Carolyn Oliver

Twyckenham Notes
Issue Fifteen
Spring 2022

The Baltimore Monet

             —for Katie
The room a bridge for looking, 

                                       this room a bridge to a peninsula of bridges, 

looked upon. 


All nine bridges, all one bridge, join land to land

separate river

from smokestacked sky.


                                       Here, the bridge smears into the smog
                                                    parallel to a spray of sun.
                                                                 In the corner a bit of boat huffs back
             periwinkle, orchid, mauve.

                                                                 And the crew—
they feel the gaze planting them in the water.

Night Flight

seen giants—
lakes of land between
rivers—glittering? Seen them cast
a nimbus into the night, each life a light pricked out
by the cold angel of forgetting who darks the stars?
Morning, bare problem, advances.
Come down: the angel
awaits. Wants
to sting

Field Notes: Worcester County, March

Primaveral, this cold. First and feral, driving inward. 

Ice flickers against road, reservoir, glacial boulders. Milks sound from stillness.  

Jays drive thinned squirrels from smothered gardens. 

Of coyotes or cardinals a stranger writes, Too cold to be screwing outside. 

But the saffron tongues of the crocuses cry out in ecstasy. 

Irises blue leaf litter for one day, two. Then, unshriven, shrivel. 

The hours change. 

The air is no longer a fillet knife slicing one breath from the next. 

And the days grow fresh onslaught. 

Cities lop limbs along each road. 

Mourning doves missile past the window. 

In its frame, a loop plays: canopy shivering, shuddering, then swaying as if to shake off cobweb 
clouds. Whole trees battered down.

The sunlit scruff of each ragged stump a shock of newborn’s hair. 

Dear Neighbors

             after Nextdoor alerts, 2021-22

Bleeding heart, 
where is the spring?

Just wanted
help with relighting
a small apple orchard.

I want to give 
the hottest summer
our well because

I’ve never considered 
this cluster of dead bees
a major weather event. 

(Brief grammar remainder:
power outage puzzles 
deceased birds.)

How much rain fell?
I have somehow lost
my amazing trash men.

Anyone know of
a deep sinkhole
free to a good home?


Bobcat at the door,
do you know 
this salamander?

Humble question:
any one missing?

Sick raccoons
anyone know 
this majestic owl?

Serious question:
who is missing?

Pleasant bear
do you know of any 
fox families?

Simple question:
are you missing?


Sweet zuzu is missing. 
Why are all the sirens 
looking for a piano?

Hideous cruelty so easily avoided
is bearing down
a suburban road.

Child stealing 
our walkway, midnight.
Massive police response:

badass kids
are you hoping for 
fire weather?

Men suspiciously taking 
everyone who answered
a close eye.

Careful walkers
wondering where
we woke up this morning,

let me tell you why
public awareness
is not enough:

Dear neighbors, 
any good knife
needs to get off.

CAROLYN OLIVER is the author of Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, 2022), winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry. Carolyn’s poems appear in The Massachusetts Review, Ninth Letter, Cincinnati Review, Superstition Review, Shenandoah, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, Cherry Tree, Smartish Pace, DIALOGIST, and elsewhere. Her awards include the E. E. Cummings Prize from the NEPC, the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Writer’s Block Prize. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. (

Cover image by Adrian Huth.
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