Isaacson's Hourglass

Isaacson's Hourglass is
emblazoned with its symbols,
character and resonance
of the United Kingdom.

Written by Emily Isaacson,
it is her latest work of art,
poetry published in the book Victoriana.

Isaacson's Hourglass details the poetry
of a waning empire,
on the verge of transformation.


The minute grain of sand
through the hourglass, counts
each moment of me,
each person I become,
with airs or plain common sense—
You dressed me in linen,
as the wild grass burrs,
and anointed me with fine perfume
from the paisley flowers of the field;
streaming down my forehead
was your oil.

So I was cleansed from within,
so I walked free like a man
released from a prison.
The temple’s gate welcomed me,
the church house sang my arias,
they trellised the treble
and reverberated the bass,
note by note.

The hourglass sand is
whiter than snow,
never runs sour,
is as multicoloured as fire,
and salty as the sea,
pouring and pouring
until it turns again.

Emily Isaacson

Threnody of the Thistle

Thistle Down

Thistle manor, away off the moor,
here the thistle down blows...
and away lullaby, mother sing,
lullaby to a prince and a king.
Here there is no sense of repeat,
just a mild prickly pod bed,
enumerating the signs
of harvest to summer’s end.
The trees and the heather
all lean like the wind.

Eventually the thistle down speaks—
down, down, thistle moor,
dusting o’er the creaking floor
to the stone gorse garden door:
resurgence from poverty to kin,
from ignorance to education,
forgiving liniment
from within, cold without
from the imminent
moor fog, hazing our sight.
From cradle to Yule log,
burn foolish, burn bright!

Emily Isaacson

Canon of Bloom

Find a door to the garden
repository of bushels of peonies
in fiery purple as pardon,
effulgent contrast to the spicy chives,
juicy tomatoes, and spindly green beans,
continuance after the planting of seeds.
Armfuls of yellow daffodils
are a brilliant surprise at Easter.
Tulips riotous red—
each plant’s color diffuses
with the morning
and rises with the heat of afternoon.

The poplar down blew
over the back fence of
the schoolyard;
I reached for the knobby trees
as I scratched in my notebook.
Herbs, fruits, and flowers
my mother carefully planted, weeded, and pruned,
with an eye for their immortal powers.
A city could flourish beneath this hand,
with prudence. But cities would be tombs.
All for the petals of a brightened land,
canon of faithful bloom.

Emily Isaacson

Burning Cinders

I listened from out the little window
to see if I could hear your song
in the lane,
and when the familiar whistle sounded,
even my dulcet heart gave way.

There was the song of us
that whistled on the moor
before the seasons began,
when we knew we’d be together
even in a foreign land.

There was the wood
that burned dry in the hearth;
I took a coin from my purse,
and counted the face on it
memorizing the moments your touch
reached out in healing.

There was the building of
something new amid the old,
a search for independence,
a need to voice a referendum.

The old country calls me home.
Its architecture has not yet crumbled.
I wave from my window
and write Scottish poems
to the sonorous bagpipe,
the fire, burning, burning cinders.

Emily Isaacson

Dirge of the Daffodil

Door of the Daffodil

Rightly in my grief, I remain, clutching daffodils;
fondly yours, and the author of this dirge.

Whether I roll like the sea,
or drift as the clouds,
I always know you’ll come back to me.
Though the earth turn swift,
or my life decay,
I always know you’ll
come home some day.

When I stood at the church,
and said my goodbye,
I knew it would not be forever,
there’s a place in the sky.

Emily Isaacson

Idyll of the Iris

The nacreous, mother-of-pearl cloud
between sunset and sunrise bid
the clay lie beneath the earth,
not yet formed on a potter’s wheel,
illusive, waiting for a cup, a bowl, a vase,
to procure out of its shapeless form.
Yet healing emanates
where lack of dying dwells.

The bonny swan rise o’er the calm
pond swells, and iris stands straight—
a less than mediocre gate—its tear
shaped bud, from heaven descended.
Its brilliant hue, a door 
by which we entered.
A woman in her fragile form
became purple iris of the morn.

Emily Isaacson

Elegy of the Royal Rose

There was always a royal rose,
in deep red hue, loyal
to a nation: entwining
as I looked deep into time.
The empire that bore
your name wore
the breastplate
with the coat of arms,
and sacred incense.

I was first to hold you,
in the lighted hour of truth,
and last to see you go,
the glisten of lush red,
the blush of pink,
a momentary trace of snow,
birth pang of departed lands—
life nestled in my open hands,
unrepentant starts,
O Commonwealth of hearts.

Emily Isaacson

Love Poems of the Fleur-de-lis

Love Poem of the Lily

The difficulties of life cannot overcome thee,
for thou art my constant and divine.
The gilded lily speaks from a royal age,
apportioning regal kindness
as a pillar of society, while youth rage.
Here you stood on a cliff with
the wind in your hair,
you were more savage than mild,
more gilded than wild—
the wind howled,
and there was a long space.

The empire of kindness grew.
Black note. Entwined.
Grace note. Elegy. Rest.
Then everyone looked at you
and saw you were unequally yoked.
The planets and moons began to fall out of space,
and you were out of sorts,
bought a glitzy ball gown, curled your hair, twirled
as a Dowager before the waltz.

Emily Isaacson

Butterfly Tears

I once said I love you
and that love remains;
constant through years,
the blood in my veins.

I never will leave you,
be I poor or of wealth,
as the sun crosses the sky,
without guile, without stealth.
And though the ashes remain of our years,
they are sacred because of our butterfly tears.

Emily Isaacson