To Those Who Missed The Meeting (and other poems)

To Those Who Missed The Meeting

The meeting was toast. Desiccated. Dry. 
We measured the dimensions of the room
once more: eight hundred and twenty-five
square feet if you count the closets. We do.
We debated the merits of whiteboard vs. chalk.
Considered stains, dust. The new girl declares
she just can’t write. No agreement beyond
the ones we have now are too short for Jason, 
for Carol too tall. I floated into another
dimension as talk digressed to closet dreams,
storage doors that slide on tracks, hide messes, 
new blinds that open and close by remote control.
And oh, we were elated to learn the air
in our future would be sucked from the depths
of earth’s core—geothermal warmth. A debate 
followed on the number of drawers one needs
to file worksheets and tests; we probably won’t
get to choose, but we agreed Bebe needs more.
Dry. Dry. Dry. Alan had run off somewhere,
far away. Wanda was a no show. So was her wit.
Beth sat behind me, so impossible to see
her subtle isometric facial ballet, the way
her eyebrows would raise in dismay, or smirk
in distrust and rage. I tried to snooze, to take
my mind into another dimension. Carol—
who stood the whole meeting, so never tapped
her toes, though she did cross her arms a few times 
and her ankles once, I’m sure—reminded me
I won't be here in ten years. Despite that promise,
I respectfully declined the request for volunteers 
to attend the fun at tomorrow's assembly.

Taking Yeats To Bed

I’m taking Yeats to bed tonight.
Last night it was Wordsworth,
the night before, a whole group
of men from the south. I’m flexible, 
but selective. I won’t take to bed
with me, for example, anyone 
ultraconservative or who insists
on extreme regularity. I like guys 
who know something about music,
croon some blues in the middle
of the night, tap out syncopated jazz, 
maybe even hum an old gospel tune.
I don’t have to go out looking
these days; I’ve known most of
these guys for years. Still, a new guy
willing to risk it all can be thrilling.
I’ve got my standards, I draw the line
at a man who disrespects the South,
denigrates Appalachians, makes fun 
of hicks and country bumpkins, poor
white trash or any of my friends.
I once threw a man out of bed when he
was in the middle of telling me his life
story. Yeah, it was pitiful, the life 
he’d led, but he was boring. Sorry, Jack.
When a man goes to bed with me,
he better have something to say. He better
say it with style because I’m not afraid
to slam his book shut and go to sleep.

A Young Teacher Quits

She said the words we long to say daily.
She spoke up, found her voice
while she still had it, said, “I quit.” 
She would not squander youth, waste 
her time hunched over inky hieroglyphics,
decipher paragraphs foggy as November rain.
She won’t go the way we did, our journey 
hastened by sleepless nights spent worrying
on the young for whom our fears are pennies, 
copper spinning on train tracks, red sparks
glowing in darkness as they disappear in the night.

Without You (u) I choose Sin 

In my new life I raise Cain, dance 
a blizzard, shimmy hips in digs 
where jazz riffs rise to the rafters
in syncopated beats—old time
fiddle ditties and string bass—
all I need in this reveler’s paradise. 
Bright ideas ignite
like matches on my brain case, 
tell me to dance, boogie down,
swig vodka, croon at the moon,
giggle, stay awake all night,
play cards, shoot pool, tell lies
drink life fast, like cheap wine.


  • Sylvia Woods taught high school English in East Tennessee for forty-three years. She is a native of Clay County in Eastern Kentucky where her ancestors have lived for over two hundred years. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies including Appalachian Journal, Calliope, Centrifugal Eye, Tennessee English Journal, and in multiple editions of MotesBooks’ Motif anthology series. Woods' first full-length collection, What We Take With Us was published in April 2021 by EastOver Press.

  • Multiple images of Saturn were taken by the Cassini spacecraft. In the first image, Cassini slipped into Saturn's shadow July 19, 2013, and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, and its inner rings. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI The second image is a false color reconstruction of the vortex of Saturn's north polar storm. Measurements have sized the eye at 1,250 miles across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI. Finally, a false-color composite image, constructed from data obtained by Cassini shows Saturn's rings and southern hemisphere. The composite image was made from 65 individual observations by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer in the near-infrared portion of the light spectrum on Nov. 1, 2008. The observations were each six minutes long. Image credit: NASA/JPL/ASI/University of Arizona