Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Eve light at 2:00 a.m.

Here's a Christmas poem from a little collection of poems at At Length, all drawn from the manuscript of The Book of the Red King. Fool says, Be merry!


Bewitched, the Fool is watching acanthus
And oak–the bristling leaves of Christmas flame–
When the Royal Alchemist empties salts
From bags and bottles, raising up chartreuse
And emerald and yellow, orange-red,
Like a sorcerer who summons demons.
Dangerous salts of lithium awake–
The crimson leaves erupt from walnut grain,
Exploding upward, battering the air,
And change to silver. Sound’s sea-constant, wind
Fluttering and folding, origami
Of one substance rumpled, crumpled, bent.

And afterward the Fool stares in a cave
Of magic rippling like a cuttlefish,
A secret place where Lord and Lady shine,
Coalescing in their blazing castle,
A tiny Red King and his glowing Queen,
Two salamanders glorying in flame.

Thanks to editor Jonathan Farmer, who accepted that group of poems from The Book of the Red King.


  1. "rippling like cuttlefish"!!! A line I never expected to see, and yet so apt.
    When will the Red King book be published? I've been waiting ages.

    1. Yes, it has been five years since I started writing them, and I let a lot of time pass without doing a thing to the poems... Now I am working on putting them in an order and final polish. I expect that I'll have an announcement around May or so, if I finish. I'm finding the ordering of such a large quantity of poems to be tricky.

  2. I really like the weirdness of this; Christmas needs more such strangeness...

    1. Thanks, Jeff--when "The Book of the Red King" finally appears, there will be much strangeness!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.