Gail White–Featured Poet



Edna Millay’s Goldfish

The world stands out on either side,
No wider than the bowl is wide.
Above the world is stretched the sky,
No higher than the water’s high.

The fish that bears a valiant heart
Can push the glassy walls apart,
And with a visionary soul
Beholds Atlantis in his bowl.

But he whose heart is parched and spare,
Even in water gasps for air.
And he whose soul is thin and flat
Is candy for the family cat.


Note with a Potted Plant

I’m sorry that my dog destroyed your parka
When you innocently laid it on the bed.
He couldn’t get enough
Of the flying down and fluff.
He looks just like a snowman that can shed.

I’m sorry that my dog destroyed your parka.
I’ve told him that he ought to feel  ashamed.
Still, it was a lot of fun—
Just a parka hit-and-run—
And it’s hard to make him think he should be blamed.

I’m sorry that my dog destroyed your parka.
I’ve spoken to him sternly of my views.
He was guilty, and as such
He regrets it very much—
And feels awful about peeing on your shoes.


The Panda

The panda bear was never meant
to flourish on this continent.
At best it can digest a few
green shoots of succulent bamboo.
Its young are born so very small
it ought to be marsupial.
An animal so plainly jinxed
should properly have been extinct,
yet no fund-raising propaganda
works half as well as “SAVE THE PANDA!”

Why?  Because we can’t resist
this furry, fat contortionist
whose two heart-melting blackened eyes
would win the Hallmark Cuteness Prize.

The moral is: If you’ve a cause
for which you need the world’s applause
and pots of cash, or all is lost—
be cute. Be cute at any cost.


The Bourgeois Bohemian

Have you seen my gourmet kitchen,
my expansive SUV,
the eclectic ethnic trappings
that proclaim the latest Me?

Have you seen my new religion
for the future and beyond,
or my trendy simple lifestyle
suitable for Walden Pond?

Have you seen my liposuction
and my new prosthetic knee?
Would you like to see the picture
that grows old instead of me?

Trips to Europe are so Nineties—
I’ve been camping on the Nile.
Is consumerism shallow?
Not if we consume with style!


The Librarian Wishes She Had Lived in the 1920s

That was the life: bobbed hair and bathtub gin,
women who smoked and shocked the bourgeoisie
by living with their lovers—not “in sin”
but just in honest camaraderie.

Dorothy Parker held her own with men
at the Algonquin and in print or bed.
Edna Millay took drugs and lovers—then
went home to drain the sonnets from her head.

But I was born in nineteen-forty-five
when girls were good and children followed rules.
I learned the tricks I needed to survive,
and made a life of buying books for fools.

No gazer pierces my façade and sees
the wild young flapper, skirts above her knees.


Lovers, to Bed

(Watteau’s The Embarkation for Cythera)

You don’t fool me, my good Watteau,
I know where these fine folks will go.
After their charming fête champêtre,
they’re heading straight for bed—you betcha.

Cythera’s isle is veiled in mist,
but when the courting pairs have kissed,
these gentleman will discompose
their ladies’ 18th-century clothes.

The virgin lingering on the shore,
once over, soon looks back no more.
She parts her lips like melon halves,
draws creamy stockings from her calves
and drops them like a splash of milk
across her dress of cerise silk.

But delicacy intervenes
between my pen and later scenes.
Even Watteau was not so rude
to show us lovers in the nude.
A glance, a smile are all he gives
to hint at love’s affirmatives.
What happens when affairs go well,
the painter knows—but will not tell.

(“The Bourgeois Bohemian” was previously published in The Formalist; “Edna Millay’s Goldfish” and “The Librarian Wishes She Had Lived in the 1920s” appeared in Iambs and Trochees.)

Gail White has edited three anthologies and published three books of poetry; Easy Marks is still available from Amazon. She is widely published in journals receptive to formal poetry, including Measure, Raintown Review, First Things, and Mezzo Cammin, and in anthologies such as Villanelles and Killer Verse, both from Pocket Poets. Her latest chapbook is Sonnets in a Hostile World (White Violet Press). Gail received the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award for 2012. She lives with her husband and three cats in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.