Category Archives: meh-mwah

napowrimo day 11

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She has never feared spiders

but the female slipping
down a slice of web
in the shower
terrifies her.
Not the sting of venom,
not the eight legs crawling her wet breast
but the not knowing
how to help.

What do I do?
The uncertainty strands her at the far end of the tub.
How to save this mother
babies riding in her belly
or on her back.
The wet woman
can’t be sure without her glasses,
but instinct tells her this skydiver is a mother
and there are children involved.

She holds out a razor,
an instrument of purchase
for the eight waving legs
(surely they are waving,
not drowning,
not yet),
but the spider refuses,
swings like an acrobat
out and back
coming to rest on the towel bar.

Shaving her twin legs after the rescue-
that-wasn’t-a-rescue,
she watches her own blood
catch in the drain’s lip
lose its color
until it is nothing more than shower water,
the shin-skin she nicked
as dead as the cells she shed
beneath her ring finger
all those years.

it occurs to the poet that things around her are perishing

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and so she writes a poem…

Things That Decided to Perish After You Left, and Why This Is a Good Thing

The summer fern rescued
from the bench by the lake,
dropping one round-tipped leaf
at a time from the inside out
until only brown skeleton
bones are left. You had a good run, fern.
I hardly knew you were dead,
so disguised was your decay.

The yellow daisies
forced to bloom
in the supermarket
thinly veiled
as still-life
on the kitchen table where now only three eat.
I draw ovals around your flowerhead
five-petaled thing that is its own fruit.
I can not get it right.
The painting goes unfinished,
the flowers bend and wilt,
sad dancers.

Tangerine molly
pretty fish family fish
plays well with others.
Born swimming, you trust the universe
to float you in a community where live-bearing bears fry.
Forgive our ignorance,
your arranged marriage to a red devil,
your eventual disappearance.

It is winter—
season of blanketing what is living
with what is great and white.
We are all prey.
The children are eaten by the school bus.
The heat eaten by ice.
The icicles jailing us remain dragon’s teeth.
When the children return
we will break the daggers with our hands
smash them on the snow-covered driveway
in celebration of what has been lost.

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this started out as a list poem, but quickly chose its own path. * process note: last stanza could border on melancholy/trite/maudlin…how to make winter not a cliche? winter is its own cliche…

Self-Portrait with Stick of Butter (poem 5 of 365)

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Soft as an oil crayon
slide across the curve of your forehead.

Do not use for cooking
baking or basting.

Fresh-scented girl,
name your stick
and wish it well.

Light the tip of your butter
with flame from a rusted gas stove
…………..inhale the memory of popcorn in a pan,
thread-bare movie house carpet
roaming fingers not quite long
enough to wrap a steering wheel
…………..curl around
a bottle of beer.

Lick sweet and salty
from lips you can not see.

Straighten your shirt
(you do not wear skirts)
Face the mirror once again.

Soft as an oil crayon
slide beneath the curve of your chin.

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Here’s the thing about writing every day, about coming to the page no matter if you feel uninspired, rushed, tired, un-caffeinated: something will emerge. It might not be great. It might not make sense. It might not be good until you work with it for days/weeks/months, until you combine it with another poem, or until you leave it on the altar of “well, at least I tried,” and move on.

But you have a bunch of words in the shape of a poem, and that’s progress, baby! Poem-gress!

The Supporting Actress Gets Stage Fright

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Pay no attention to that man in the chair

his horse is parked in the garage
rusted shoes nailed to the roof
for good luck. Good luck swinging

the old cowboy up and out of recline–
surgeon’s dusty trail having sliced the wind
right from John Wayne. He’ll grunt and moan

before he draws that pistol.
No need to be frightened.
Little lady, this is a movie

the blue sky is a painting
the shallow breathing is a soundtrack.
Stuff those jitters in your bonnet and learn your lines.

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After a brief hiatus, wherein the mother/poet ferried the children to the mountain for some rain fun, the poet/mother has 5 mornings to herself, wherein she will continue on her quest to write scintillating poems about superheroes (or pop culture heroes in chaps).

Words From Up North

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What We Did

 

Joined the track team, purple nylon sleeveless tanks

shiny matching shorts, marching up young thighs.

Pulled our white athletic socks up to their full height

(spring training) straightened our backs, flattened our high arches

against cool silver chain link fence, bent our knees

bowed wide firm foreheads against hairless legs.

We stretched.  Before we stretched we gathered.

Before we gathered we had to arrive.  (Honor roll.) Back up.

Rewind past the cemetery (let the look out come along).

See our breath smoke.  Walk (run, run).  Warm up in our usual way.

It’s spring in the north country.  Sidestep black ice.

Cup hands (that’s how they do it in the movies).

Back track, back to the tracks.  Cross-train

over rusted rails.  Hardened tar, blackened ties

no chugging mass barreling toward us

ghosts trains don’t run on the empty trestle

like track stars do (no shortcuts, coach says), paying our respects

to the harrier who dashed before us, (silly rabbit) died

with his legs pumping in the icy river

still striding toward that blue ribbon.

 

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While on vacation in my hometown, I have been reading Marie Howe.  Her poetry is filled with childhood memories, not many of them happy.  The “shocking” or “ah-ha” parts are so well woven into the tapestry of her poems.  I had to try it.  Especially since I’m here, in my childhood home, in my childhood town.  The ghosts, I’m sure, will be happy to oblige with appropriate memories.