New Poetry

The Girl I Carried” is written for April 17 – 6:30 p.m.  poetry reading for Girls Inc. Elite Awards. The theme is “Literary Ladies.”

The Girl I Carried

I carried a smart girl within
me for nine months,
a tiny baby, a bit more than four
pounds. Her best friend
as a toddler was a stray,
Mama Kitty,
And in the high chair she
loved the notes that
opened NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
She flapped her arms and cooed
when the chimes heralded
the evening news.
Reader, she became an editor
and a musician.
But was she bold?
One day she came home
from West High School
and said, “I can’t get a music education
here! I need to go away to school.”
She was fifteen.
At first I said, “You’re not going
Anywhere.” But she insisted.
And so began the
North Carolina School for the Arts,
And then Northwestern.
She knew what she
Needed to do.
Strong, too.
She practiced marimba
For hours on end,
Building the strength
In her arms
That made the music.

She drummed on snare
And bass,
And congas,
At a time
When girls were
Not supposed to
Play drums.
Leave the rhythm
To the men.
Be nice.
Um, no thanks!
And she also studied
Worked for Columbus Alive
And then CNN news.
She corrected everyone’s
No mistakes on the names
Of world leaders.
The news was clear, thanks
To her. And to many women
Like her, like you,
Who stand up for their own
Music and that of others,
Who tell the news straight,
Get the names right every time.
So listen to the rhythm of your
Hearts and stand up
For smart women and girls
Everywhere. So that all of us
Can keep learning,
Young and old.
Be bold enough to
Tell the truth, speak out

When something’s wrong.
We have each other’s back.
I’ll stand up for you
Any day, every day.
Sisterhood is powerful.
Never doubt it.
Strong women carry
Each other when
We need to.
Smart women stay in school.
Bold women don’t
Let their voices
Get stifled.
When I got pregnant,
Another woman
Told me I would never
Have another carefree moment,
Never write
Another song. She was wrong.
All the love in me grew
And grew,
Bolder. Together
We are stronger!
Sisterhood is
One of the smartest,
We know.

Poem written on March 24, 2020 to reflect closures and guidelines in Knoxville during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Marilyn Kallet

State of the City: Green, Greener
Knoxville, Tennessee

We’re cloistered at home
today, but our city

blossoms around us, and
in us, love for home.

Other cities may turn envy-green
When they glimpse

Our flourishing greenscapes, our
maples and sassafras, silky

dogwoods and blousy magnolias,
brazen you’re-not-from-around-

here-are-you? crepe myrtle.
Knoxville Botanical Gardens

Blossoms all the while
We shelter. We persevere.

Our Sunsphere, our views
Of the foothills don’t fade.

“Knoxville is so green!” visitors say.
Mockingbirds and bluejays agree.

The sky has told them
Not to worry.

Follow city guidelines
And you won’t be winging it,

But living long and well
In our town.

Even when we sleep, our city grows
Greener, with parks and

Wilderness trailheads flourishing.
“Keep Knoxville Beautiful”

Is a plan, not just a dream.
Ask those who won the orchid

Contest. Ask the artists
Who stir imaginations,

Lend their vivid colors
To the city’s alleys and outdoor spaces.

Market Square murals call our spirits
With their vibrant brushstrokes.

Dolly’s face brightens a brick wall, and the
Augusta Avenue ensemble welcomes

There will be more art and

As time rolls on,

Past fear.
For now, we’ll create

Safely, in place,
Masterpieces at home,

Or laughing stick figures
In trailhead dirt.

Green is the bridge
Mayor Kincannon traversed

With Mayor Rogero.
Continuity lights the way.

The city aims
To keep our community safe,

“From a Distance”
Is our chorus, our necessary theme.

We know that Market Square will bustle,
Be the envy

Of other cities again.
In the mean time (mean time!)

We stay hunkered down,

Still, neighbors are helping
Neighbors. Maple Street Biscuit

Bundles emergency meals
For kids and families.

We’re good at sheltering
In good hands,

With updated info
In a well-scrubbed grasp.

The state of our city depends
On all of us

Using our brains.
Virtually, if we can.

Good minds are hard at work,
Distancing, online.

Writing real letters
To our loved ones again.

All but vital stores
stay closed,

For a time. Let’s take more
Walks, keep six feet

Of loving distance    between us.
Canned beans, pickled ‘maters,

Grandma’s recipes
Will see us through this.

The state of the city is smart
And kind, at home in us.

We’ll check on our elderly neighbors
By email.

Wave to them
Through the glass.

We’re in this together,
Not singing from

Balconies, but from trails and
Laptops. Germs don’t know

Who’s a Big Wig or a clown.
So we’re staying in, wiping

Surfaces clean.
Love is never having to

Near someone else.

Consideration and tolerance
Are not quarantined.

Our beloved Phyllis Wheatley Y
Won’t always be closed.

Diversity is not for a day––
It’s a race for always.

We love you, Knoxville smart,

Our daughter Heather was born at UT Medical,
Went to Bearden and West High,

Then NCSA and Northwestern.
Why can’t I brag?

Didn’t she get her start
In Knoxville public schools?

Heather judges the friendliness
Of every other city

By Knoxville’s tone. Today,
Our friendly arms are gently folded.

Yassin’s Friendliest Face
Stays with us, in spirit.

The dogwood trails
Shed petal

Memos on the walks:
You are not alone, Love, Beauty.

The trees are rustling,
Come back!

The state of the city is hope.
May it stay healthy and ever-green.

We love you, Knoxville, your
Pervasive good will.

Toiling separately,
At a mindful distance, we are

Working together, one strong,
resilient neighborhood!


Written for the Southeast Climate Science Conference, University of Tennessee Conference Center, March 27, 2020.

Climate Elegy and Ode

Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness? Alas,
more like seasons of withered
grass and wildfires,
seasons of flood, seasons
of drought.
When a 16-year-old is
smarter than an elected
official, you tell me––
whom should I vote for?
And that “Ode to a Nightingale”––
when was the last time
you lingered in melodious trill?
In the age of humans,
in the anthropocene,
we’re the ones who must
save our planet,
our children’s
future, reverse the burn.
Sunscreen alone won’t do it,
my friends. Listen to the
zebra finches warble about warming.
They hatch smaller eggs now, that
hold a greater chance
of thriving.
Like them, we must
build smaller, more
sustainable nests.
The children are singing boldly,
the adults will hear.
Listen, this may be our
one shot
at composing a score

for them and theirs.
Let’s sing as if
the air
and life itself
on our tender,


One  (Issue 6) has a poem “More Like Me.”

My poem, “French Fire,” is in Blue Fifth Review: link:

Two poems appear in The Enchanting Verses Review (“Forget the Silk” and “Ravishing”):

Poems are forthcoming in the March issue of Plume (“Turn Back”) and in the Plume Anthology, Volume 3 (“On Loving Two Men at Once.”)

Marilyn Kallet edited a special edition of One Trick Pony, with poetry selections from the last six years, composed by poets who have attended the “O Taste & See” workshop in Auvillar, France. Several of Marilyn Kallet’s Auvillar poems are included as well; or view at issuu:


SynaptIQ+ (Autumn 2014) contains a feature on Marilyn Kallet’s poetry, plus an essay on her poetics by Tomi Wiley James:


Plume Poetry (Issue 17)

“Soaked” Click here to read


Still: The Journal (Summer 2012)

“Almost” Click here to read.


Mixitini Martini: A Journal of Creative Collaboration (Vol. 1, Issue 2, Spring 2012)

“Almost Human” with Tom Weiss. Click here to read.

“La Coupe Obscure” by Chantal Bizzini, Translation by Marilyn Kallet. Click here to read.