Yellow Mama Archives II

Richard Allen Taylor

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Atlas Yearns for Retirement

 

by Richard Allen Taylor

                  

Zeus sentenced me to hold up the sky, penance for my rebellion.

Not satisfied, mortals added the world to my burden.

 

A god who willingly accepts responsibility, I bear the globe

without rancor. I have a reputation, not merely a planet, to uphold.

 

Men named an ocean after me, sculpted my image with a sphere

on my shoulders. So there it stays. In many places, crowds marvel

 

at my likeness: in Naples, Melbourne, Rockefeller Center. I appear

on the covers of map books in all major libraries and bookstores.

 

Online vendors offer a splendid variety of figurines and other

artistic renderings of me.

 

I hoped my load would lighten, as war and cruelty abated.

It grew heavier. After rotator cuff surgery, I shifted all the weight

 

to one shoulder. I keep turning the world to keep the hot spots—

Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Ukraine, Somalia—from burning

 

my neck. Finding a suitable volunteer to replace me has gone

nowhere. Many crave the glory, but no one wants the work. 



Frown

 

by Richard Allen Taylor

 

Your influence is everywhere, like gravity

tugging at a cloud. You insist on appearing

for every missed train or mass murder.

No tragedy big or small can do without you.

 

Upside-down lemon wedge, you don’t even try

to be radiant, but slip easily into radiation,

with a half-life of a hundred anchors.

You pull others into your swirling drain.

 

Often seen abandoned in cold streets, in rooms

shrouded with closed curtains, you have not yet

spoken of your losses. You keep your silence

like taut lips beneath drooping mustaches.  




Why is the Sky Cerulean?

 

by Richard Allen Taylor

 

It’s complicated. When I was your age, we called

this color (referring to the hue of clear April air)

sky blue, but as poets aged, they longed for a new,

 

less ordinary blue, and called it cerulean, replacing

one cliché with another. But we always knew

sky could be something else, gray as a dirty

 

vacuum cleaner bag, or maybe onyx or obsidian

at midnight. At day’s end, you might see a sky streaked

with rose-colored feathers. Always pulling down shades,

 

we found inspiration from automobiles, whose

blues were named by marketing departments:

Aegean, Nitrous, Artic. Blue Candy Metallic

 

sounded nice but couldn’t displace sky blue. For more,

we found crayons labelled Pacific Blue, Denim, Wild Blue

Yonder, Robin’s Egg, Cobalt, and Cornflower.

 

If you’ll step into the bathroom, I’ll introduce you

to my personal suggestions for blue sky names:

Shower Curtain Blue, Damp Towel Blue and

 

my favorite, Shaggy Toilet Seat Cover Blue. But

none of them got enough votes. So, don’t blame me,

but that’s why the sky is cerulean.

Richard Allen Taylor is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Letters to Karen Carpenter and Other Poems (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2023). His poems, articles and reviews have appeared in Rattle, Comstock Review, and Aeolian Harp, among others. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Taylor formerly served as review editor for The Main Street Rag and co-editor of Kakalak. After retiring from his business career, he earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte and now resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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