Julie L. Moore



Amen and Amen

I’m sitting on my front porch
     by an open window. The breeze,
          tinged with the copper of coins,
will purchase rain by morning.

Inside, my daughter’s playing the piano,
     singing Cohen’s “Hallelujah,”
          her voice rising, the keys
stirring sparrows in pine trees and maples.

I want to care about her music,

but I’m reading O’Connor, considering Displaced
     Persons, the ungodly ways we ruin one another.
          Banks have ruptured like arteries
while CEOs drink Bloody Marys.

Broke, a man kills himself in Chicago.
     On the page, the priest mentions Jesus.
           Mrs. McIntyre snaps, says Jesus doesn’t belong,
damns his name. Their words

blaze like Ashley’s song, like the light

glowing at our front door, drawing a moth.
     Night descends around me like a net.
          The monarchs have long since left
for Mexico. They’re getting drunk on cheap

nectar and spawning larvae that slurp
     the toxic juice of milkweed.
          Their cells pack on poison like muscles.
When they burst from their chrysalis,

their wings sprout orange—loud
     and clear—proclaiming
          to every hungry predator
how terrible they taste. Hallelujah.

And other butterflies are question marks.

The pearly punctuation etched
     like a hieroglyph on their hind wings.
          Their curvaceous edges
silhouettes of every explanation we seek.

Pain is my appendage again.

(Surely, I’ve done this before). Sutures
     from my sixth surgery sting.
          Within the house,
my husband calls the dog, her tags

jangling like the crickets.
     Ashley sings on, as though her breath’s
          no longer her own, absorbed now
in benediction. Our amen un-

broken, like a world without end.



Harnessing Infinity

My daughter wants me to harness infinity.
Her algebra teacher taught her formulas,
four in all,
                        for bridling the immeasurable like horses.
I know why she wants me to do it.
She needs me to take her father’s heart
in my hands, heal it like Jesus
moved muscles so tongues could flex,
eyes could lift, and legs could stretch.
But I don’t have the power of God.
And the numbers in the math are
                         I sense the black mustang,
wild with will, the wind like a whip at its back,
                         All I can do is gather
alfalfa in the fields, pour countless oats
into the pail. Ease the sting
of thirst in its throat with water
pulled from my well.




Particular Scandals 

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of the roar which lies on the other side of silence.

~George Eliot, Middlemarch


A newlywed drives his bride to her death,
sliding on ice, slamming the passenger seat
into an oncoming car. By, as they say,
                    An only child is crushed,
the walls of his own school
falling onto his head. And hundreds
more like him. Killed by,
as insurance companies call it,
an act of God.

How we struggle with the particular face
of suffering.
                         The avalanche
in the young father’s artery.
The undertow of pain, pulling,
not letting go of the wife
and mother. The slow drip
of cancer in the preschooler.
The young girl shackled to the shrine
of man’s need. A girl I do not know.
A daughter who is every daughter in the world.


There are infinite ways
to suffer. I’ve missed one.
Of course I have.
Or a million.

Let me not
count the ways.


Why not disavow God, and say, once
and for all, he does not exist,
or if he does, he is not good?




Think: Tomorrow morning when I rise
with the sun to start another day,

will I notice the particular
drops of dew glistening like stars?

Will I fall to my knees, see
the blades of grass sucking in

light like breath?

Will I hear the mist whispering
to the pines or follow the swallow

to her nest, watch her drop beetles
into the tiny beaks, hear the silence

of satisfaction that follows?
Will I feel the warmth of her wings

as they cover her chicks’ downy heads?


It depends, I suppose,
on what I’ll need that morning.
If my tea is hot, my juice sweet,
the jam on my toast tart,
if the paper is full of the same ruin
that happens every day, if I feel self-
sufficient, smart, even a tad bit proud,
if I’m in a hurry, maybe even late,
if I’m still half asleep,
if this same wretched headache lingers,
if I just have things to do,
it might slip


past my attention, unnoticed
like a shy idea that stands mute
against the wall of the mind,
finding it difficult to express itself
out loud.


Oh, the other side
of silence.

That death-inducing


Blame is an easier game.


Hyacinth and huckleberry.
Hopkins’s beloved bluebell.
Deepening. Blooming.
Like the intelligent

design of a newborn’s lungs.
Isn’t it scandalous, I wonder, to praise
for creating beauty

as particular as these?


"Amen, Amen" first published in New Madrid; "Harnessing Infinity" first appeared in Dogwood.



Julie L. Moore is the author of Slipping Out of Bloom (WordTech Editions) and Election Day (Finishing Line Press). In addition, her manuscript, Scandal of Particularity, which includes all three of her poems in this Poemeleon issue, was a finalist for the 2011 FutureCycle Press Poetry Book Prize and a semi-finalist for the 2011 Perugia Press Prize.  A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Moore has won the Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize from Ruminate and received the Rosine Offen Memorial Award from the Free Lunch Arts Alliance. Her poetry has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Journal, Atlanta Review, CALYX, Cave Wall, Cimarron Review, The Missouri Review Online, The Southern Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. You can learn more about her work at www.julielmoore.com.