Judith Roney – Five Poems

poettJudith Roney has taught writing workshops for adults challenged by mental illness in conjunction with the University of Central Florida. Her fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in numerous publications. Her poetry collection, “According to the Gospel of Haunted Women” received publication and the 2015 Pioneer Prize. A memoir piece, “My Nickname was Frankenstein,” is nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She confesses to an obsession with the archaic and misunderstood, dead relatives, and collects vintage religious artifacts and creepy dolls. Currently she teaches poetry at the University of Central Florida.

Speaking Pidgin at Dun Conor, Aran Islands

If there is a gibit between us
I crave its sound as I heard the perfect rhythm
once: A libgil which triggered an evolution
in our visible traits, a mortgaging of the body
I cannot explain.

But I know this small bird can carry my message:
This is not borrowed
this is permanent beauty.

Eleven Words from Beowulf


Whale-road is an ocean, and endless
road of speak-magic for tongues!
Keep going, some old Dane said.


A ring-whorled prow of a ship
makes me want a tattoo
of interlaced rings; a nautical map
on my forearm.


A wallstead! Where I would hang
with the boys-of-the-north
and be their mead-wench. Bawdy
songs, platters of fowl and all that.

IV. and V.

Quicken and maraud: how fun
to come alive via such a word,
and then destroy. To a dragon’s
mother be, to use words
like these in my sea-den.

VI., VII., and VIII.

Glut, gorged, and gloating, are favorites
for describing any party or feast
where you slay men
and conquer your beast.


Shadow-bourne is descriptive
enough for my black moods;
carried along by Tenth-Century
shadows into streets
where I straddle the fence
and howl at any old moon.


Oh bone-lappings! Much better
than ligament, tendon,
or cartilage. A lovely duet
of words to indicate
bones being held by muscles;
Give me a bone-lapping
sounds so sexual
I might ask for two.


Sky-winger: Much like the whale-
road, a conjoined pair
to describe something
incomprehensible. Who
could know the sea
eventually breaks
at some other shore,
or that dragons
really could fly
if you just keep
on reading.

In Praise of Butter

Rich yellow fat
I crave you—

dry toast a landscape
of rough fibrous

canyons tiny, waiting
on clover scented

dollops with sea salt,
batch churned. Industrial

butter, agitated, sugar-
whipped lips wet

with a dazzling pat
melted and served

in a glass. Grease
glass pans, be my king’s

butter, bog butter, make
me a cocktail—a buttertini

for two—shake like
it’s the most languorous

afternoon of the year.

Latin Word List

I. Amō love me like a weight in your mouth
II. Appellō name, call me an angel, an addict of winter hair
III. Cōnfirmō strengthen, assert I am moonstruck, scented of citrus
IV. Dō give me the root and the oath of forgiveness
V. Redigō drive back, reduce me to mutiny
VI. Exspectō look out for; wait for the color of kerosene
VII. Labōrō toil, suffer a flammable mouth, a dwarf star exploding
VIII. Līberō set free, wandering like a torch-monk cowled
IX. Nāvigō sail off like St. Brendan in a tiny boat
searching for a garden in winter

The Way of the Cross

Is a one-way ticket
to all the way,
any way you slice
a meat pie,
argue way out
of an ingrown grudge,
(by the way)
come a long way,
every which way a Belfast
boy runs south,
fight way out on a causeway,
get in the way,
have your wicked way with death’s
feather, double cross
my right-of-way,
see which way the cat jumps
cross-eyed and you who
bows down at the altar
see the way the fire’s burning.




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