Tag Archives: in the suburbs

30/30 Project: The Ides of March Version

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Ah, the Ides of March.  A day filled with trepidation, if you go in for that sort of thing.  It has been kind of a funky one, here, but, once again, poetry saves me!  And the milkman, of course.  Gotta love the milkman.

If you are enjoying the Mary series, why not stop by and thank Tupelo Press with a teeny, tiny donation?  It’s all their doing, you know, this deluge of all poems Mary!

 

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The True Story of Mary and the Spilled Milk

It always begins in half-light,
silent houses curled on their sides,

grass poised to resume its steady thrust.
This is the soft hour she likes best,

before morning pours its cereal
and soles pick up where they left off.

In these see-through moments,
she walks the neighborhood,

making love to what goes on
just past the coupling shutters.

When you are a mother you see
what the other women do not:

rough hands cupping hips,
full lips falling like rain.

You hear babies slip
through open crib rails,

hear men sigh
in something like sleep.

Oh, Queen of the Gaze.
Oh, Lady of Streetlamp Eyes.

You are not here to help them,
only to look in their empty windows,

practice their intimate gestures.
Tomorrow you may wish them well.

30/30 Project Lucky 7: The Handyman Version

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There is something to be said for beginning a daily writing practice.  I know, I know.  I’ve sung this tune before.  I wish I remembered the words.  Each time I set off down the “I’m going to write a-poem-a-day” road, I am pleasantly surprised by how, once I start writing, the poems keep coming.  It’s the “if you build it, they will come” theory of poetry.

Likewise, and this happened with my dear June Cleaver poems, now that I have opened up the portal for Mary to speak to me, she just keeps popping up in the strangest places, with the most interesting ideas.  Take today’s morning message, for instance.  Well, I can’t really explain it.  Maybe the poem will.

Please don’t forget to take a minute to stop by the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project blog.  There are some mighty fine poems being written!

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fridge pic

 

Mary Buys the Refrigerator Repairman Flowers

The other women say she is lucky
to have a man come to her house
at all, say the tools are a bonus.

He says he is a good man,
and she believes him—
the heavy boots, the scent of restoration.

She has spent a long time being a mother,
knows how to lean in a doorway,
how to hand over the right wrench,
how to kneel and be thankful.

He tells her he will see
if she has power,
if her couplings are poor,
if she has any resistance.
This is the electricity portion of our house call.

Mother of the Ice Box.
Mother Most Frozen.
Mother with a Tiny Light Inside.

While his head is in the freezer
take out your kitchen scissors,
trim your dying bouquet.
Strip the stems, slice the old thorns,
pull off each brittle petal until only your face remains.

Oh, Queen of Handymen.
Oh, Blessed Homemaker.
Your lips and eyes in the crevice of an ice jam.

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.

the parable of the anvil and garter

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Today’s assignment for Summer Poetry Boot Camp is to write a poem from an image. One of my favorite artists working today is Carrie Ann Baade. I visited her latest collection, Tales of  Passion and Woe, looking for inspiration and, naturally, was inspired by the very first painting I looked at! Even the painting’s title, The Parable of the Anvil and Garter, is inspiring, don’t you think?

The problem I’ve been having with poems lately is their tendancy to morph into stories, or narrative. But not just any narrative…they are all taking root in magical realism. Which is fine, actually one of my favorite forms, but I’m having trouble telling tales. I suppose I just have to take what comes.

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The Parable of the Anvil and Garter

After a painting by Carrie Ann Baade

I waited all night by the window for you,
hero, you and your white steed,
but you never arrived.
I would have mounted even a black horse
had you ridden up on purity’s dark seed–
any horse in a storm, brute muscle and sweat
saving me from lightning, hail, electricity gone wrong.

Meanwhile, the dishes piled up, dinner scorched
in the womb of the oven missing its controls
and the children straggled in with a rusty anvil
recovered from the neighbor’s garbage.

Without the steady hoof beat of rescue
to march by, flying seems the only option.

Outside, in an absurd reversal of strength,
a single raven flees a host of sparrows
giant predator diving and swerving
to avoid the sting of lesser beaks.

Leaving the house in blue garter and bustier
proves much easier than explaining why I am astride
a gleaming metal weight, why the very burden meant to drag
me down is allowing me to soar above the mossy rooftop.

Every parable has a moral. Draw conclusions at your own risk.

zombie love–it’s all the rage

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Gah! This is my new favorite word. It expresses everything from frustration to utter meltdown. This latest poem for Carolee and Jill’s Summer Boot Camp has given me trouble from the start. The start, this being Monday, was a line from another poem–a borrowed line. The borrowed line itself * wound up not making it into the poem, but still, the poem begged to be written. This poem is also a response to Carolee’s latest which is a response to mine, which is a response to hers. Gah!

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Even as I fiddled with it just now, I imagined tearing this poem apart at my writing group. My poet friends will help, I thought! And boy do I hope so. Still, I am in boot camp, and writing poems is what I do. So here it is…

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* The borrowed line was “It was a bright inviting, freely formed…” from Medbh McGuckian’s “Painting by Moonlight”

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Consider Your Daughters: A Zombie Fable
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I am considering them, silly woman! I would much rather their minds be engaged in the deadly arts than clouded with dreams of marriage and fortune, as your own so clearly is!”

p.– Mr. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

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It was a bright evening, fully formed,
and the tip of the crescent moon snagged my sleeve.
When the moon, love-orb, reaches out for you
what can you do but surrender to its gold bidding.

I chained myself to the zombie on the lawn—
(the undead being all the rage in suburbia)
the best way, I imagined, to save what is almost extinct.
Time, I imagined, to harness a will of my own.

We strolled the neighborhood, a shocking trio:
zombie, refugee, lamp torn from the sky,
searching for love in suburbia’s illuminated windows.

On the maniacally manicured lawn next door, Zombie dropped
an ear, thinking the man sleeping with his weed trimmer
might like hearing what his pretty wife whispers each night.

From the home where hearts break like dishes, I slip
a little black dress from the clothesline. Relic from evenings
when the couple inside stepped out together, the A-line has hung
at half-mast since wife danced off husband’s floor for good.

Tangled in the trees, the moon slipped from my shoulder
disengaging slick as a hook from a fish’s mouth,
taking my shirt with it on its ascent. Ever the gentleman,
Zombie tore the skin from his chest, warmed me
with what used to be his heart. This could be love.

I wrap him in my black linen
pull the dress low to cover the chain binding our legs.
We are a secret team, the lives we save not our own.

who knew you could learn so much from an unmown lawn?

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It’s slip ‘n slide time here in suburbia.  While watching the kids make knee dents in the soggy grass (and have a blast doing it), I thought about Carolee’s recent series of poems about her home/house/road.  And I realized, as per usual, she and I live parallel, but different lives, because I, too, have sad clover.  The poem came and I wrote it.  And now the dynamic duo has a new project: call and response poems.  From Phillips Road to Delmar Place and back again.  Huzzah!

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You Think Your Clover Are Sad? …A response to Carolee’s poem about sad clover

I don’t mean to steal your idea
but the white clover here at 34 Delmar Place
is feeling neglected, too, multiplying
like white blood cells gone mad,
lumbering in from the edges
(where a picket fence ought to stand)
toward the front steps—small zombies.

Bless my clusters of undead,
scattered across the ragged grass.
I rest among them, press my ear to the ground
to hear what they are trying to tell me
until I remember—zombies only moan

and moaning, no matter the tenor or tremble
is not an answer, but a prelude. This haphazard formation
(unmown lawn) is an alphabet, suburban hieroglyphics.
To decipher their morbid message
read my future like tea leaves
I need a boost, a way to climb high in the maple tree.

It would help to have someone, Amelia Earhart, maybe
to lift me up above this wild landscape
fly across the unknown for a clearer view.

with thanks to barbie, ken & g.i. joe…

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for helping me get a jump-start on NaPoWriMo!

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National Poetry Month is just a few days away, and that’s when the madness begins.  NaPoWriMo.  A poem-a-day for 30 days.  If you haven’t taken the pledge at Read Write Poem yet, now’s the time.  You know you want to!  And once you start writing a poem every day, it will turn into an addiction.  You will HAVE to write. Every day.  Or you’ll burst.  Trust me.  It happens just like that.

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In that spirit, Carolee and I have been talking about starting a little early getting our poem on.  And since we’re the mini-challenge divas, well, you know we have to do it.  This is my pre-NaPo poem #1.  I’m sure my partner-in-crime will have one up on her poetry blog soon.  Like today.  Right? 

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What the Dolls Do While We Sleep

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From somewhere near a pulsing
point of darkness (far from her heart)

Barbie reveals that most of her life
(the part we can not see

beneath skin stiff as bone)
has been lived behind the bushes.

Not a door, or a curtain, or even behind
Ken’s broad shoulders. You see, don’t you,

how letting truth slip from the split
of hard plastic lips is an act of bravery—

truth like a tree fallen over a chasm
your character drawn by the way you cross

balancing step by step on slick bark (courting danger)
or dodging below, stepping lightly over simple stones.

Minus the tree, the wide cavern (gaping hole) in her path
Barbie makes her first decision, slipping

out the window, snagging rubbery toes on the sill
landing hard on adventure’s packed dirt.

The bush is a cliché, rain soaked leaves
a moist haven glistening in the moon’s light

(all good love affairs begin with a cliché and hard rain).
This is where G.I. Joe waits, camouflage pants unbuttoned

gun hidden in a bunch of roots reaching up like hands.
Here in the bushes, Barbie lives another life.

Her dream house is a cardboard box
(so much easier to clean)

her lover, the hero whose shaved head
fits so much better on her belly than Ken’s sculpted crown.

In the music video version, our brave soldier gets carried away
rips Barbie’s left leg from its perfect socket.

No matter how they are molded at the factory
these are breakable times.

Returns are not easy to make
without a receipt, and even then

chances are slim the new doll you carry home
won’t believe the old ones really talk when you leave the room.