The Skeleton Holding Up the Sky


poems by

Mary Christine Delea

Poetry book, 56 pages, $11 cover price

($9 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-020-6

Release date: 2006

Mary Christine Delea grew up on the South Shore of Long Island. Since leaving New York for college in Ohio, she has lived all over the country and is currently in Kentucky. Poems in this collection have received awards from Art in the Air, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Kennesaw Review, Poetry Society of New Hampshire, and Oregon State Poetry Association.

Land and place are attraction points for these magnetic poems. In THE SKELETON HOLDING UP THE SKY, Delea is a witness to the elements and all that moves therein. She adapts her words to the shape of the world she finds, and in turn presents the world refined by her words.

Diane Glancy
author of The Dance Partner,
Rooms: New and Selected Poems, Stone Heart

From Motown to Fishkill to Paumanok, from Montauk to Marietta to Williston—this is an expansive book, an American book, by a writer with a perpetually packed suitcase and a generous pen who even includes the bathroom scribbler in her embrace because he “had a heart so full / His only escape was with a felt marker.” This is Whitman’s kid cousin with an attitude, following a map that smells like Old Orchard Beach. A margarita in hand. “Baby Love” blasting on the radio.

Alice Friman
author of The Book of the Rotten Daughter,
Zoo, Inverted Fire

To My Unknown Ancestor

She walks through fields that have no bones or trees.
The grass is green, but rocky coasts surround
her—all she wants is ice and Irish. Words
before her time, fire in the hills, and
no fish. She hears the wars under water,
the lullabies that turn to banshee screams,
a chaser, a shipwreck, the shells and winds
that turn to land. The snakes of yesteryear.
Language has changed her dreams; fountains reject
rain. It used to be colder, snow and hail.
These days, no brighter colors exist than
here—poets sing of famine browns, gray storms,
the misty white of stones in the dry sun.
She is hoping to exist in the future,
she is embroidering her words on leaves,
she is dreaming beyond the sea, over
another storm, to me, my language, all
the heated winters that I will come to know.

God Is an Irishman Living On the South Shore of Long Island

Look at my clams, He says to Himself, they are perfect.
Sometimes, He makes purple sand from oyster shells.
Sometimes, He creates the blue in the bay
for which no word exists.

There are plenty of places to drink here—
Clancy’s, Paddy’s, O’ This and O’ That—
but who has time? Not Him,
hanging around St. Patrick’s in Bay Shore,
still mourning the lost of the movie theater across the street,
now a YMCA. Not that He has anything
against Y’s, of course, but that theater was old, grand,
a perfect complement to this church
of stained glass and Latin.

Once in a while He gets a feeling like a hole
in His chest, makes Him wonder what’s going on in Boston.

When God sighs the bridges to the beaches
shake, the walls of the malls quiver.
All the Our Lady of’s wince
in unison, practice their brogues.
His melancholy can create hurricanes,
a drop in real estate prices, garbage barges
dumping loads too close to shore.

He enjoys the parks, the delis, the few
Irish restaurants buttressed by pizzerias.
But His true love is the beach, schlumping
around the dunes, startling young lovers
secreted behind tall grasses.
Oh, God! they moan,
What will my parents say?
God turns and shrugs, picks up a few shells and
skips them into waves, watching as
they sink all the way down
and then stares across the ocean to home.

In the White House Bar in Fishkill, New York

Here, where all the roads lead to IBM,
I once convinced a stranger in a kilt
To go home and come back with his bagpipes

So he could entertain us all. He played
With the same certainty of morning
And evening rush hour. He brought some

To tears. Here, where the mountains
Are so close and the rain rumbles in
Off the Hudson, people notice small beauties.

No hospital, no morgue, just five bars
For those getting through life on misery and sweat.
The pool table is always in use,

The bathroom graffiti always illuminating—
Who knew the guy at the jukebox had a heart so full
His only escape is with a felt marker?

Here, we sit in a town surrounded by two prisons,
Two more reminders of the outside world
That shuttles through twice a day,

Drivers stopping only if the light turns red
Or if they suddenly find themselves
Turning down the main road, headed for a noise

They can’t believe they are hearing, a noise like
They used to hear at home, when that was a good place,
Coming from a small white bar they’ve never noticed.

SKU: 978-1-59948-020-6 Category: Tag: