Waiting on Unknown Roads


Out of stock

Poems by

Sara Claytor

ISBN: 978-1-59948-538-6, 72 pages, cover price: $14

Release date: November, 2015


Sara Claytor

A native Tar Heel and former teacher of literature, writing, and speech/drama communications, Sara holds two graduate degrees from UNC at Chapel Hill. Recipient of numerous poetry prizes, short stories have received first place in Sensations Magazine competition; at the Virginia Highlands Festival and The Charlotte Writer’s Club. Poems and fiction have appeared in over 130 publications including a short story reprinted as one of twelve top stories of the last five years in The Pisgah Review. She has worked as a fiction editor for a small press and as co-editor of the former Internet journal The Moonwort Review. Her published books include: Reviving the Damsel Fish, Memory Bones, Carrboro Poetica, and Howling on Red Dirt Roads which was one of two books recognized by the Poetry Council of NC for the year 2008. For the seventh year, she coordinates the North Carolina Poetry Society Reading Series at McIntyre’s Fine Books near Chapel Hill, NC which brings in poets from across the state for monthly readings.

In this stunning collection, Sara Claytor perfectly captures the archetype of the Wise Crone—not to be confused with any sort of pathetic figure, but a human being at the pinnacle of  her earthly power—a woman who dances on her own grave because she hasn’t wasted a moment of her life. Embracing love, loss, joy, and sorrow with equal ferocity, these poems have much to teach us if we take the time to ‘listen’. 

–Terri Kirby Erickson, author of A Lake of Light and Clouds


Sara Claytor was born on the wild side of words. She has taken her life and spun her worlds into clear-eyed amazement on the page. And given it to us wrapped in gold and tied in silver. What joy! What tears! What magic! Nothing worthy has, or ever will, escape Claytor’s bright quickness.    

–Ruth Moose, author of “Doing it at the Dixie Dew”


Whether writing about lost loved ones, magical childhood places, a bag lady, the various faces of God, or one’s own slow demise, Sara Claytor connects us to other human beings, and gracefully does so. With roads into the past where wounds “still glimmer…/like broken glass,” some poems are heartbreaking. All journeys are uncertain and Claytor keeps us reading to discover what waits around the bend. This is an engaging book.

–Peter Makuck, author of “Long Lens” (new & selected poems)


Women Know How to Wait

Women wait nine months for intense pain
screaming when sabers shear the spine
squealing with joy when baby
pops cervix, first wails.

Women wait for men to change
snip hair sprouting from earlobes
place wet towels in clothes hampers
learn how to stroke and nurture.

Women wait for an old lover
to come to his senses; finally
realizing years later
he had no sense.

Women know how to wait
for holiday sales, yeast bread to rise,
love songs never-ending, that fateful kiss
as magnolias unfold into ivory fans.

Penelope waited for Ulysses
weaving her cloth, nightly unraveling.
Even Mary Magdalene waited
for Jesus to caress her in the dark
bleed from his heart instead of his side.

Women know how to wait
for afterbirth to afterlife when ashes
dissolve in earth—for that quiet
moment when sunlight
blends into burnished autumn leaves.


I was the one who said good-by.
This heavy stone above my left breast
seemed to pound against bone.
I remember pine trees in the dark
waving skinny fingers as wind howled.
I remember watching your car lights
slide down the driveway
while tears burned my eyelids.

I was the one who let your invisible
hands squeeze that heavy stone
for twenty years.
I was the one
who sank into an endless hole,
the one who stumbled
down uncharted paths,
counting shadows.

Gladys Knows Her Fate

No one cares about an old naked woman on the beach,
her legs, stiff as if spray-starched,
spread like a wishbone.
She eats Roquefort cheese and peaches,
juice lacquering her breasts in luminous blotches.
No one cares that her tits look like melted taffy,
her wisps of pubic hair like prickly grass.
She licks her fingers, flicks a peach pit into the ocean’s edge.

No matter the sun, the glare, the wind
whipping her hair into gray spaghetti strings.
No matter gasps, giggles from passers-by shuffling sand.
Unconcerned. Proud. Expectant.
She waits for her last lover, Neptune,
to rise from the sea,
erase her blotchy-veined skin,
grant her iridescent mermaid fins,
hand her a lobster cell phone
so she can dial God.

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