Charlotte Innes recently had a poem selected for The Best American Spiritual Writing 2006. She has work forthcoming in The Sewanee Review, The Pinch and Knockout Magazine. She also has published her poems in The Hudson Review, Ekphrasis, The Eleventh Muse and Speechless Magazine. Her awards include The Anne Silver Award for Poetry (2007) sponsored by Speechless Magazine and a First Prize in the Poetry in the Windows V contest (2003) in Los Angeles. She also writes about books and the arts for many publications, including the Los Angeles Times and The Nation. Four of her Nation reviews have been anthologized in Contemporary Literary Criticism. She has taught journalism at the University of Southern California and Columbia University, New York. Currently, she teaches English, journalism and creative writing at Brentwood School, Los Angeles.


The lavender's violence is drying out.
Huge waxy magnolias open wide,
languid, like giant endives deciding
it's uncool to be so tightly wound.

Tonight, a come-hither breeze is jilting
the real world. It's whispering, you will.
A car screeches rubber in the street until
the street is smoking, and the smoke livid

unquiet. Boys are barking and yodeling,
they are exhaling light. The befogged car
floats and chokes for joy. There's no end
to this unwary month's adjectival riot.

Published in The Eleventh Muse 2007


The Road to Nottingham

Oncoming headlights peered like lost children
groping through grey mist. I drove uneasy
up the motorway and grabbed at thoughts:
how can I, padlocked in this puny world

of flesh and bone, hope to corral chance?
Then my friend the philosopher said: reflect
on pillars of cool interstellar gas,
seven thousand light years in length,

incubating stars. Everything earthbound,
you and I, the road, this car, the mist,
every brick in that carwash began
as cosmic dust-every hair, starlight.

So, I said, the unforeseen's a simple
strand, a molecule of light? Then why's
my mind a tank of darting smelts that might
at any moment crash against the glass…

Watch out, he said, our exit's coming up…
Think of astronauts, he said. In space,
blood retreats from feet, organs float.
Matter's all contained-go left-but lightly…

Was that the parking lot? I said. Oh damn,
we missed the turn. He blushed. I backed the car.
Beneath the lights, his face changed. To radiance.
Of course. How fatal would it be to kiss?


Your Gentle Spirit

Thick as the low afternoon cloud
summering on Western ranges,
light as cold winter breath touching
your lips. Come spring, I'll be with you
in drifts of steam over meadows,

in a sweet-smelling curl of smoke
freed from damp wood on cold evenings.
When it snows, dig deep, you'll find me,
in the warmth between hand and glove,
beneath fleece jacket and wool hat.

Taste me in tears. In your cloudbursts
of laughter, hear me. When you think
I'm lost in shadows, dear, I'm not.
Even when you do not know it,
I am here, will be, when you're gone.


Charlotte Innes Moonday poetry reading

© 2007 Charlotte Innes

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