—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento, CA
the year was 1983
not quite Orwellian, not the
terror of Winston Smith
reduced broken bone by broken bone
to a being without
passion, will, courage
by omnipotent dystopian state
after seven years of fundraising around America
volunteer for my church
living as a nun, no sex, no personal life
too little sleep, too little joy
still dutiful, still working
in Manhattan, witnessing, more fundraising
daily on six hours of sleep
but I’d vomit my breakfast
from exhaustion, from the smell of garbage
cooking on the August streets
from the stress of my arranged fiancé having
left the church with a girlfriend
I was so tired after years of it all
each morning, we were given $5 for food and coffee
evangelized with tracts
outside of Bloomingdale’s
stepping carefully by the homeless
who sat on the streets’ hot air vents, over subways
who slept in the entry halls of Grand Central, back then
I wandered up Fifth Avenue one afternoon
clutching my tracts
discovered the new Trump Tower
coins spent, I couldn’t buy coffee there
but could, and did, ride the elevator
up toward the penthouse, then down to
sit in the atrium, people-watch
take a break from the tracts
marvel at the lavish show
giant column, golden calf
my mind empty, sad, lonely, reeling.
SKIN COVERS ME
my skin was oily in my teens
Stridex and Ivory soap
blush, mascara, eyelash curler
brush rollers digging into my scalp overnight
hair went flat one hour out anyway
my twenties brought liberation from
Seventeen magazine’s dictates
fierce 1970s independence
skin glowing, makeup-free
in my hag years now
peer into the bathroom mirror
look back through decades
feel their weight and contents
see beauty in tired eyes, wrinkles, tissue-thin skin
OVER FIELDS, THROUGH RIVERS,
DOWN CONCRETE PATHS
if I believe you
when you say you don’t care,
if I run away from you
toward a new life somewhere,
will you look for me
in your unbearable pain,
when you realize
the only antidote
would be telling me you lied
you love me
you want me
you are sorry
will you follow me over fields,
through rivers, cities, concrete paths,
rain-soaked redwoods, Illinois flatlands?
will you walk behind me
still too shy or troubled
to admit you’ve come all this way?
will you ever catch up to me,
reach out your hand,
stop my sustained scream,
wash my bloodstained soul
with your tear-soaked hair?
I don’t believe you
when you say you don’t care
A WOMAN’S LOVE
when I was a girl
Dad’s bass voice thundered
his arms were strong,
his lap warm
I could make him smile
I’d listen on tiptoe
feel just how much to say
when to be silent
as if oceans spanned between us
so much could never be said
now that I’m a woman
the right man for me
must also be strong and warm
but I must be able to
say anything to him
no fear of being misunderstood
—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento, CA
His gift to me: an old brass clock.
I always loved the way
he held it in his hands. It leaves
a shadow on my bedroom wall.
Tonight my love seems close—
the tinging of the old clock bells.
We missed our chance at wedding bells,
of ever getting close.
We’ve never broken down the walls.
Such bitter memories it leaves—
the chance we had and threw away.
Regret remains, and this old clock.
—Carol Louise Moon
“Whoever loves on Pawnee Rock
will love always and always.”
—The Corner Stone by
Margaret Hill McCarter, 1915
In a land of golden waving wheat
there rests a large flat stone, an outcrop
the eye can see from a distance. They call
this place on the prairie Pawnee Rock.
Now, Pawnee Rock sits under a vast blue sky.
This is where two lovers meet;
hand-in-hand they step and stand atop.
How like a vow, a shared stance,
a loving bond—and when they walk away—
they know their love will always last.
ULEAN BAGPIPE DREAMS
—Carol Louise Moon
For weeks in dreams the distant bagpipes played.
I wondered if I would see or really hear them
until this dream came true in early autumn.
I waded, pants rolled up, across a stream—
a summer stream where children played and
elbow bagpipe players sat on logs in sand.
They played some jigs for me at my request,
the Welsh and Irish tunes I’d always known—
till now, heard only on my granddad’s gramophone.
—Carol Louise Moon
I’m dreaming again of the bagpipe players,
the sand, the rocks in the river, the layers
of strange sweet sounds returning to me.
A wonderful blend of note and hue
once painted by fancy, has now come true.
(first pub. in Brevities)
Our thanks to today’s contibutors, noting that Carol Louise Moon’s third poem, “Ulean Bagpipe Dreams”, is a Spenserian Stanza: x, a, a, x, b, b, x, c, c (no set rhyme pattern required). Give one of those a shot for an “extra-credit” Seed of the Week!
Speaking of love, the annual Love Poetry Contest, sponsored by the Benicia Historical Museum and Benicia Library, is accepting submissions until Nov. 30. Since 2004, this contest has “honored with poetry the love affair of early California’s Concepcion Argüello and Russia’s Nikolai Rezanov.” See www.americanjourneys.org/aj-128/summary for their love story, and go to www.benicialibrary.org/poet/events for details about the contest.
Lots of poetry events this weekend, including the Writers Round-up Retreat in Angels Camp starting today; the Sac. City College English Dept. reading tomorrow from 3:30-4:30pm; Dianna Henning and Susan Kelly-DeWitt reading at Fausel House in Placerville tomorrow, 3-5pm; and Juan Luis Guzmán and Joseph Rios at Mosaic of Voices (Avid Reader at Tower) in Sac., 2pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
Love: a burnt match skating in a urinal.
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