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Michael Waters

Michael Waters is the author of many collections of poetry, most recently The Dean of Discipline (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018) and Celestial Joyride (BOA Editions, 2016). He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a professor of English at Monmouth University and lives in New Jersey.

Selected Bibliography

The Dean of Discipline (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018)
Celestial Joyride (BOA Editions, 2016)
Gospel Night (BOA Editions, 2011)
Darling Vulgarity (BOA Editions, 2006)
Parthenopi: New and Selected Poems (BOA Editions, 2001)
Green Ash, Red Maple, Black Gum (BOA Editions, 1997)
Bountiful (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1992)
The Burden Lifters (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1989)
Anniversary of the Air (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1985)
Not Just Any Death (BOA Editions, 1979)

By This Poet


Wedding Dress

That Halloween I wore your wedding dress,
our children spooked & wouldn’t speak for days.
I’d razored taut calves smooth, teased each blown tress,
then—lipsticked, mascaraed, & self-amazed—
shimmied like a starlet on the dance floor.
I’d never felt so sensual before—
Catholic schoolgirl & neighborhood whore.
In bed, dolled up, undone, we fantasized:
we clutched & fused, torn twins who’d been denied.
You were my shy groom.  Love, I was your bride.

White Stork

                                        Ciconia ciconia

Such jazzy arrhythmia, 
                            the white storks' 
Plosive and gorgeous leave-takings suggest 
Oracular utterance where the blurred 
Danube disperses its silts.
                                    Then the red-
Billed, red-legged creatures begin to spiral,
To float among thermals like the souls, wrote
Pythagoras, praising the expansive
Grandeur of black-tipped wings, of dead poets.
Most Eastern cultures would not allow them 
To be struck, not with slung stone or arrow 
Or, later, lead bullet— 
                         birds who have learned, 
While living, to keep their songs to themselves, 
Who return to nests used for centuries, 
Nests built on rooftops, haystacks, telegraph 
Poles, on wooden wagon wheels placed on cold 
Chimneys by peasants who hoped to draw down 
Upon plague-struck villages such winged luck. 

If the body in its failure remains
A nest, if the soul chooses to return…

Yet not one stork has been born in Britain 
Since 1416, the last nest renounced 
When Julian of Norwich, anchoress,
Having exhausted all revelations,
Took earthly dispensation, that final 
Stork assuring, even while vanishing,
"Sin is behovely, but all shall be well."