Poetry

Below are a few of my poems, as well as a favorite by Stephen Crane
I’ll be adding to this page from time to time.

I Write In The Laundromat

I write in the laundromat.
I am a woman
and between wash & dry cycles
I write.

I write while the beans soak
and with children’s voices in my ear.
I spell out words for scrabble
while I am writing.

I write as I drive to the office
where I type a man’s letters
and when he goes to lunch
I write.

When the kids go out the door
on Saturday I write
and while the frozen dinners thaw
I write.

I write on the toilet
and in the bathtub
and when I appear to be talking
I am often writing.

I write in the laundromat
while the kids soak
with scrabbled ears
and beans in the office
and frozen toiletslaundryand in the car
between wash and dry.

And your words
and my words
and her words
and their words
and I am a woman
and I write in the laundromat.

_______________________

I used to view the crescent moon

I used to view the crescent moon
as a silver sliver
oblivious to the shadowed sphere.

Now I notice first the dark side of the moon,
the illumined crescent
as incidental.

_____________________________________________
Smoking Again
I couldn’t leave the cafe
without passing her
and I couldn’t pass her
so I couldn’t leave.

She hadn’t seen me yet
but he had
(didn’t tell her of course).

I studied her smoke rings
to decipher the marriage:
was it falling apart
already?

Her hair fell
in great shimmering waves
down her back
and I could feel it
grazing his naked thigh

his fingers on her nipples
her laughter
laughter of my girlhood
tickling his ears.

His eyes devouring
his hand grasping
his hands
her nipples
her hair
his thighs
I stood and passed her.
She leaned forward,
eyes wide, glad to see me.

“You’re smoking again,”
I said, and left.

__________________________
The Last Lap
Swimming toward another shore
I pause to gaze at those behind.
Letting go was never easy
and the pain disguised as pleasure
was seductive.
How I cradled it between my breasts
pretending my yearning sighs
were of contentment.
How I studied our strokes
as we moved through the muck
only to discover
I’d been swimming alone.

Surfacing
I find you bobbing
like a piece of dead wood
surrounded by those
who fitfully grasp
your slippery edges.
It is not you I mourn
in crossing
but the loss of kinship
with the drowning.

_________________________

The older I get, the more this poem resonates:

In The Desert
Stephen Crane

English: w:Stephen Crane]].

English: w:Stephen Crane]]. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
held his heart in his hands,
and ate of it.

I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
because it is bitter,
and because it is my heart.”

_____________________

All I Ever Wanted

All I ever wanted from you was a baby.
All I ever needed you for was your seed.
The rest was a cover.
The rest of the needs
I presented with tearful platitutdes
were merely a disguise.

I used your maleness ruthlessly.
I never was what I pretended to be.
I needed your seed
and I took it with style
and after the first
I milked you for more.
I milked you, do you hear?
The silly things you used me for
never really touched me.

Once I had my children
I played on all the mean
sadistic nastiness in you
which wasn’t hard to find:
I had chosen you for your nastiness
knowing it was my ticket out.

Wicked woman that I was,
glorious witch,
triumphant she-devil!

All I ever wanted from you was a baby.
All I ever needed you for was your seed.
The rest was a cover.

____________________________

Sick

You were sick that weekend
lying in your purple-sheeted bed
absorbed in deterioration.

I was on the campaign trail then:
the well-worn trail
women have traveled for centuries,
out to make you love me.

And there you were
in a purple-sheeted bed
hopelessly vulnerable.

So I rode the Amtrak
to your hobbit hole
and did your cooking
washed your dishes
served you tea.

The campaign trail is rough
though the markers well-defined.
On the second day I stumbled.
I cried out to you
but you couldn’t respond:
you were sick
I was healthy.

You were sicker that weekend
than I had imagined.

_________________________

Midnight Instincts

Don’t follow midnight instincts:
that knife-edged clarity
is but a dagger against darkness.

Lovers you decide to take
will do more than warm your bed.
Letters to your mother
will be misunderstood.
Those dream-inspired lines
were probably written by Proust.

Seal envelopes at dawn.
Dial telephones at noon.
Make love in the blazing sun.

When shimmering visions disturb your slumber
remember that midnight’s Eurekas
are morning’s mea culpas.

_________________________________

Whose Side Are You On?

We were running running
and suddenly I faced him.
All our lives had led us to this moment.
His rifle aimed at my heart
and he pulled the trigger
a split second before calling my name…

and the air is thick and sweet
and I am fairly swooning…

We were in a car,
he on top of me:
I wriggled beneath him
and called it love.

He went off to the wars.
I stayed home and had babies,
forever dreaming of his sweet love,
waking, reaching through the thick sweet air
I called love.

He came home from the wars.
I grew up with my babies.
We reached for each other
but the air had turned bitter.

And I am running from the guns.
All thoughts of love are gone.

I haven’t read or published the following poem in a long time because I thought it was out of date: the concept of Political Correctness, as it’s spread from marginal groups to the mainstream since the 70s, has come to refer primarily to speech, to the use of words deemed wrong or demeaning. But in fact the atmosphere is still just as stifling, with everyone eagerly waiting to jump on anyone who utters anything deemed politically incorrect.

Politically Correct

My stylishly booted friend
changes into sneakers
for the abortion rights rally
because
they’re politically
correct.

The phrase rolls easily off her tongue
evoking images of gray-hooded peasants,
an army of revolutionary clones.

I assure her
that high-heeled shoes
and pure silk blouses
have nothing to do
with integrity.

In the morning
the man who supports her
discusses his plans for the day:
replacing a vice-president in Tokyo;
lunching with the head of a Madrid corporation;
making final payment on his new Mercedes Benz.

She meanwhile
is telling me something
about the need for funding the arts
but my ears jam with the cries
of an African baby
dying
under the crunch
of a well-heeled
boot.

 

 

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