This Friday we bring you a cycle of poems that poet Carol A. Beane has forged of the particular and the universal. Her writing, so like quilting—meant to be seen in the individual patches and as a whole from a distance—is wonderfully appropriate for the season when night arrives early and our considerations are both of the present and past. We know you will read these three poems as we did—engrossed in their stories and carried to their deeper meanings—and are pleased to tell you more about this gifted and multi-dimensional poet after her work speaks for itself.

This first poem, Beane says, “Celebrates the consciousness of self and wholeness of being, attained or acknowledged, at whatever the age . . . the sweet with the bitter; the bitter mellowed by time and reflection.”


She was 92 years old
and 7 months when she decided
to sleep naked. The first time
was when she dreamt about
an old friend, a coulda been
lover but wasnt—just that
he was sick, poor fellow,
so nothing ever happened;
nothing was really possible,
you know…

Meditation on that which
had been done and that which had
been left undone.

It was the first night of
the full moon and the
moon bathed her in
whispers and
faint noises of flowers
opening; mother of pearl
poppies on her cafe au lait

with a touch of cinnamon self;
her hair on the pillow was
moon glow and her moon
sign beauty marks were
suns in that deep night
which was her first
night of sleeping naked;
delighting in it, until
dawn came, tremulous
and delicate, almost
timid, and that was
only the first

She gave herself over
to the silence of the woods
at night and to the starlight;
joining laughing women
wild dancing trees;
with them, temptresses
for the while
he was sick, you know,
so it couldnt be,
but really, i liked
that fellow so much
so very very much


Now she divines
the time by
where sunlight falls
on her legs…

The doves’ murmurings
come, interrupting
dawn, announcing
the new day.



she used to sleep
with her back to the dawn;
she used to sleep on a grate,
red high-heeled shoes neatly together at the head of
her cardboard-box-when-she-could-get-it bed;
she was a brown skinned woman,
the color of cloves,
thin as a winter’s day.

she used to wait for the bus;
gilded sandals of fine italian leather
over her shoulder, or by her side;
she would lean on a post
and wave all the buses by.

she grew thinner than stillness
on a razor’s edge;
she grew brighter than pain;
and when her bones got too weak
to bear the weight of flesh
grown meager and sad
and heavy beyond belief,
she put on her red high-heeled shoes



they made sculptures
with green long necked bottles,
setting them against the grey stone walls
where stale beer caught sunlight filled with refracted dreams
and drowned lost laughter and memories of

what would never be wrapped in silence and plastic bags.

there are screams that never dry in your throat;
scars that never leave your eyes;

the soul heals wounds with living—
fine sheer veils of grace.


Betsy Wing, reader, writer, translator, and WVFC contributor, offers these facts about Carol A. Beane:

Carol A. Beane is a Washington, D.C.-based poet and artist. She was awarded the 24th Larry Neal Poetry prize for Poetry (funded by the D.C. Commission for the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts). Collaborating with Michael B. Platt, Beane has created widely exhibited artist’s books and broadsides of poetry and images that are represented in numerous public and private collections—among them, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the John Hay Library of Brown University, the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Founder’s Library of Howard University, and the Rare Books and Special Collections of the Library of Congress. She received the 2009 National Museum of Women in the Arts Library Fellows Book award for the streets of used to be, done with artist Renée Stout, whose images images distill and resonate with the emotions of Beane’s poetry. About the streets of used to be, Beane says her inspiration came from the life she sees in and on the streets while walking in D.C.; from efforts to survive with some measure of dignity, from people biding time. Beane teaches Spanish and Simultaneous Interpretation at Howard University and is also a translator.

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  • Marcia June 22, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    I just discovered Carol’s poetry in the artist book mentioned at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and loved it. So I ran home to look her up. I know what I like and I like her work. Her language is as beautiful as it is truthful and poignant.

  • ken forde December 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Carol’s poetry makes you listen to your own heart; elevates your spirit to the summit of indescribable glee.
    Ken Forde

  • marie claire vallois December 6, 2010 at 2:54 am

    beautiful ….makes my cry with form the depth of joy…thank you carol….for giving this to us….and betsy for sending it to me….

  • Millicent Accardi December 3, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Lovely work–so quietly impactful. Each line comes in softly and yet carries weight.