Dot

I love Teresa Stouffer’s compassion for the older folks who sometimes inhabit her poems.  Teresa is a member of my poetry workshop group in State College.

Wheelchairs circle
the worker
dispensing
pills on plastic spoons.
I step over a man’s legs,
drool-soiled napkin on his thigh,
kiss Dot hello on her whiskery face,
a woman’s sticky hand tugs me.
Perfume and bowel odors
mingle, cloud the hallway.
I breathe through my mouth.
Meds swallowed,
Dot spits out,
“Are you in a hurry?”
In her room,
I snip the hairs on her chin.
Dot says,
“All I do is sit
and eat.
And I don’t feel much like eating anymore.
When will you be back? ”

– Teresa Stouffer

P.S.  New prompts are up on the Prompts page.

In Lieu of a Photograph

“. . . she curved to her task with deft, balletic grace.”

I wish I knew the full name of this poet.  I found this poem several years ago in one of the monthly Goodreads contests, with the name “Jordan” as the author.  Every time I read it, I fall in love with the images all over again.  If anyone knows more about this person, please let me know.  Google has been no help at all.

 

I am no good at photography.

I lack the necessary subtlety–I am too literal.
I shove the lens right into the center of my subject,
Like a punch to the gut,
Causing the context to crumple around it.

But I sat once at close of day, looking up at a bridge where
Women, silhouetted against the setting sun, made their graceful ways home carrying
Great buckets and baignoires on their heads.

You will have to imagine, I’m afraid, the way their dark bodies were made darker in relief
And the herd-like elegance–not of mindless association,
But natural interconnectedness–of their movement.

A familiar noise made the baby look up from the mat where we were playing.

I followed his gaze to find my sister framed in the doorway, the sheer curtain fluttering between us.
She was folded over a calabash bowl of rice
Making the starch-laden rinse water cascade across her caramel-colored arm,
Which she curved to her task with deft, balletic grace.

There are some–employed by National Geographic, no doubt–
Who could have captured the beauty of this moment–
The way the early Fall light made everything jewel-bright–
With a single “click” of a camera shutter.

But I am no good at photography.

– Jordan

Recuerdo

“… the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.”

When I started writing poems in high school, I discovered and fell in love with the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay.  I still have the book of her collected poems I received from my folks one Christmas.  Here is an early poem of hers, and one my favorites,  Ah, young love…

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

– Edna St, Vincent Millay
From  A Few Figs From Thistles 

Brazilian Telephone

This poem by Miriam Bird Greenberg. . . well, when you read it you’ll know why I am at a loss for words.  You can learn more about this gifted writer and read more of her poetry here.

In the peach orchard in an old bathtub
the children are standing someone
in a bath of salt water, and one
gently attaches electrodes
to the nipples of the one
in the bath. Out of the weeds runs one
with a rescued battery from the old
motor home, which they had gotten
to rev its engine like the sad bleating
of a goat. If, later, anyone asks
how they learned to do this, in a striped shirt one
will say, Oh, I was looking for science
experiments in those old textbooks someone
got from the library book sale last year.
I have been baking all day,
and in a few minutes will start to wonder
what happened to that box of coarse kosher salt
I got just last week.
The children are all singing
some ditty from a musical
we saw at the community theater
a few days ago, and, in the tub the one
with electrodes affixed so gently
to his chest is calling
out little mews of uncertainty,
is calling and calling into the sundown
past the knotted trees with their hairy
fruits, green and hard. Hush,
hush, don’t worry, another one
is saying, fingernail following a line of text
in a complicated book. I think this one
is called the Brazilian Telephone, one
says, connecting finally,
after all this build-up, the ends of two
wires to the battery terminals
which, with steel wool stolen from the kitchen,
they had cleaned so carefully
earlier in the day.

– Miriam Bird Greenberg
  First published in Poetry Magazine
  Republished in her book, Pact-Blood, Fever Grass

 

Old Photographs

Gabeba Baderoon is a South African poet who teaches at Penn State in Women’s Studies and African Studies.  I love to go to her readings.  They are always evenings of insight and passion.  This poem is from her newest book of poetry.  You can learn more about Gabeba through this great article about her.

Old Photographs

On my desk is a photograph of you
taken by the woman who loved you then.

In some photos her shadow falls
in the foreground.  In this one,
her body is not that far from yours.

Did you hold your head that way
because she loved it?

She is not invisible, not
my enemy, nor even the past.
I think I love the things she loved.

Of all your old photographs, I wanted
this one for its becoming.  I think
you were starting to turn your head a little,
your eyes looking slightly to the side.

Was this the beginning of leaving?

– Gabeba Baderoon
  Previously published in A Hundred Silences

 

The Weight

One drunken night he lay on the coach road and she lay beside him.

“The Weight” is by my friend Ryan Stone who lives in Melbourne, Australia.  More of his fine poetry can be found at Days of Stone.

Faerie Lights on the Dark Road by Faustus-Faunus

One drunken night, he lay on the coach road
and she lay beside him. He pictured a truck
descending – wobbling around corners,
gaining momentum. They spoke about crushes,

first kisses. He told her of an older woman
who’d stolen a thing he couldn’t replace.
He tried to describe the weight of lost things.
She listened until he stopped,
until I stopped

hiding behind he. I felt small,
watching the cosmos churn
while I lay on the coach road
one summer night, speaking
of big things
and nothing.

Ryan Stone
First published in Algebra of Owls
Photo:  “Fairie Lights on the Dark Road”
by Faustus Faunus

PS  New prompts are up on the Prompts page.

First blog post

I used to have a website…

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I used to have a website where I collected all of my published poems in a kind of portfolio.  But there are great poems and poets out there I’d like to share,

and people I want to interact with,

and prompts

and ideas about writing that might be helpful to other writers and poets.

So I decided blogging would be the way to go.  I’ve populated my pages just a little so you’ll have something to see when you visit, and I promise to put up a few new prompts as a P.S. in my post every Sunday so if you hit a dry spell, click the link.  Maybe you will find some inspiration.  I’ll also publish poems that made me laugh or cry, and maybe they’ll move you too and introduce you to new voices.

Take a look around, click the “follow” button if you’d like to get my updates (and those ever-useful prompts) and leave me a note so I can meet you too.  Thanks for visiting!

Sarah