Three Poems

by Lawrence Cottrell (May 2022)

Sailboats in Wollenbewegten Water, Egon Schiele, 1907


The Wheel

I would stay awhile, be content in doldrums’ latitudes, the
Sun glassy-eyed lord of placid sea, fire fixed upon equator…
But ropes grow taut to canvas’ pouting, sails furled unfurl
The wheel, to starboard, larboard turned, steers always
_____toward infinity…
Groans brig up heaves and through, time breaks o’er souls
_____in ferine howl.
A lookout shouts wide-eyed alarm, whose voice, bestrid ill
_____cyclone’s wind, flings down the mast as

_____men! men! horizon’s end!

Na night na day na saint na sin; na merry-go-round, na
_____Cheshire grin—

_____na love to swathe the lonely in—

_____too soon to lose, to late to win—


_____men! men! horizon’s end!


Two Old Hauntings

We’ve long since told our stories -to each other—or
_____revealed anyway which things were fit to hear,
Have arrived at silences and knee pattings and repetition,
Affections ripened to a few griefs unuttered, gratuitous
Learned to rub along together, become moorages in
_____fortune’s gales…
Like a play one loves, having come to know each page of

_____each euphony and discordance,

__________every costume change.

We act in an empty odeum, no applause save our own, two
_____old hauntings of the same ghost light,
Players still in this vaudeville house of shadows, caches of
_____ingénue and swain hitting marks…

_____not art for art’s sake,

__________but for the saving—



…a usual February of rain, sleet, snow, a season weeping to
_____the lees…

_____January’s peroration.

Northers moan on the posts, ungentle winds from
_____Saskatoon scuff frozen puddles;
Froward frosts burn tropic visions, and yard’s choirs don’t
_____hum yet their jonquil song;
No puss paws cling to switches, no trumpets flourish o’er
_____time’s laconic noon…


Hearts beat soft tattoos down emptied vales in listless
Probings of the fuscous, cold-eyed realm of agèd winter…
Seek notus’ sifting through a wood, chimeric demijohns
_____holding dionysian rhythms, daffodil wine…
_____some meadow’s margin

__________fit to wear a spring,

_____some chiseled line grown vague in resurrection—


Table of Contents


Lawrence Cottrell has lived in West Virginia, mostly, preferring to dwell among good people, in a place where change is an unloved orphan. He has a BA from West Virginia State University and attended several graduate schools, leaving each finally to walk mist-hewn hollers and prowl wind-blasted ridges, to be where valleys can be spanned by two arms and a broom handle, and noons aren’t quite sure of themselves. His poems have appeared in The LyricAppalachian HeritageGood Foot and Grab-a-Nickel, among others. His work is in the celebrated anthology Wild Sweet Notes: Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry 1950-1999. He blooms presently at a bend of Elk River’s meander.

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