Friday, February 21, 2014

Clothesline by Marilyn Maciel

those people
wouldn't it be lovely
if one could
in a constant state
of we ?
some of the most
can be some of the biggest
what if there was 
no they ?
what if there was only
if words could be seen
as they float out
of our mouths
would we feel no
as they passed beyond
our lips ?
if we were to string
our words
on a communal clothesline
would we feel proud
as our thoughts
flapped in the
breeze ?

I found this delightful poem in a book by Patti Digh titled
Life is a Verb.  It is very thought-provoking, yes?

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Tribute to Mothers

The Woman with the Wild-Grown Hair 
Relaxes after Another Long Day
by Nita Penfold

After she drives her younger daughter to school, struggling
to get the wheelchair out without running over her foot and
the car stalls for the fifth time as she leaves because of
the cracked distributor cap;

after she meets the new cashier's stare over her food stamps
at the Star Market going to buy soda crackers and soup and
gingerale for another daughter who is home sick after
throwing up her entire dinner in the middle of the night;

after she exchanges babysitting for their rent in the main house
downstairs with the sweet fat/baby and blonde sister who owns
nine Little Ponies in the pink castle and a Pig-Faced Doll
with its very own brass bed;

after she lugs out the deep steel pot to catch the rain dripping
from the skylight and kills the horde of fungus/gnats in the
bathroom with their thin wings splayed against the white walls
like Christmas miniatures of squashed angels;

after she spends an hour with the child psychologist explaining
why she thinks her marriage failed and how it has affected
the children's lives and she wonders aloud if she can take
much more of this and still be able to write poems;

after the dishes, the laundry, the second daughter's throwing-up,
after trying to scrub the permanent ring out of the clawfoot tub 
and fixing the cabinet door so it won't scrape the wall when 
it opens;

after all of this, she soaks in bubbled bathwater and thinks of
Job's unnamed wife, caught between a righteous husband and his
war between God and Satan--how that woman must have tried to
smother the heavenly fire with her mantle as it destroyed their 
sheep and servants, and--fiercely--dug at the stones that killed
her ten children when the great wind breathed from the wilderness
to topple their home, how she tended Job's sores, washing him
gently with cool water, soothing the flame of Satan's tongue,
comforting him, and how she stood alone while he debated his
faith with God, proved himself again worthy to give this wife 
another ten children to raise.

As she rubs her tight thighs with a worn washcloth, she thinks
about the faith of women creating foundations out of their flesh,
becoming the anonymous survivors of daily battles,
that never seem to win the war. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Billy Collins Favorite


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.