NaPoMo#27

Incunabula
He sleeps and I feel finally twinned.
Every morning since the night
we were born, stillness awakened
him first to find us remade children
swaddled in each other’s sheets.

Today his eyes slowly crack open
and brighten the sun just so,
sifting puffs of air into my mouth
as I chant, “I woke up before you!”
He answers, “Yes?” in that patient

parent-lover tone, not understanding,
but reluctant to suffocate with a “So?”
my obvious enthusiasm as
I
explain
to
him
for a change: “I thought you
rose with the sun,” thinking—forehead

warmed by his chest, his heart throbbing
in barely-audible brushes against
my folded ear—
I suspected you
were the sun
.  But my own sound
pretends just a little longer instead,

“I feel like I just saw Santa Claus.”
Where had I heard that before?
Read it? Perhaps written it myself?
No matter, his groomed toes peeking
from our sheets remind—all that
happened before we were born.

NaPoMo#26

My Favorite Scarf

Sisterly love knitted it from magenta wool,
strung just the needed amount of orange
through cables and flat-hemmed points.

It’s much like the pink vest always paired
with a skirt in kindergarten, with swirled
horn buttons and same-yarn whipstitching.

There were blue and green gloves too,
checkerboard patterned–belonging to
one of my sisters–and the old wooden

footstool George made our mother one of
the times he went to classes long enough
to finish something. There were dresses,

hooded robes, three sets of red Tartan boy
pajamas, later tiny crocheted caps and mittens
for grandnieces. Eventually, this bracelet,

cobalt-glass-beaded, strung on steel, like
those we saw at the crafts fair one Christmas
that earned a gasp. We were all creative

when it came to gifting, old-fashioned even
then. Her misplaced scarf holds memories,
so no wonder Elizabeth welcomed its return.

 

NaPoMo#25

 

unpaid vacation   

 

haven’t left the apartment, not in two days 
but the world hasn’t missed me at all 
neither the smiling clerk at the 7-11 
nor eye-rolling bagger at the Shaw’s 
not the morning-wishing
Metro vendor 

 

gas and electric bills nestle patiently 
in their no-nonsense blue and white 
envelopes, completely unconcerned
though the mailman rang the bell like crazy
as if my neglect were a personal slight 

 

at one of those best times, lingered upon 
on days like this, my lover would have 
left six messages, then complained about 
clingy women after I left two in return 
but today there’s only an omelet’s sizzle

 

 

 

NaPoMo23

First, Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday!!

23 My Civic Duty


The old building was rather nicer, cadet-blue trimming
the dusty fleur-de-lis high on freshly off-whitened walls,
the flag a scrub-faced inspiration by the unplugged television,

still bubble-wrapped and cellophaned, rolled to face the left.
Here, three years later, my leg falls asleep at 9:40
with no friendly biologist “slash sculptor” to distract me

from the scuffed ecru walls until hauled off, leaving only
Panel #5 as his name, chuckling through a jovial cloud
of moral outrage, as I serenade him with a tune from
Hair.

No one’s snoring now, and no new man is at my side,
vibrant, handsomely leather-scented, to say in a warm,
deep voice, “I’m envious” as I think, “Me too,” nearly blinded

by his wedding band. The water cooler burbles yet again
when another bored-not-thirsty would-be juror takes a swig,
and we the Unimpaneled languish, murdering voodoo doll

doodles of the lunch crowd that will beat us to the foccacia
at noon. Soon I’ll sit next to bachelors 3, then 4, then 5
in this judicial version of speed dating, no less scientific

for weeding out married guys, none of whom would think
to strip his left hand for jury duty. As the safety-hazard
laptopper strings rechargers across the aisle and another

stripe-shirted worker bee yaps too loud from the vending
room, I sit under the broken clock with a spare pen
snapped up on my sprint for the door and train that now

seems like years ago–in case the pen that lives in my bag
identifies this grid-ceilinged room in a brick-locked building
as an excellent place for all of its last earthly rites.

 

NaPoMo#22

#21 Removed

my first love

phones ringing make me think of towers
and float back to Rockport in 1987,
where I swerved in a yellow gauze sundress,
sandals slung over shoulders, and danced

across the sand as Warren watched, smiling silent,
his “tutti-fruity” eyes leaping across the beach,
then he lead us to the lighthouse to be seen
by a woman with a distemperate husband

as we lovers watched the simmering sundown,
his huge, solid chest pressed against my back,
cheek against the top of my head, rocking
forward for the kiss of my beckoning hair.

and the husband watched too as Warren
wrapped up dusk against the salty spritzes,
both of us in his grey windbreaker, the ball
slowfalling as we four glowed warm and still.

NaPoMo #20

20 The Happy Hour

 

For an hour each night, the children bathed

and bedded down with stuffed bunnies and Pooh,

she lay white-nightied in the chirping dark to wonder

if her husband were alive, whiskey-soured and darting,

or in the literal gutter instead, with motorcycled men lit blue

in flashes attempting to identify grey matter, teeth, bone, glasses,

splattered, shattered, sharding the pavement, guard rail, trees, and grass.

Then the drone of exhausted rubber airless on asphalt ended the hour again.

 

NaPoMo#19

19 “Warning: Recruitment Zone Ahead”
Have you lost interest…?  Has the charm of wind
running its fingers through your hair as you fly
over the Charles River on the Harley of a truly
beautiful man lost its
Umph!? And the sailboats,
matching their crisp canvas shapes to the cloud-

dodging peak of the Bunker Hill Bridge as rays
of late April smile good-bye to S.A.D. for which
you never needed medication in the first place
—do those boats offer no invitation to toss off
your loafers and scoff at melanoma, bare toes

skipping the bus to tippy-toe the shoreful of kids
half-naked, suddenly fully in love? And the Sox,
tan muscles smacking baseballs clear over the Pike,
cannot inspire you to sit in an open-air pub with 3,
4 good friends and leave the laundry where it is?

No strolls by the Victory Garden for you? No shimmy
to the Berklee students’ outdoor drumbeat groove?
Have you a voice now in your head that makes you feel
Blue? Well, we’ll keep talking until you do. It’s alright
now. Just sign your name below. Welcome to the
Church of Scientology. God is listening to you.

 

Happy National Poetry Month!

In honor of NaPoMo, I have accepted the challenge of on-line poet friends to write a poem every day for the entire month of April.  I will only slog to the keyboard to type every now and again, being one of those old fogies who still uses ink first.  Write on, people! 

NAPOMO-2008, POEMS 1-17

1 Bean Counter


As a girl, she’d purposely kneel on the rickety chair, for that
was part of the ceremony. She’d heard the tale
of the little boy who brought back beans for his cow.

Shuffle. Sort. “1…2…3….” Pinch. Pick up. “How about
this one, Mummy?” Sometimes it wouldn’t be
a rock or grit of any sort; however,

her mother might say, “Oh, no. We don’t want
that in there at all. What a thorough job!”
Much later, she was a proofreader, then file-

clerk-finder of lost charts at the big university
hospital. Friends became mothers, counselors,
legal personnel. That was not for her though.

She swung in a swiveling chair on a cushion
brought from home, smiled at night, remembering
the occasional unusual beans she’d slipped

into pockets, metal lozenge boxes, and slid into
socks, tucked away where no one else coveted
them. How well she had loved each strange bean.



2 Skin Care


Morning becomes her. Well held, kissed,
licked, and rubbed at night, why bother
with creams, scrubs, dead seas’ serums?

Watching his deliberate reverse strip
each dawn–boxers, shirt, pants, tie
–she lolls naked, kisses him “Tonight….”

Risen by the re-set alarm, the manager strides
past “How does she do it?” with love crinkles
framing her fully-dressed “Good morning!”



3 Deckhand


Call me Ahab. I have chased the tale
that seems mine now and crept up on
then devoured myself, luring my purpose
with the chum of glory.

Which among us are savages? Who kens
which are God’s chosen? …chosen to do
what? To drown? To float? Who will rescue
me from this madman’s ticking watch?



4 Night Guard


I’ll be back in ten minutes.
I have to catch something, but as always,
can’t remember what it is. Yet, running,

coat flapping, gloves dropped, makes
the effort offical, real somehow.

Could be, it’s a plane. Maybe only
a spring cold. The only sure bet is
it will be missed. Oh, and that

without it, tomorrow I’ll be back
at work, having egg salad on rye.



5 Traitor


Where are you going, brother,
alone and unknown on the cold
train platform, late on this darkening night?

Even your own ears will not hear
the swing of a mugger’s knife,
the chug of the screeching train

…as you become immortal.

(Inspired somehow by a poem I memorized in middle school “Swing high, Iscariot…”)



6 Radiologist

She arrives without make-up, wigless,
then removes hat, hearing aids, and jewelry,
the bridges from her half-false teeth


–still a fine woman. I see her heart,
but wouldn’t know her if our toes
passed on Longwood Avenue.*

 


*A major street in a major medical area of Boston


7 Frontman Walking


When you’re the frontman, everyone expects
the best and worst at once, suspects
your bubble to burst on stage, where the rage
comes showering out as a hit song,
but somehow you still won’t belong.

You were the guy paid to act crazy. Lines
between career, life, and dreams got hazy–
Man!–when your drugged brain implied
that your shoes, so whole world, came untied.
And that time you stumbled alone down the hall,
after hitting the wall…signing your name to it all.

Now sober, still writing, your skulled ring just shrugs:
To hell with jerks saying, “He sounded better on drugs.”

[For Steven Tyler]



8 Sometimes Stupidity Cannot be Contained


Sometimes stupidity cannot be contained
in a mere day. She said, “get out,”
low and innocuous, but it was there.
His response a seething something
about “well, if I do, I’m never….”

leaves him still lounging on a couch,
a week later, then a month, best friend
shaking his head as five o’clock shadow
gets the best of him, worst left to his wife
of ten years who doesn’t miss his socks,

but still pours his mug of coffee.

(No idea where this was going–lost it halfway through.)

 


9 Hard-pressed

Autumn apples, hard-pressed to earn a living,
fermenting in the dark casks of their own juices,
turn saucy and boil over, then act all syrupy
before they crust over in resignation.



They line up in neat, neat big rows, always
ready to extend a branch, help a crabby neighbor
through rotten times, as if summer grew on trees.

 


10 You Think: Therefore


Don’t step off the curb while thinking,
especially if you’re a philosopher.

In theory, one can die twice and still
be immortal, but why chance it?

You’re no Ambrose, either. Ipso facto,
it is highly unlikely that you’ll disappear
while searching for vigilantes to join.

Friends might begin to worry about you
if your dry cleaning sits too long.

So, please, swallow yawns straight-up.
Excitement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.



11 In Profile


Being a stranger means not overstaying a welcome,
never disappointing, not caring about falling through
cracks in systems, or the ice, wherever one might be

missed. Besides, in retrospect everyone on the news
off-handedly loves the quiet boy next door. “He was
never any trouble, hardly even noticed him at all.”



12  The Best Remedy


(With apologies to RL Stevenson)When I was ill, alone in bed,
I had a rag wrapped round my head
–Filled with onions, bad advice,
For onions reek so once they’re sliced.
  

All about me on the quilt
Were magazines to read, sans guilt.
Thus I lay for hours til
My smelly headdress grew quite chill.

Then I got up and drew a bath
–With bubbles and a duck for laughs;
But gradually I got too hot. Oh!
Now I’m fine, I think, but blotto.




13 Staple


The screen door slammed, clattered, and Eve picked up
a sack of flour she didn’t really need, mostly because
it was in an actual sack. Grandma must’ve bought

plenty just like it back in the mountain days when ladies
had to think weeks or months ahead. Eve kept marbles
in one when she was a little girl, let it sleep with her dolls

to make it into a girl’s toy too. She was no girl now, having
sugar, cinnamon sticks, baking powder, canned milk–all one
might need to create a month of feasts for four–labeled

and stored in matched plastic tubs with hermetic(sp.) sealing.
Hers was the best-stocked pantry for miles. Back home,
she micro-steamed veggies. All she ever lacked was time.



14 First Draft


You cannot teach a poem the way you show a child
how to tie his shoes. For one thing, it’s alright
that words often get tied into knots, again and again,
before becoming useful. And neatness does not count,
or guarantee in any way at all that the poem won’t trip.

You cannot teach a poet the way you show a man
how to make love to you, his now woman. A man
will understand that his touch is always right when his
heart is in exactly the right spot. All a poet knows
is that the love of his life will never be satisfied.



15 About the Author


She cheated on her husband, and her kids
always looked like ragamuffins. She was,
you know, quite the drunk. The house was
in shambles. Her elderly mother wandered
often into traffic until a neighbor took her in.

Her editor, one of those many lovers taken–
taken for all they had and left to fend, like
the rest, for themselves–well, he washed up
one day. Dreadful bloated-blue, poor fool.
Writing was her life. She wrote well, died young.



16 The Son’s Apology


Oh, please, don’t give me wings,
then tell me not to use them!

I tried so hard, Father, to stay
within the limits, safe, like you.

I know I am indeed too close,
feel that it is over now, but I am–

or was–only human, and it,
Oh, it! Glowing with so much

energy and passion for me
that makes me laugh and cry–

Please, don’t you weep for me!
It’s the sun, O Father, it’s the sun!!



17 Batch


I found a word in ceramic today,
when I was looking for a cookie.
Something had bent the lone verb’s
spine, and I took pity on it, pressed it
with a rolling pin into green sugar until
its eyes glowed sticky-sweet into mine.

All night I thought about it, placed back
alone without the weight or smoothness
of wood to keep it fit to devour, but I
needn’t have worried. The top brimmed
by morning with nouns, adjectives, a modifier
dangling from the side. So I let the sentences
spill over the counter as I gulped my coffee.