Category Archives: poem-a-day 2011

dear june cleaver: your apron is too tight

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Fifth Grade Family Feast

They ask for mashed potatoes
and she imagines
slicing the pale calves
her daughter called prickly
into neat cubes,
boiling with salt,
mashing them into fleshy mounds.

Loaded invitation
in the child’s backpack,
requesting families,
feasting,
preparation of food
in warm homes
with steamed windows.

One person – gravy,
next item on the list.
She climbs into the big silver pot
simmers until her juices run brown
as the crazed river
she could not keep from the basement.

Eat any dish delivered from a broken home
at your own risk.
Roast turkey will put down roots in the belly
strong as the claws that reach
from the great tree keeping the light
from her kitchen.

Four people — bite-
sized desserts–small joy
at the end of the feast.
Beware the pie
with sorrow baked in—
its feathers will stick in your throat.

She settles on sending in knives
and forks, not implements of torture
but sharp reminders
of what is needed to survive.

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this poem is definitely raw–as in, half-baked, not yet ready for consumption.  i mean, where is the stuffing?

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…

a surprising twist in the poet’s resume

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How I Became a Pirate

Have you ever kissed a girl with ice
in her mouth? A stranger buys a box of maps
loses the lock. Doesn’t get the girl.
The ice melts and she floats away
on a floe. Becoming an Eskimo
is never an option. Left alone,
lips like that naturally turn to green
teeth and soul patches long as skeleton
keys. The key to the girl’s heart
is lost at sea. She measures the circumference
of a shiver of sharks, dives in the center
(did you expect her to land on a fin?).
Resurfacing proves simpler than our heroine
expects. This is a fluff tale, female protagonist,
male counterpart with good hair and a knack
for laughing while swimming, never drowning.
Once the boy coughs up the key
(You must follow the script. He is a magician.)
the treasure chest is opened to reveal.
That’s it. Simply to reveal.

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process notes:

this poem–a gift. started with the title, borrowed 1/2 a line from catherine bowman, and out it came!

snowbound and stir crazy, the poet writes a poem

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proof that if you stop to write that single impression, a poem will eventually emerge…

Draped (working title)

You are the cat whose claws won’t retract
hanging
from the drapes. In the living
room there are windows like fish tanks.
For years you have lived on a corner.
People you know have to pass by,
have to watch
your perpetual swim.
Long maroon curtains, pale as blood
from a hooked fish. This is the fabric
that refuses to shield
you from winter’s freeze. Slight.
Insubstantial. You whittle your cold bones
until you are a slip, slide
inside the narrow rod space,
hold up
what threatens to take everyone down.