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Poetry

cover of Falling Up in Three Parts

Falling Up in Three Parts is a collection of poems, along with a few prose pieces, by Patricia Long. The “three parts” of the title are sections united by theme.

Falling Up in Three Parts contains mostly lighter, often wry, verse and prose, many with a Texas setting.

Letter to a Young Sailor and Other Letters contains one poem called “From a Young Sailor.” — the only letter he wrote, so to speak. The “other letters” were written to him or because of him, so to speak.

Notes and Fragments of a Sleepwalker includes, among others, poems originally collected in the brief volume Words.

Now available at Austin’s Book People or order from our online store.

Sample Poems

I Looked at My Table

Fishy Behavior, A Nursing Home Tale

Sea, Ship, and Whale

A Pilot, A Bravo, and St. Michael

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I Looked at My Table

“I looked at my table,” he said,
then, a pause …
unspeakable silence
to think what this means,
five such simple words
that it’s hard to move on
from a picture so spare,
but so startlingly spare,
that it must be surrounded by,
covered with, grief,
or is full of the knowing
that no one is there …
save the man who would say it,
just that and no more …
“I looked at my table,”
just that and no more.

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Fishy Behavior, a Nursing Home Tale

Swimming upside down at the top of its tank,
it plunges to the bottom and starts spinning,
tail down, like a top.
Over and over it does this;
the goldfish, that is.

No wonder she’s crazy;
the tiny old woman, that is.
Hasn’t left her bed much for almost three years
because she broke her hip and still thinks she’s lame,
watches three loops of world news every hour, every day,
while that loopy goldfish by the TV flips out.

She says it acts that way because
there’s a cobweb in the bowl,
and if it bothers me, I can fish it out;
the cobweb, that is.
Then she asks for her happy pill
while the goldfish goes mad
and the world passes by,
content in her bed to go floating,
belly up.

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Sea, Ship, and Whale

I dreamed of a ship and a whale and the sea,
and the whale was the ship and the ship was the sea;
I lay on the back of the whale in the sea,
a ship that swam under the lines of the sea.

The lines that connected the sea and the ship
were as black as the whale and as dark as the ship,
but the whale was the savior that stayed by the ship
and I was the seaman on both whale and ship.

Then the ship was submerged by the sea and the whale,
for the sea lay beneath both the ship and the whale
and above, for the deck of the ship was the whale
and I was the sea that moved both ship and whale.

There followed a wake that was drawn by the ship,
and the spray of the whale came like rain on the sea;
I stood in the spray of the whale on the deck,
pulled down by the sea and the ship and the whale.

I woke in the darkness that washed over me,
borne away from the sea and the ship and the whale;
I tried to call out to myself from the deep,
but I couldn’t remember,
I couldn’t remember,
I couldn’t remember my name.

A Pilot, A Bravo, and St. Michael

Collective control in your steady left hand,
the cyclic control in your right,
both feet on the anti-torque pedals command
the basic essentials of flight.

You lift and you hover;
how smoothly you hover!
You pedal-turn into the wind;
You have the aircraft, assuredly so;
each intricate part you attend.

Pulling collective
and heading to sea,
all systems respond as you fly;
The RPM constant, your rotor blades turn
sublimely across the dark sky …

to someone in need of a rescue tonight
whose life is in those skillful hands
of a Bravo descending like heavenly light
and a pilot St. Michael commands.

“Bravo” refers to the SH-60B (Bravo), a U.S. Navy helicopter often used for search and rescue missions.
St. Michael is the patron saint of sailors.