She used to hate laundry days, the acrid
smell of boiled water poured in rough tin pans,
the cheap soap peeling away her red skin,
and the clothes less than spic and half of span.
The washing machine, a wedding present
From a rich aunt, transformed the shade of brown
In the diapers and left them a clean scent
But couldn’t take sweat rings on John’s shirts out. Continue reading →
I wrote an earlier musing on poems ending with the word “life,” so I thought I would also consider poems beginning with the word “death.” The most famous of these is probably John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud,” which John Gunther took for the title of the biography of his son’s illness and death—a book from my childhood that I remember quite clearly (along with Robby Benson, my teenage crush, in the TV movie role). Continue reading →
Under the bridge, the white morning glories
rest from the work that has circled them in,
that has pinched energy into rest, life
into death, bloom into shell of that bloom.
I run over that bridge, desire like wood
splintering from me and landing in vines.
I hear them whisper about me. I hear
everything whisper about me—the trees,
the grass, the wind. I am known like I never
was inside those walls. I am known unlike
a girl before people, in the hunting
moon, in the time of the wolf’s breath, my life
hidden in reeds titled by the current.
I appear when thorns etch my lines in dust.
When I see blank signs along the roadway, I usually think of a poem that would fit on them. That one would be just perfect for a Yeats’ line or that one could fit an entire Dickinson. I like signs that were once something and the writing has all faded out so that they are signs about nothing now. Continue reading →
The way of this life is a tenuous one.
My son flirts with joy at a cherry popsicle
in the afternoon and that evening
must stand his ground in the backyard,
when he tells his new friend Stuart, I am not a baby. You think I’m a baby.
The way of this life is a tenuous one. Continue reading →
When I return to you, I will remember
My life before the mountain. I will soak
The western wind, the dark musky nights,
The fall, the trials, and those who played
A part all together in the river
Behind our house where I spent
Those days you were not real to me.
I will never pull them out,
Never clip them to a line to dry,
Never fold and put them away. Continue reading →
One of my occasional gigs is taking my Montgomery Ward typewriter to a festival or conference and setting up to write poems in a minute. You give me three words, and I will make a poem for you with them in it. Today, I am snowed in and could use some practice. If you put your name (or a fake name) in the comments box along with three words, I will write you a custom poem and post it on this page. You can see samples of the poems I’ve written in the past. It’s what I do. Continue reading →
Sea of Love, a thriller from 1989, is not your typical police drama. Yeah, there’s the career cop drinking too much (Al Pacino) and the sexy woman who becomes a suspect (Ellen Barkin), and the cop’s buddy who offers comic relief (John Goodman). But the killer finds victims through poetic ditties in the newspaper personal ads. Continue reading →