Marianne Szlyk

Marianne Szlyk is a professor of English and Reading at Montgomery College. Her poems have appeared in of/with, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Bourgeon, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, the Sligo Journal, Verse-Virtual, the Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Sheila-na-gig, Bold italic, and Mad Swirl as well as a few anthologies such as The Forgotten River and Resurrection of a Sunflower. Her books On the Other Side of the Window and Poetry en Plein Air are available from Amazon and Bookshop.  She is working on a new chapbook as well.  In addition, she has led workshops where poets write tributes to both survivors of COVID-19 and those whom we have lost.

Words and Music

The pianist’s fingers drum
on the keyboard. The drummer
fingers her mallet, holds it above
the drum skin, taps it softly.

The poet’s words
turn to music, dissolve
without piano and drums,
melt into fog over Lake St. Clair.

Words and music will return 
just as the night returns, 
washing over us all,

bringing us back to the sound
of crickets on cool nights,
humid fireflies on our lawn

glimpsed as we come home
from concerts in the city,
all that we have now forgotten.


At the beginning of the month of birches,
we stroll the edge of the man-made lake, so close

to BosWash sprawl, fast fashion, and fast food grease.
We keep our voices low, do not talk or laugh

ruefully about the news, elections, guns
that slaughter children.  Birds without chicks paddle

in their edge of the lake.  Turtles swim further
out, too far to hear us.  Young people, rarer

than deer in our suburbs or Arizona drought,
amble past.  We stop at willow oaks planted

in memory of our friend’s father.  We rejoice.

No Cool Drinks in Harvard Square

Turning down Brattle Street
to escape triple-digit summer,
I pass rows of boutiques
selling rainbow rompers, shredded
yoga pants for mom, and crop tops.

I am looking for a place 
away from this blazing sun.
It doesn’t have to be Herrell’s
Ice Cream, its green walls
the tropics I’ll never visit.

I would be happy to see
my Facebook friend who gives out
jugs of cold water to the homeless.  
I would be happy to see her,
to drink from a clean jug.

I return to the food court 
where I had lunch,
for I am a tourist, knowing
only one place to go.  I know
no one in this place.

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