At the Edge poems by Gail Moran Slater

picture of Gail Moran Slater
Photo by Portrait Simple.  

Gail Moran Slater's new poetry collection, At the Edge, presents many fulfilling consolations for the sadness at its heart: consolations of the natural world, works of art, mid-life love, and the joys of family.  Emily Axelrod offers this praise for the book: “Gail Moran Slater’s poems are a gift for every lover of poetry. Wielder of strong sensual language, she describes the vicissitudes of love, the endless ways in which loss sculpts our sensibility, and subtle forms of absence and solitude, all in perfectly chosen words that resonate deep within us. Through all of the poet’s reflections, she never abandons a deeply romantic sensibility. In ‘A Kind of Madness’ she reflects on a writing trip to Sligo: ‘…But I know in Sligo I’ll be free to follow ancestral voices. / What love is left for me / grows wild on Innisfree. / I am a mad heiress.’ How can we resist?”  

Carl Slater adds, “Gail Slater is my favorite contemporary poet. Her words speak to my soul.” And this from Mary Beth Hines: “Grounded in love and humor, the poems in Gail Moran Slater’s collection, At the Edge, explore the contours of ardor and loneliness, injury and forgiveness. Dwelling in places of brink and peak, Slater convinces us that ‘Anything can happen.’ Reading this book is to take a journey with a sagacious guide who believes we all ‘deserve one true moment of clarity.’  From the first, these poems dwell in the ‘light between the leaves,’ so when, in the closing verse, we’re invited to ‘Come with me to edge of tears / where candles gutter but stay lit,’ we find ourselves already there, our heads, like the speaker’s, ‘bursting with flowers.’ ”

  At the Edge cover image
  Edward Hopper, “Automat,” courtesy of the Des Moines Art Center. 

Gail Moran Slater is one of five generations of her family born in Boston, MA, the result of a diaspora created by the Great Hunger of 1847 in Ireland.  She grew up in Boston, attending public and private schools, and trained to be a teacher at Boston State College, now known as the University of Massachusetts/Boston.  She earned a Master’s degree in English Education from Boston University.  After a career in education, she worked in business until 2009 (at Idearc, formerly Verizon Yellow Pages), then returned to the classroom, teaching ESL to adults.  She lives south of Boston in a beautiful New England town, Hingham, MA, a place mad for poetry. She has a wonderful daughter and two amazing college-age grandchildren.

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ISBN 979-8-9865522-5-5
First edition, 2023
52 pages
Copies of this book are available
at all bookstores including Amazon
and can be ordered directly
from Gail Moran Slater
2704 Hockley Dr
Hingham, MA 02043.
Send $15 per book
plus $4 shipping
by check payable
to Gail Moran Slater.
The author can be contacted at


copyright © 2023 by Gail Moran Slater


See What You’ve Missed


Cooking a nine-vegetable stew, remember
the way it was that Christmas Eve in the South End?
Now, cold potato soup alone in the suburbs.

What does it mean if I say this years later?

Listen, last night I was on a crying jag
when my neighbour Ethan banged on the door,
demanding to know if it’s true
I have mice.  I became my Aunt Barbara,
proud but piqued, pulling down my acting skills
to defend my little patch against aspersion.
I raised my voice to his.  He wiped his eyes,
opened his hands, “Ok, Ok, just checking,
but I had to know.  I’m so nervous,” he said.
We cried together.

I wanted to run to where you are lying
and say, “Look, it’s like the time
we fought about that velvet couch I hated
and wept on many a time after you got sick.
See what you’ve missed since you died?”

A Kind of Madness


I am going all the way now to Sligo,
to the call.
The path is straight. 
I ll take the poet with me
and eat the local food.

I ve used up the world I was given,
the stain of travel forever underfoot.
My walls ache with longing.

But I know in Sligo I ll be free
to follow ancestral voices.
What love is left for me
grows wild on Innisfree.
I am a mad heiress.


(June 13, 2015, 150th birthday of W. B. Yeats



in memory of CFMM


Back from waitressing,
your midnight habit was to return home
for a cuppa strong tea without the milk
set aside for breakfast.

Child care experts would have frowned
at my late hours sipping a bitter adult cup
along with your sparkling confidences,
your pre-war Cambridge stories more real
to your first-born than they could have been
to the younger ones tucked up in bed.
Your heart opened; I stoked the coal fire.

Those nightcaps were our singular bond,
and though I've drunk milky, sugarless tea
for decades, l'll not be weaned off
that early tender brew.


Sweater Break


Two days of determined rains were over.
My long-absent daughter showed up
to walk me through the neighbourhood.
The tall grasses at the end of the footpath
had at last crowned to my height.
We walked under trees,
limbs hanging lower, thicker, darker.
Everywhere I looked, I saw green freed.
Julie pointed out the losses and gains
     to the citified me.
The flowers had had a time of it,
petals dissolved into mulched carpets
     under the bushes.
She led me by the hand around soaked lawns,
schooled me on the climate’s insult to wildlife.
I could sense her affections.

We needed sweaters but stayed outdoors,
afraid we would miss something


The Edge of Tears


My day begins in moonlight.  I smell a wind shift
from somewhere lifting blades of grass,
skipping over stones, surrounding my heart.
I am so glad of this. 
Let us shelter in anticipation of lightning.
Come with me to the edge of tears
where candles gutter but stay lit.
My head is bursting with flowers.