Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Poem: published in Kalliope in 1986

love at twenty

might as well be
thick white fog
clinging like sweat 
to everything,
burning off
as soon as the sun comes up,

or a ten second 
golden waterfall,
white hot with rapturous light,
and dry as a narrow stream bed;

for all its permanence

why not roll in the shallows
with a cold eyed swan
whose midnight caress
leaves you all by yourself
with a bruise of a memory
as morning pours over
the stony face of Olympus?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Published by Caprice in 1992

At Woolworth's Lunch Counter

a man sits watching the waitresses work,
his cigarette smoke spelling out
retired and regular over his head.

Every once in awhile he lifts some 
apple pie to his mouth in slow motion, 
and regular changes to rapture.

You know he comes here often. You watch him
smile and nod to the sweet faced waitress,
wide as two people, who carries her breasts
like twin babies, swaddled tight in the navy
blue uniform, and so tenderly, as she
waddles past him with empty plates.

His smoke draws a heart in the air, and you agree.
Clearly she’s the pulse beat here,
the cook, dishwasher, girl who covers two stations
so the rest of them can go on their breaks.

You see a heavy woman with sore feet,
inching along behind the counter,
as if she were walking on hot coals,
trying her best to draw energy from the pain,
and unaware that she’s being watched
by this man in need of ritual,
this man with too much time on his hands,
this man without much reason to sacrifice.

So he comes here, to sit at this altar,
his gaze fierce and warm as a votive light,
burning for his Madonna of Tuna Melts.
You can almost touch his reverence,
circumscribed as it is in soft white smoke.
It lights up the empty glasses; 
it glazes the doughnuts.
The hot dogs glisten 
as they turn in their silver beds.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tuesday Poem: published by Enright House in 1992

Emily's Gift

was the metaphor,
there all along at our feet,
their small petaled heads
poking out of the grass
like yellow lights
that say: Slow down.
Stop, and think awhile.
Look at them all,
how they lean for the sun
just like us.

If they're lucky, I thought,
they do their sweet time unmolested,
are never subjected to the fork-tongued weeder,
the blade of the mower, the poisons
that leave you twisted and dying
in the service of civilization.

Here is a white spirit,
my daughter said to me. It was evening
and she was handing me one, old and
fragile; it curled in my palm.
Don't let it blow away just yet, she whispered.
Let's make it last as long as we can.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tuesday Poem: an old cartoon figure comes back: published in Caprice 1992

Each night you dream a woman: Hilda,
round breasted, bottle hollow,
who comes to collect all the self betrayals
that fill your days, coins you put through
the slot in Hilda's high knot of hair,
the thirty pieces of silver you owe
to the Judas living inside you.

Each night she hovers above
the bed on hummingbird wings coaxing
and bleating her promises: to do
your dirty laundry, ja, and scrub
away the darkness, if only you'll
give her something.

Hilda will fix, don't worry.
Just look at how strong her arms are.

Each night she flexes and bows
and you hate yourself for having
so much to feed her: so many lies,
so many timid silences.
You make your deposit
and soon you've stopped
tossing and twisting the sheets.

Ja, Hilda fixes everything  --
just close your eyes.
See? She gives you
blindness, she gives you
the sleep of mountains.