Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tuesday Poem: previously published in Cries of the Spirit: A Celebration of Women's Spirituality, ed. Marilyn Sewell 1987

Image from Apron Stringz blog by Calamity Jane

domestic poem

Nightfall I sink
into dishwash meditation :

steaming china prayer wheels
crystalline bells of a lost horizon

breathing slows
din and lull of running water from crockery mandalas

moist heat muscles soften
zen poems drip from silverware

air hums out a chanting
cleansing melody

washing the frantic stew of a day
down the drain along with the suds

those transient rainbow things
thin skin of the passing instant.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday Poem: previously published by Feminist Studies in 2003

painting by Phil Wood
 Hunger Report # 117

It was when he stopped the car
and shouted that I could get out
and walk the rest of the way home,
there on Mohawk Street, which was miles away,
that I started craving cream cheese.

Cream cheese with bacon and tomato
to be exact He bought it a couple of days ago
to eat with the dozen bagels.

Cream cheese, smoke, and salt on Triscuits.
That’s how I wanted to eat it,
crunching them like bones between my teeth.

His, mine, the bones of our contention,
each slathered with  his love
to help me choke them down.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tuesday Poem: An earlier version published by Poetpourri in 1994

 Sculpture by Paul Villinski

Death Called To My Mother

butterfly silent.
Butterflies she loved
and talked about:
their delicacy and color,
their brevity through golden air;
as if the blossoms themselves
had taken flight,
their pollen-rich leaps
from flower to flower,
their nectar-driven reveries.

It was death,
hovering in the garden,
she opened her heart to,
weary as she was of struggling,
and loss after loss, never getting
past the caterpillar's hunger,
over-filling her plate
as if searching for
herself in all that weight.

She didn't know
the word for soul, in Greek,
is the word for butterfly too.

She only knew,
in dreams, they covered her,
like a quilt of shivering wings:
Adonis Blue, Pearly Eye,
Swallowtail, Roadside Skipper.

Come, they whispered.
the chrysalis is waiting.
It’s finally time
for bliss.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tuesday Poem: an earlier version published by The Nerve: Writing Women of 1997 from Virago Press

Romare Bearden's "In The Garden"

Sunny in the Cotton Field
looking distant as she bends
to rest the heavy sack on the ground.

Why’s Sunny so dreamy today ?

Her look so far away: probably
back at the house where her baby
cries and nobody’s picking him up.

Sunny’s arms ache, her breasts gone dry
so baby can feed while she’s away.

What is Mama thinking?
Sitting out on the porch, dozing off
when she should be inside.

Sunny Dark Chocolate
Sweet, uh-huh. That’s what she says to herself
when a little white girl on the bus
points her finger, pale as a maggot, at Sunny,
says Look, Mama. Look. 
A lady made of chocolate!

Then the bus goes all 
shamed and silent,
for a heartbeat or two, 
but it’s enough to give
Sunny an ache in her neck, 
from holding her head up
as she lowers herself 
out the back door.

Sunny Tough Hands
from pulling that soft white stuff
out of claws that hold it tight.

Nothing white without a price.
Jim Crow’s told her that, in how many ways?

As soon as she had ears to hear and eyes to see.

Sunny Too Fat
made her brothers laugh,
say her butt quivers
like the skin that holds the river in.

Right, she said.
And if you don’t stop pinching
and brushing past me
I’ll throw myself in there,
and wash away for good!

Ssss, Sunny, come on, 
sit down with me
Mama putting the plates out, 
just two of them,
for biscuits and honey 
and chamomile tea.

Mama always so good at fixing things:
the miserable din of her brothers,
the dogs, the fields receding
in a hum of pleasure,
the two of them drunk like bees.

Sunny Like A Tree
breaks the blue horizon
stuck in the red dirt of this place,
and reaching up to heaven
with pleading limbs.

Well, not really.
She wouldn’t get very far doing that,
what with the bag dragging behind her,
that won’t go filling itself.

But once in a while she looks up
and that big old leafless thing
seems to be on fire as sun sinks into night.
She imagines it calling through God’s thin ether,
telling Him : Look here, Lord.
Is this all you made us for?
When will you put things right?