*Featured Poet: Bart Edelman


The lobsterman has few qualms,
Concerning the state of his life.
He knows the lethal trap
His wife has set for him—
How ironic it all seems.
Like his father before him,
And his grandfather, as well,
He’s long accepted this chosen trade—
Work from which he does not shirk.

Early each morning his day begins.
He prepares the wooden pots,
Carefully maintaining them to allow
The maximum capacity possible.
As he breaks away from shore,
He sings the song he was taught:
A lobster, a lobster, a lobster,
A lobster I must be,
If not for the hope of tomorrow,
If not for the love of the sea.

Late afternoon, exhaustion arrives.
He checks the crates and hopes
There is enough of a haul
To make it worth his while.
When he finally reaches home,
She has dinner ready for him—
But is fast asleep in the bed
They share through loneliness.
He eats by silent candlelight,
Awaiting his remaining fate.


You had to know Erasmus,
To get the get of him,
My mother would often say.
He was an old, large, black dog,
By the time I came along—
What with three older brothers
Who chased him, unmercifully,
Through the plentiful thickets,
Surrounding our house outside the swamps,
Comprising Teaneck, at that time.
I think when he saw me
He realized, he was, happily,
In for a rather easy time of it
And would lie for hours at my feet,
Dreaming of other dogs – or what not.

While my questionable social disorder—
Or any number of other maladies—
Limited my close friendships,
Erasmus constantly tailed me,
Always treating me non-judgmentally,
As if I were king of the universe.
It was only in his untimely passing—
He chased a car that stopped
When he made contact with it—
I felt grief for the first time 
And deeply languished in it,
For what seemed to be an eternity.
Now, I still desire unconditional love,
But the mere thought of Erasmus,
Barking to his heart’s content,
Brings me such utter joy,
I can barely contain myself. 


Juanita Miranda Montana…
If the truth be told,
I wanted to marry you
The moment we met,
Simply for your name alone—
The way it managed to roll
Pleasingly off my tongue
When first I pronounced it.

Juanita Miranda Montana…
I dream of beginning each day,
Asking how you passed the night,
Serving you breakfast in bed:
A scone, an orange, a coffee—
Anything to make your journey
Through this complicated world,
A breath of undeniable ease.

Juanita Miranda Montana…
If you were my wife,
I would never request you change
A name so filled with song,
I could sing it forever—
Trilling from season to season,
Knowing you would be listening—
Until we are no more.


I think of the last word—
When it will be written,
How it may possibly sound,
What the meaning shall convey.
And I wonder, perchance,
If I can measure its weight
By the length of a feather
Yesterday’s sparrow left behind,
On the path to my loft,
In the house I call home.

I ponder what time remains—
Troubling me, now and then.
Yet I know not to stop,
For fear I’ll be unable
To start the process again—
Distinguish winter from spring,
Turn summer towards fall.
Just the sort of mutation
I sense could haunt me
In doubt’s final moments.

Archbishop Anthony Bloom concedes,
The proper response to love
Is to accept it.
There is nothing to do.
So, too, must it follow,
This slow work I practice—
Painstaking at its every letter—
A crawl towards the light
I find in a dark corner,
Waiting to address the night. 

Poet’s Statement:

On “The Lobsterman”:

What woe awaits the lobsterman, or any soul caught in a crate of his own making. This poem’s irony has, at its base, a man, a woman, and a trade, ensnaring the couple in the underwater dance they do, on land and/or sea. Despite their capacity for loneliness, this act is, at least, a dance they know all too well – an invitation to stretch the undeniable silence between them. Any escape seems as impractical as the lobsterman trading in his pots and traps for a shiny, new Buick SUV.

On “Erasmus”:

Spoiler alert! I grew up without the comfort, aid, and companionship of a dog. In fact, when I asked for one, my dad simply said my parents had me, instead of a dog. So it was never to be. But if I was lucky enough to have a dog, it surely would have been Erasmus. Perhaps, he would have replaced Peter, the invisible friend I invented for a short time and led through the thickets of Teaneck’s swamps. However, it’s Erasmus I picture now, barking to his heart’s content, telling me his memory exists and is safe within the words I’ve chosen to honor him.

On “Juanita Miranda Montana”:

If there is a primal language of love, then its refrain begins with something as simple as a name, chanted again and again, as though it’s a humble prayer – devotion at last. The contradictions and complexities of life tend to rob us of the initial sound we remember when first we meet the one whose destiny is ours. Juanita Miranda Montana is every woman, as much as she is yours, or mine, alone.  And she is waiting, ever patiently, for a scone, an orange, a coffee, to manifest her desire.

On “The Last Word”:

Sam Shepard’s epigraph, citing Archbishop Anthony Bloom’s words in his play, Fool for Love, provided the spark for this poem. How we manage to process the directions and steps we take to achieve order, and the tumult of chaos that follows, measures what fate remains ahead of us. The call and cry for love, undeniable in its pursuit, marks us through light and darkness, where we wait to address the night, assembling in search of the last word. 

Bart Edelman’s poetry collections include Crossing the HackensackUnder Damaris’ DressThe Alphabet of LoveThe Gentle ManThe Last MojitoThe Geographer’s Wife, and Whistling to Trick the Wind. He has taught at Glendale College, where he edited Eclipse, a literary journal, and, most recently, in the MFA program at Antioch University, Los Angeles.  His work has been widely anthologized in textbooks published by City Lights Books, Etruscan Press, Fountainhead Press, Harcourt Brace, Longman, McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Simon & Schuster, Thomson/Heinle, the University of Iowa Press, Wadsworth, and others. He lives in Pasadena, California.