Eileen Malone

Eileen Malone is the author of The Complete Guide to Writers Groups, Conferences and Workshops (Wiley), the award-winning collection Letters with Taloned Claws (Poet’s Corner Press), and poetry books: I Should Have Given Them Water (Ragged Sky Press) as well as It Could Be Me, Although Unsure (Kelsay Press). Her poetry and stories have been published in over 500 literary journals and anthologies, many of which have earned prizes and citations, i.e., four Pushcart nominations.

Eileen taught K-12 with the California Poets in the Schools Program and creative writing workshops for the California Community College System. She hosted and co-produced an interview show for San Francisco Access Television which can now be viewed online. She is a voting member of the Northern California Book Reviewers, and as a mental health activist, sits on the Program Advisory Committee of Caminar. Eileen is Founder and Director of the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and a past Poet Laureate for Broadmoor Village.

Poems on Belonging

EXMOOR PONY

After our cream tea followed by a stop
at the pub for a pint and cheddar
the short, dark-skinned man of powerful
legs and smooth stride leads me on our walk
into loam flavored air, faint drizzle
gleaming wind, my heritage

lighter, louder than damp turned earth
a patterned mare stands in southwest drizzle
a clean beauty of wet sea-pebbles
her sure, smooth eyes surrounded by rings
of light colored hair

a wild Exmoor Pony, he tells me, prehistoric
fashioned by nature, not breeders, survivors
like him, he goes on, here before the Picts
before the Celts, the Romans, before the tundra
gave way to birch forests and grassland

he talks and his eyes, brown, ancient, native steady
as soft rain on mud allow me to link brightly
into all that is sturdy, hardy, ample of bloodlines
—and, he winks, all that has endured.

HIS BEAUTIFUL MOTHER

He would watch her, sit on the edge of her bed
the reflection of his barefoot boy-self
out of range in her dressing table mirror
watch his beautiful mother brush her blackly
beautiful hair, the kind of hair that begs to be
taken out dancing and when he thinks of dancing
he thinks of her step, light-ankled like wild Sika deer

he remembers how she brushed her hair
up from the mystery that was herself
catching it, twisting it into a Celtic knot
singing with blackbird voice, her throat whiter
than any lily wet with sun, but that was then
and this is now, before she banished him from
sitting on that same bed she took to, refused
to rise from, let the tangles wither in her hair
tossed in fever and deliriums and began to die
and die and die and die and all he wanted to do
was think about her hair, her hair, the black hair
found only on young Irish women, straight, silken
in its awful glamour of black, how he would sing
into the harp of it silvered with sheen and how
she would sing back, kiss him to sleep
her midnight black hair a halo of incessant scent
of daffodil breath, tea leaves, lily of the valley

sometimes when the boy becomes the man
he has to change the truth in order to remember
someone the way he wants to, sometimes
he has to turn the mirror to the wall.

Copyright © 2022 by Eileen Malone. Used with permission of the author.

Civic Engagement

Poet Laureate Emerita, Broadmoor Village

Educator, California Poets in the Schools Program and California Community College System

Host & Producer, San Francisco Access Television

Board member, Northern California Book Reviewers

Program Advisory Committee, Caminar

Founder and Director, Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition