Turning Point




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Sample Poems by Jane Vincent Taylor


For three days the squirrel
hangs in a bare mimosa tree
lunging and flipping like a
trapeze artist missing the bar.

See, there he is again in slick
suit and full wind-blown fur
taking another sunrise run
at a cake of suet and seed.

He just can't get over it-
a high-protein heaven he'd like
to sink his teeth into, not claw,
but taste, then fall to a lower limb.

Yesterday I clapped him away
so jays and chickadees could
get a solid purchase. He eyed
me jumpy from the fence ridge.

Now I'm starting to get worried
he might have a stroke, so mono-
maniacal he grows, his scamper
amped up to a dashing frenzy.

Whatever else he used to do
before he had a lick of premium
mixed for tanagers and flickers
is so last week...
oh, he almost had it!

Someone should intervene, go
shoot him up with Lexapro or
coax him into a opossum cage to
chill so I can stop this constant

scolding, cheering, looking
through the sunless window,
get out of my hopeless robe
and into something better.

The Line and the Dot

A line is more compelling than a dot,
the watercolorist explains.

A line holds the sheets and pillow cases.
A line is a dotted place we sign upon.
A line is what we do for cash, for work.
A line is a coast an ocean liner finds.
A line is bright, a dare to cross, or not.
A line of credit is a bit of big sky blue.
A plumb line is gravity, unarguably.
A line on where to get a sublet in Manhattan
is not a guarantee of happiness.

A line's a story, a hook-up ploy for boys.
Astrophysically, a line runs to infinity.
In spite of love, two parallel lines
can become a crashing intersection.

A line of coke is not a liter of blood.
Heart lines reverberate, jumpy, in time.
A long flat line is to be avoided.

Laugh lines are not always laugh lines
around the eyes.

Eyeliner seeps and runs, eventually.
Lines of the body shift and stretch marks
line a belly ever after.

Life lines curve around a palm, romantically.
A line is a dependable flyway, if you are a bird.
Song lines travel through the air
like poison darts. Cupidity, relentless.

The blue line takes you out to Fenway.
The red line is a wet-eye sad express.
Lines misaligned will short and spark and burn.
The line is the basic unit, the poet said,
then broke it wrong.

Telephone lines wrap elliptical pole to pole
she wrote, in honor of the lineman.

A line is what the trees make on a far horizon.
A line is a queue for bread or tickets.
As for dots: a dot means
trouble. It could be
nothing, or a killer.

A dot from an airline window seat
might be a child, lost, crying.

Crosshairs are the invisible lines
we live by;
the dot is the bullet we dodge.

Everyday Beliefs

My daughter thinks that if she wears her panties inside-out,
she can help the Thunder beat the Lakers.

Me, I hang a felted owl in my bedroom window to discourage
peeping toms and other evil spirits.

Perhaps you carry sea glass, a lock of hair, your mother's compact,
or a tiny vial of costly whiskey, seal as yet unbroken.

Everyone deplaning has a secret something that kept the plane aloft..
One imagines it's his MasterCard; one, the way he bends a knee,
genuflection-wise, before he hoists his bag into the overhead.

In old books, like the ones you find in Lucky Lucy's Thrift,
you can see remains of words someone thought would save them-
now those yellow highlights mold within the pages.
Once a week, I take a little pill to prevent a broken bone
someday. I carry a St. Christopher when I walk on ice.

Have you noticed at the Dob-n-Win that the bingo table is a lovely altar?
Saint Teresa, kewpie dolls, paper cranes, a Sarah Palin Bobble-head.

Though a husband and several lovers have moved on, I sleep
naked without a single amulet except my plastic day-glow rosary
which keeps me safe and feeling mostly fortunate.

Tonight's the Super Bowl. It's snowing. Certain planets
are aligning. The way you dip your chip could make the difference.


Coming back from communion, the man gets lost.
I watch his face go from glowing holy
in a late Gary Cooper countenance
to that of an ancient boy walking slower and slower
down the aisle seeing no landmarks, each pew full
of praying strangers, his palm pressed against
his vested heart holding close the host, the body
and blood of Christ, the very one that took him
so transcendent off the track, the one who watches
as old people moving toward the threshold
become younger people's silent movies.

He looks left to St. Francis in stained glass, then
to the fourteenth station of the cross carved in wood,
and comes to a stop, finally. He seems to be pretending,
ushering, one hand on the polished oak, himself
a tree in candlelight. Sir, did you get separated
from your family? His blue eyes well. Yes, he nods.
We walk back up toward the bright and flowered altar
until row three when he sees her and is home, my
handsome movie star, the man who saved me from
this hard seat from my sleepy heart, and made
the old raggedy Mass worth saying one more time.