ISSUE SIX
February 1999

Terry Savoie


THE CORTLAND REVIEW

INTERVIEWS
 
Henry Taylor

POETRY
 
Mark Bibbins
  Sharon Cumberland
  Philip Dacey
  Daniela Gioseffi
  Brent Goodman
  Mark Halperin
  Ben Howard
  Stellasue Lee
  Linda Lerner
  John McKernan
  DeWayne Rail
  David Rigsbee
  Peter Robinson
 
Terry Savoie
  Joseph Stanton
  Mary Winters

REVIEWS
 
David Grayson

TRANSLATIONS
 
Lloyd Schwartz

FICTION
 
Rosa Shand
  Daniela Gioseffi

Terry Savoie Terry Savoie's work has appeared in more than eighty-five literary journals, anthologies, and small press publications including American Poetry Review, Chelsea, The Iowa Review, The Sonora Review, Many Mountains Moving, and Poetry
Prayer to Simone Weil    Read Along with the Author



    "...even saints have to eat to get strength."
                     Judas in The Last Temptation of Christ


Death stinks, no matter how much it's made up.
Mademoiselle, for whom are you waiting,

dressed to kill like that in those discarded,
dead-man's boots & boxy, camouflage fatigues?

The whitecapped combers clap frantically up
against several incoming freighters, & the harbor's

thick with the outlandish, foreign tongues of refugees
fleeing that Nazi soullessness pouring in around them

from the north.  And yet, there you are, huddled like a wet
cat on the quay in Marseilles in the spring of '41, absolutely

(perfectly?) motionless.  Could it be that this century's
sins have got you down, or are you simply beginning

to construct a scaffolding of ideas to prop up against
that facade, your death, you're building?  Go, climb

to the top & you will find nothing more there than a steady
drizzle as though you were suddenly awash in the middle

of a bowl of cold fish soup.  How you struggle to keep afloat
with all the seriousness of a wide-eyed flounder, unsynogogued,

as your prayers reach out toward heaven extolling Beauty
that is this world's but refuses to be totally consumed.

Tell me, is it simply a sneer that separates
the saint from the suicide?  All that's left to eat

are our words.  In the end each of us dies too soon,
Simone, & one's death never seems quite enough.

 



Letter to the Draft Board    Read Along with the Author


On the Good Friday afternoon
I returned home to tell my father how
I refused to fight in his generation’s dirty,

little war, I thought the news would nearly kill
him, but he didn’t say a word, just looked
with sadness toward my mother as if

to say it must be all her fault, this trouble
that walked into their house.  She was the one
who raised this boy who hadn’t learned simple duty

to his country or his family.  Then I asked him
to write a letter for me to my draft board.
He, heavy, sighed, this man with only eight

years education but a life full of duty
& factory sweat, a man who had never written
a letter to anyone, shamed by the words

he didn’t know & the pens that wouldn’t do
what he asked them to do.
On Holy Saturday he held his silence,

but Easter Sunday before Mass, his letter rested on
the kitchen table, sealed inside an envelope.
Sure, I could read it if I wanted, he said, but that meant

tearing the seal.  When I ripped it open, what
was in there tore out my heart.  "I give you
a good boy, an honest boy who would never do

anybody a hurt, a boy who grew up in a good home.
I taught him always to do the right thing.  He should never
be in this war.  War for him will not be good.

I know.  I fought in a war, and this is my boy."
Not once did he say that he wished
I had not been born.  Not once.

 



Sonnet    Read Along with the Author


Although I haven't seen
the brown boathouse
at the bottom of Suicide Hill
on Lake Beulah's east bay
for the better part of thirty years
& its bricks & benches
may have been carted off
for salvage years ago,
the boys are still heard snapping
towels & cursing one another
while a half-dozen wooden row
boats bounce to the wakes,
creaking, creaking.  This
is how I know I'm still alive.

 



Sleep, Gods, the Night Is Long    Read Along with the Author


How marvelous it is to know
the light by what is not

light & to know darkness
as if we were forever
married.

When autumn arrives,
there's talk
of death & loss as though we do not

see the dampened color, rusts & muds,
in waves falling.
It's only in this death, it seems,

that we recognize what might
have been from what's not.

 

 

Terry Savoie: Poetry
Copyright 1999 The Cortland Review Issue SixThe Cortland Review