniatures,


pewter oval pieces, in their pockets,
finding what ways they could


by dead reckoning, rafts of matted grass,
monitors of sun and moon,


cincture of cinnabar brush & dusk
cinching a stumped field.


I know a clock is not a human, heart-
driven and mapped by blue roads


within.  That first soiled ocean passage,
then strictures of frost—of hunger— .


How measure such fear-become-religion?
Tonight, I’ll push time’s hands


back, but tomorrow will still rise in dark
& know the clock is not my heart.


I see it there, over emptied trees,
beside the tarnished moon in wane;


& though she’s an “evening object” now,
my pilgrim Venus wakes at dawn—for you—





Within sight but not yet
near, old word for as far as it gets—


as in way beyond this blue sashay
of horizon.   Nearer, I should say,


is our orison: us.  But also
out of sight a while, for now, it’s true.


“While” being also Old English.
A space of time.  A rest.


Restive, restless, though a wile
is a trick, & what are miles


but time upended?  As for the press,
the thrum of blood through flesh,


what’s that to death?  We know, we know,
as over its edge we go—





I want much more than this provincial life . . .


Disney’s Beauty & the Beast


At every window, a tiger eye winks—
tawny & scalloped, scarlet with brink,


the sun chatoyant & metamorphic
behind evergreens that emerald, then silver quickly


in wind, changeable as napped velvet.
Your day calls you outside and into it,


season of broom-shocks, cinnamon sticks, gourds.
Green spider in a pail.  Frost-whiskered schoolyard.


Season, now & forevermore, of you, tramping
in pink boots the leaf-tatter, acorns.  Your song’s


the future toward which you run,
swinging a red scarf above your head, little galleon.


Ahead, the mysterious thicket ticks, face of a postcard, a clock.
My prayer for you is what’s written on the back.

Lisa Russ Spaar is the author/editor of over ten poetry collections and anthologies. Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Award, and the Library of Virginia Poetry Prize. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She is a professor at the University of Virginia.