Excerpt from Without Longing, How to Make Beautiful the Song? by Marie Elizabeth Mali


The following poem appears in our Fall/Winter 2018 issue. The single issue is available for purchase in print or digital format.

Anywhere you drop the needle on my heart’s record
it lands on absence, a song with longing for a hook
and a groove so irresistible I repeat it on every track:
husband who traveled for a living, divorce, new lover
in a country so far away he lived in tomorrow.


Even the longing is lovely—a line in an old poem
about a once-sparkled heart darkened by forgetting.


The chocolate ganache on the white plate I stare at,
salivating, is nine-times-out-of-ten more delicious
than the ganache I put in my mouth.

This is also true of most men.


Back when I used to sing jazz, my best numbers
were torch songs, the unrequited heart thrown
on the stage and left to bleed in the spotlight.

Marie Elizabeth Mali

Marie-Elizabeth Mali is the author of Steady, My Gaze (Tebot Bach, 2011) and co-editor with Annie Finch of the anthology, Villanelles (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets, 2012). Her work has appeared in Calyx, New Ohio Review, and Poet Lore, among others. She is also a coach and underwater photographer, and can be found online at www.memali.com.


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