Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lytton Bell Joins the Brontës and Galatea on a "Moon Boat"

Lytton Bell has published five books: A Path before Winter (1998), The Book of Chaps (2002), Nectar (2011), Poetica Erotica, volume one (2012), and Body Image (2013). She has won seven poetry contests and been the featured reader at many California literary venues.  Her work has appeared in many publications.  As a teenager, Lytton won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, where she studied with Deb Burnham and the late Len Roberts.  Lytton graduated magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College.  Contact her at

Moon's First Voyage,
W. Heath Robinson, 1916

                  Moon Boat
Don’t hitch your wagon to that star!
Climb on and let’s row this glowing sliver of moon
through a shimmering lake of milky starlight
Lean your back against this cratered curve
Pull these oars made from beams of purest moonlight
Did you feel us glide between Saturn’s rainbow rings?
If we come to rest near the brimming cup
of the Big Dipper
Let’s dive out for a quick bath
and a peek at whatever Orion keeps hidden
beneath his stiff scabbard
Then board our luminous vessel again
though we have no map or compass
no sails, no provisions
and nowhere to be
except here

Galatean Scream

Pygmalion and Galatea,
Jean-Leon Gerome, 1890
I’ve become a master at
standing still
at math in the head
and triangulating even at
vast distances, in the dark

overtake me with a blast of wind
giggling dangerously
slicing through the heart of my sleepless imaginings
promising daybreak
crumbling this immense solitude
digging open trenches of buried sunbeam that
crest over the ridge of blue silence as our
senses speak
I am only alive where you touch me

How to be Charlotte Brontë

The Bronte Sisters,
Branwell Bronte, 1834
Desire more worldly experience than you possess
Never settle for knitting stockings, making puddings
playing on the piano or embroidering bags

Tear meat with your teeth
Write less like a man than a fallen seraph
with a message from the eternal throne

Find a pilot in your seducer
Go down in love

Listen to the bustle of the busy world, towns
regions brimming with life you sense but never see
Hear them singing to you, ringing your cranial bell

Let your heart heave with exultant movement
Expand with life; open your inward ear to a tale without end
a tale you create and perpetually narrate
tempered in an actual flame

Abandon visionary woe
Grasp mortal happiness, even when it sinks
sharp small animal mouths into your skin
Even if you must blacken yourself out of Eden’s family portrait

Sit quietly with apparitions, near the window
in the parlor beside the charred Horse Chestnut tree

Let ghosts probe you with hands colder than wind
Want them

Don’t ever go to bed while sunrise enfolds moonset
Cloak naked feet beneath your long dress
the purple one that bares
your tattered hands

And when the long night cracks open at last
like a raw egg across a plate of sky

let the dawn come in you so hard that
you know it is the first time
daylight ever really mattered

(This poem was first published in Convergence, Summer 2004 

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