Marilyn Kallet

Before | Ode to Late Autumn, Auvillar
February 17, 2016 Kallet Marilyn


Auvillar, November 5



The American poet died of head trauma
after tumbling out her window. Idiot
tried to close the shutters without Mister Long Arm.

The American died of flesh-eating bacteria
after using ancient sponges at the
artist colony kitchen.

The American died of boredom
during a long bilingual
poetry reading at the Galerie.

The American died of hippie hair
at Annie’s chic salon.
The American died of shame

after the once-over
by lycee girls.
The American died of starvation

after French grocers
refused to notice her.
The American expired

waiting for the washing machine,
though she had set it on “Eco-Rapide.”
There will be no services for the American.

There is no rabbi in Auvillar.
All the Jews were killed or hidden
during the war.

That’s no way to end a funny poem,
Dante said.
O you should know, I said,

with your laugh-a-minute
chute to the inferno,
and your narrow stairway

up the gold-tipped road.



  1. Paris, November 13-18


What the Jewish comic
didn’t dream was Bataclan,
blood on rue Bichat,

didn’t fathom bombs.

Police boats, foot
patrols, machine guns
along the jolie Seine.

Notre Dame
not anyone’s this week.
Locked. Metros closed.

“Our flight cancelled!”
Texans complained,
at the sidewalk café,

Rue Monge.
Maybe no way home.
Maybe 9/11, but

All her fears
seem small now,

dated in the wake
of blasts,
129, 129,

130 carillons.
What we have denied

to love
wolf at the rim.

The wolf inside. In.




Ode to Late Autumn, Auvillar
                               (November 4, 2015)

Yellow leaves and green river
Do not add up to song,

Do not console.
But this is not a song about

Not-having. There’s a blackbird
In gold leaves

And the bare top branches
Gleam redder

Than my lipstick.
Bluebirds sweep

Tree to tree.
Something in them knows

What’s coming.
They don’t name it frost.

They don’t moan
About missing you.

What they need they fly toward,
Like me.

If you’ll have me,
We’ll take the long way home.

Marilyn Kallet is Knoxville Poet Laureate, and has published 18 books, including How Our Bodies Learned, The Love That Moves Me, and Packing Light: New and Selected Poems, Black Widow Press. She has translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems and Benjamin Péret’s The Big Game. Dr. Kallet is Professor Emerita at the University of Tennessee. She leads a writing residency for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, in Auvillar, France. She has performed her poems across the United States as well as in France and Poland, as a guest of the U.S. Embassy’s “America Presents” program. Her poetry appeared recently in New Letters and is forthcoming in North American Review’s “Open Space,” and in New Voices, an anthology of contemporary voices on antisemitism.