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Lisa C Taylor – Design for a Chaotic World

Profile Taylor LEP&W May 2021

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2021

Lisa C. Taylor is the author of two poetry collections including The Other Side of Longing, a collaboration with Geraldine Mills published by Arlen House, and two poetry chapbooks. She also has two collections of short fiction with Arlen House, most recently, Impossibly Small Spaces. Lisa’s honours include Pushcart nominations in fiction and poetry, residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Willowtail Springs, and Tyrone Guthrie Centre, shortlist designations in the Fish Poetry and Fiction contests in 2020, a Hugo House New Works Fiction Award in 2015, and along with Geraldine Mills, the Elizabeth Shanley Gerson Lecture of Irish Literature at University of Connecticut in 2011. Lisa is the fiction editor for and a regular book reviewer for Mom Egg Review (MER). A recent transplant to a small mountain town in Colorado, Lisa is working on a new collection of poetry for publication in late 2021 or early 2022.

Design for a Chaotic World

Deep dive to a place
without commerce
where rare lifeforms
flock: frill, or tentacle,
singularity of purpose.

The color of the sea found
six meters below the surface:
blue recast as green,
then clear or murky.

Is this the design
for a chastened world?

Bee balm, and aster hold court
near deserted beaches,
while Northern gannets and gulls
swoop amid the spray
for sardines or crabs.

Loved ones lost to storm or tide
hover above a residue of ashes
strewn by sons or granddaughters.

Hazards drowse on mossy rocks
or overhead in mercurial skies,
and wind heaves
its mastery over elements.

Goblin shark and dragonfish,
trap prey,
pioneers of concealment.
Habitual sustenance,
their endgame,

a ministry of focus,
amid the clamor
and muddle
of the world.

The Rule of Threes

Three men on faux leather stools
lean into their beers,
their wide glasses
like women’s mouths.

After two drinks,
a woman twirls her paper parasol
until it snaps,
inferior wood
she says

leading one of the men
in a leather jacket with a chain dangling
almost to his belt
to buy her another,

passion fruit concoction,
ferrying her across the river
of her past
to a Siddhartha infused
enlightenment, papaya
and guava sunlight

Then she opens the door
(which might be the future)
stumbles into city dark,
a razor moon above her,
the pavement below
slick and broken

under three cockeyed
neon stars.


I ignore mating calls
and the thumb
of wind on branches.
Pollen dusts my blouse,
and the earth vibrates.

Lying on a cushion
of grass, I examine an iridescent
leaf beetle and familiar bluet,
insects I do not own
though I’m responsible
for my footprint.

White blossoms perk like ears,
by an ash tree
decked with greenery.

Honeysuckle strangles zinnia.

I consider renaming myself
after noise or despair.

Too much havoc,
too few honeybees.

Six unfamiliar birds trill
in my backyard
and I don’t recognize
the veiled bough
grazing my arm
though I call sunlight
what it is:

an implication.

River Walk, Pandemic

I used to pretend it didn’t matter
if a hiker met my eye,
red-tipped braids like kerchiefs waving
to draw in a stranger’s gaze.

I’m here, he tells me
and I don’t correct him,
clear pebbles with my foot,
circumventing a tree root
that protrudes like a nail.
He doesn’t understand
when it hit me,
the sense of place as transient.

The vellum of landscape
bears a signature I recognize, thrum
under a parchment sky that is poised
to swallow everything I know.

The river, rusty clear,
clouds thin as an old woman’s hair.

A child in yellow boots
holds her father’s hand
while something rustles in the brush.
I recognize that scrape of claws
on decaying leaves
as the child stirs water
with a stick

and the sky goes on
being threadbare blue
and dingy gray.


I believe in bulbs transforming
into tulips, lost dogs
sniffing their way home.

Foxes who raid chicken coops
need to eat too.

I aspire to find purpose
in all living organisms
except hornets or ticks.

The color of algae and lily pads,
transports me to a lake
in a rowboat with rusted oarlocks.

When I sing, I pretend
I can be heard across the sea.
When I dance, I think of swallows.

As a child, I imagined my bicycle
would take me to Canada if I peddled
hard enough.

Things I’ll never do: scuba dive,
parachute, zip line, rappel.
Things I’ll likely do: bike
on a bumpy trail, snorkel, make a meal
for a stranger, love with abandon.

Nature interrupts us with storms
or calm. We don’t deserve its beauty.

I want to untie dogs
waiting outside pubs
or convenience stores.

Uncomfortable places:
MRI machines, doctor’s waiting rooms,
benches outside courtrooms.

Fire is beautiful until it isn’t.
Also stunning and dangerous:
mountain lions, venomous snakes,

Lunar Eclipse

A shadow of wing crossed my field of vision.
Tuesday, night of the lunar eclipse,
I awakened, looked up.
Stars blinked themselves into oblivion.

Tuesday, night of the lunar eclipse
I saw ghost tracks of cars
Stars blinked themselves into oblivion,
A shadow of wing crossed my field of vision.

I saw ghost tracks of cars.
No one whispered or handed me a map.
A shadow of wing crossed my field of vision
as I stood at the window, looking out.

No one whispered or handed me a map
The shortest day, light erased from every surface.
As I stood at the window, looking out
a light snow began to fall.

The shortest day, light erased from every surface.
I awakened, looked up.
A light snow began to fall.
A shadow of a wing crossed my field of vision.

© Lisa C Taylor