Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday Poem: an earlier version published by Earth's Daughters in 1986, and by Fine China: Twenty Years of Earth's Daughters in 1993

1949 Pontiac

black and sleek.
My father rounds
his gleaming fastback
sparkle of chrome,
my mother already
tucked inside,
the vault-like
slam of the door 
still music
to his ears,
solid as a limo,
this dreamy Joe 
Dimaggio about 
to cruise away
with Marilyn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Poem: previously published by The Paterson Literary Review in 2005

Aunt Aggie Closes Her Eyes

and her soul slips away
like a bolt of dotted Swiss on the breeze
flying higher and higher
toward a Magellanic Cloud.

Good-bye, I say.
Hope you don’t mind
that I conjured up such flimsy stuff.
It’s just that you were gossamer
compared to our workman’s
poplin and kitchen oilcloth.

I see her circling the moon with my father,
Aunt Mary trailing behind them, and Uncle Joe.
She offers a wispy hand to my mother,
pours some tea and sympathy
like she always did,
then whirls, a dizzy mist
toward the grim
outline of her parents,
the thin familiar
arms of Uncle Allen.

 I wave. Thanks, I shout,
especially for your knock-knock jokes,
and for not taking sides when things fell apart.
For serving us your too small Sunday roasts,
so we had to stop for burgers
on the way home, my parents joking
and laughing instead of fighting.

You never added salt to anything.
You gave me my first Pop Tart,
and taught me how to face death
with a heart so full of love
there’s no room left for fear.
I’ll  always remember.

She giggles and shakes her head,
then flies off to ride the Milky Way,
glad to be as passé as Christmas tinsel.
Thus the heavy basket
I’ve carried all my life
becomes a little bit lighter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tuesday Poem: An earlier version was published by The Church And The Artist Anthology in 1987

What If Giacometti Were 
God In One Of His Dreams?

Tossing and turning in a Heaven
clotted with plaster dust,
while what He’d been so sure of,
shrinks to almost nothing as He works it,
or crumbles in His hands
as He grabs at His pounding heart.

He keeps what’s left of them
in his shirt pocket:
little specks of dust: fit a 
hundred inside a matchbox.
How they shock Him 
whenever He opens it, and sets 
them out on the firmament.

How the clouds cradling His
slumber roar and shake
as he studies their hunger,
their heads, too heavy to hold up
on delicate bowing spines.
How sad and spent they seem --
like matches past their light,
or saplings with shallow roots,
wan and vulnerable
on ludicrous big feet.

Plant them and the faintest wind
will flatten them, send them
to rot and mire, until the earth gets
fed up enough to spit them out.
He’ll never get them right.

God in a sweat, while down below,
Picasso can do no wrong. Picasso
with his horny incandescence.
What joke is eternal night 
playing on Him now? Thus He 
cries out and wakes Himself.

The Garden at present looks peaceful,
the man busy at his naming, the woman
strolling brightly beneath the trees,
though He sees the whole thing heading for a fall.

Surely, there’s something to be learned here.
Let new modes of being commence! 
Besides, He quite enjoys the suspense.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Poem: An earlier version appeared in Footwork in1987


Bless me Father for I have sinned

Sister Catherine tells us stories
about martyrs every Wednesday,
how little children in China
are being tortured for loving Jesus.
The Communists are giving them all
free passes to Heaven on the ends of bayonets.

This made me think about how little
I suffer, so when I go to light a candle,
I say a prayer and then I dip my
fingers into the holy wax,
and offer up the burning as a sacrifice.
It’s like I’m sending tiny pulses,
over a telegraph wire directly to God’s door.

It really hurts, but I purse my lips
and blow as hard as I can
until the wax clings to my fingers
like a pure white second skin.
It tastes like honey crayons, or
those fake lips you
buy at the candy store,
when I peel it off, and chew it.
Something I’d never do with Communion.

I thought maybe suffering
ahead of time might help me later on
when I get to committing mortal sins,
though I will always try to do everything right,
like a savings bond you can cash
in when times are tight.

On Good Friday
I sat in silence for three hours,
in front of the glass display case
where  the ladies laid His body out,
pretending I was Veronica,
the closest thing Jesus had
to a girlfriend. After all, He left her
a pin-up picture of His face.

I knew that Jesus was naked
except for the white cloth
that covered His holy parts.
Those pews are so hard,
and I tried my best not to
think about what was under there.

One day I was saying penance,
and Marty who owns the store
went into the confessional,
and talked so loud
I heard every one of his sins.

Every one.

I’m not crazy about Marty’s
wife. She hollers at me
for the way I read the comics
without buying them.
But I have to do that most of the time
so I don’t see the National Enquirer:
Headlines like Chinese Lady Ate
Her Baby really make me sick.

Marty’s sins made me feel sick too.

I don’t think he should have
done what he did to his wife.
I thought he was nice cause he lets us
call him Marty, but I was wrong,
and if I tell, I know that
I’m a sinner too. That’s what
Sister Mary said after my brother
laughed when Mrs. DeCarlo
let a loud one go on the way
up to the altar rail.

I am mad and I said bad words about Sister Joanne. 
I am sick of her Littlest Angels Club.
She says it's for girls with vocations
but when I told her I have a vocation,
she laughed and said I’d never 
get accepted to be a sister the way I dress.
Where is the belt to my uniform? And why 
doesn’t your mother braid your hair?

The girls all get to have 
cupcakes that look like angels.
I think maybe I'd be a good missionary,
since neatness might not count so much for that.
Or maybe I’ll grow up and get to clean the church;
become one of those ladies who dress 
the Infant of Prague. He's so cute -- 
Tiny Tears with kissable cheeks.
I wonder if He's sad that no one ever holds Him.
Maybe someday I'll be the one to hold Him.