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Ellen Wise

About the Poet

Ellen Wise attended the 2014 Inaugural Bread Loaf-Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference. In 2012, she was awarded the Bread Loaf Donald Everett Axinn Scholarship in Poetry.

She has received a Maryland Arts Council Individual Artist Award, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellowship, and has been awarded writing residencies at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts in Amherst, Virginia and Auvillar, France.

Her poems have appeared in Nimrod International Journal, Quercus Review, and Beltway Quarterly.

She is a board member of Perugia Press and lives with her husband, Fred, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.


Spring 2015 Poems ~
Martin Wagner Makes a Knife

Walls, floors, windows, caked in soot
like the man himself, in steel-toed boots,
dwarfed by the ten-foot buttressed pier
of rusted steel he’s hoarded more than fifty years.
Angled on the work at hand, a skylight cuts
the pitch-dark shop with shafts of fine metallic dust
I hold my breath to breathe.
...........Martin Wagner grits his teeth;
five-pound maul in his death-like grip, he strikes
his anvil double-time. Chime on chime
steel leaves are doubled back and bludgeoned flush.
Sprays of hot sparks bloom and fade, extinguished
like so many sea-drowned stars.
The coal-forge shimmers green as Venus, red as Mars
and somewhere, far below, a rusty bellows gives a wheeze.
............Martin Wagner rolls his sleeves;

he reaches back and grasps a rod, its width and heft exact
in his fist. He means to make what lasts.



Icarus (Wallops Island)

In silent contemplation of the horizontal,
across the inlet’s flawless
blue, I glimpse this
vertical reference point: A NASA missile
launching pad whose stark white
flanks can be seen for miles.
A testament that we humans are in charge.
Only man could invent this gargantuan
gear-and-pulley show, this impotent,
sizzle-less candle. Only man’s own pent
hubris could shatter gravity’s shield and span,
could nudge mere rickety matter
beyond the flat Earth’s surface,
could raise the fallen Icarus.



Sailing to Anegada

We reach before earth’s edge
where sky and sea converge
in a hazy tourmaline.
It’s unclear which way is up,
yet looking down
through five full fathoms,
I see dark stars swim
in the plainness of space.
Fish fly past.
A shy turtle lifts her head.
With an indrawn breath,
her ridged shell rising alongside,
we climb the crest in a rush—
Together, tending heavenward.


Snow Geese

Jib and mainsail wing-on-wing 
ghosting under a gray dome 
as if trapped inside a shimmering  
and lightly shaken globe
I see them re-assembling
in spirals like down-swept smoke
rising now and trembling
like some hovering oasis
of un-tapped wonder
icy and sun-struck
wintering in my heart
that shatters apart
and thaws
to thunderous applause!



Ellen Wise ~


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