—Photos by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA
This is the doorway time,
the passage from youth
Where we use words
we almost understand
and display emotions
we don’t quite yet know
A swift movement is made
from one room to the next;
the mover feels inexorable
but we watch the transition
fly by our faces like a gust
of sweet-smelling air.
The boxers lean heavily on one
another like two sagging towers.
My father’s face is red with frustration
and also leans forward, hand poised
on his knee, a glass of buttermilk close
by (how does he drink it?).
From the kitchen, my mother complains
about fighting. She wants him to let me
watch cartoons. But there are not cartoons
on anymore. Sometimes
the fighters jump like those hopping beans
in the check-out line, which I never see
anymore. They dodge and parry and thrust
like living swords. But this fight is slow
and bloated, the gloves seem heavier, eyes
seem thicker, but the crowd seems unfazed.
The faces we knew
when we were young have faded.
Their photographs have curled
at the edges, their features
scratched out by time.
The old house used to stand,
but first it was broken into,
looted by the family,
then casually burned down.
They took grandmother away, too,
and she passed from earth
like three of her nine sons.
Maybe she is greeted now, in some
great city, but we not longer see
her in this place.
THE JOURNEY SHE TOOK
It was long and there was
Her mother died
On a snowy evening.
It would evoke images of Frost
If it weren’t so damn tragic.
Speaking of tragic, Robert Frost’s
Reading voice, though he had
She does not believe in herself,
Her own greatness held as a myth.
Yet I know I would give up
All to just ease her or help her
Or even glimpse her.
The poem begins with
The best of intentions, but a cable
Drama about zombies is on.
It was indigo and rising
Then I had to get some garlic
Cloves. The recipe calls.
Finally, I can add to that indigo
A shining visage of—
Never mind, too tired to contemplate,
Trying to read, trying to listen
But I must shave early in the morning.
He’s got moves, but the music
is all wrong for the occasion,
doing his funeral dirge
toe-drag at the wedding reception,
it’s a bad number.
I am glad I am not the only one
who occasionally accidentally smiles
at wakes, or does not know what to say,
glancing down at loss,
running empty on wit and words.
I am glad I am not the only one
reduced to series of mumbles
and jerky motions on a regular basis.
Never fear, the story is the same,
although the cast is somewhat updated
(they are all so young now and have new
surgeries, while the old cast is being
carefully repaired) the plotlines are like
comfort pillows, soft and cushy, full of air,
the characters broadly drawn, reminding one
of the way some horoscopes are written,
the exposition is barely necessary, the action
rushing to a climax, and the dénouement
tastefully brief so that the audience clearly
sees the set-up for the sequel.
The smears of what used to be written
here can still be made out, but never mind,
because the new version is much cleaner.
Do not even worry about the prior edition;
he was prone to outburst, had bad skin,
liked to cuss without art, and did not know
the proper use of the semicolon, thought you
had to use a comma before too when terminating
a sentence. In short, he was a mess, but this new
bit of scribble really makes up for the minor
inconveniences…of course, I am sure there are
errors here, as well, as editing is a constant process
leading up to the loud, slapping close of the book.
MASTER OF THE BACKYARD
Squeal of insect or rattle
of neighbor, knocking of the tree
sounds, invaders not welcome here
Can’t you see the posted signs?
So, to the rodent, I offer impaling
On the spike of my small ego.
—Medusa, with thanks to JD DeHart for joining us at the Kitchen table today! These poems first appeared on Gadfly Online.
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