Eleanor Wilner
"Entering the Labyrinth," an essay on the persona poem.

Eleanor Wilner
Four persona poems: Minos, Ariadne, Daedalus, and The Minotaur.


This marks an author's first online publication Michelle Boisseau

This marks an author's first online publication Annie Boutelle
Christine Casson
This marks an author's first online publication Carolyn Creedon
Claudia Emerson
Daisy Fried
Diane Gilliam
Shadab Zeest Hashmi
Kathleen Jesme
Ilya Kaminsky
Marilyn Krysl
David Lee
Gary Copeland Lilley
Maurice Manning
Alicia Ostriker
Alicia Jo Rabins
Tim Seibles
This marks an author's first online publication Heidy Steidlmayer
Book Review
"Tourist in Hell" by Eleanor Wilner—Book Review, by David Rigsbee.

Claudia Emerson

Claudia Emerson's four books, Pharaoh, Pharaoh, Pinion, An Elegy, Late Wife, and Figure Studies, are all from LSU Press. Late Wife won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Emerson has been awarded fellowships from the NEA, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and a Witter Bynner fellowship. She is a Professor of English at the University Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Self-Elegy: Rural Letter Carrier    

For a brief while, the eighty-six miles gave some
illusion of travel, the seasons' slow
cycling part of it—the sky moving
from cloud to clearing, fields turned under
or crowded with corn, crows, soybeans, tobacco,
snow. But the road did not change, finally—
not the straight stretches, or rain-fretted curves,
the relentless echo of gravel-ping, the hushing
of dust, mud-hiss and skunk-musk. The houses
went down over time, the men dying away,
then widows from the then-empty places,
their children in trailers in the yards with tires
on the roofs to hold them down. And the names
on the mailboxes and the ones in the ragged graveyards
were and are the same. Some people still hang
their clothes from barbwire fences to dry,
and as long as I have been driving this route
delivering her check, one old woman
still hides behind the trunk of a sycamore
in her yard until I drive off again. Some days,
I stop at the country store where a few bottles
of soda float like dead fish in the drinkbox,
where men check deer and turkeys and buy bait,
where no one knows any news but of who died.
It only takes my Sunday absence for a wren
or sparrow to begin a nest in a mailbox
forgotten open, or a hornet to finish one
that I find hanging down like a gray wattle
or venomous goiter from the throat. They say
there won't be letters anymore, what with people
getting news through the air, and money
just numbers on a screen that add up to a worse
nothing, stored in a machine somewhere—all
of it invisible and flying reckless,
swarmless as thoughts never meant to be spoken,
spoken. I have driven through enough lonely
hours to wish sometimes I passed by them
instead, like estranged houses to which I might
return some distant day, not to deliver
this day's worries and ordinary temptations—
but the letter addressed in a hand so far away,
so familiar, it needs no other understanding,
having found in me its last and only way.



© 2010 The Cortland Review