Mugshot of Grandma by Kristene Brown


If this photo could speak
    it would
slur, it would spit. Framed
in hard edges,
black and white, her face
a fight,
a riot
     of broken lines
in dirt worn cheeks.
Taken, the night she charged
into every rowdydow honky-tonk
west of Warsaw,
     looking
for that mean old mister
Pop-Pop. Her hair fist-knotted
     into the bog-slosh
     of tears and mud
tangled into some long night,
last call,
     whiskey, beer,
        fuck it all.
Her mouth a slow drawl
     yodel-ladee
song and dance
of handcuffed backtalk
in that cattle-dusted
back lot where she found him
     with her,
the other woman.
In the photo her eyes are closed
as if she's crying
or is about to.
     Captured
in a quick white flash—
     shot
when she wasn't even looking.

 

 

 


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Sod Webworm 107

I don’t know
I’m depressed
I can’t go hiking
or biking
or do anything except
harvest bittersweet nightshade
and play with the roots of hemlock

so lonely now
so lonely now
so out of sorts now
so lacking now
so what now

we move
on to something different
something more/less satisfying
something more/less gratifying
joysuffering awaits

detachment
a practice

poetry, a countermeasure

 

September by Jennifer Michael Hecht

Tonight there must be people who are getting what they want.
I let my oars fall into the water.
Good for them. Good for them,getting what they want.

The night is so still that I forget to breathe.
The dark air is getting colder. Birds are leaving.

Tonight there are people getting just what they need.

The air is so still that it seems to stop my heart.
I remember you in a black and white photograph
taken this time of some year. You were leaning against
a half-shed tree, standing in the leaves the tree had lost.

When I finally exhale it takes forever to be over.

Tonight, there are people who are so happy,
that they have forgotten to worry about tomorrow.

Somewhere, people have entirely forgotten about tomorrow.
My hand trails in the water.
I should not have dropped those oars. Such a soft wind.

 

 

 

(transcribed from The Best American Poetry book series 1999)

Her books for sale

Six Apologies, Lord by Olena Kalytiak Davis

I Have Loved My Horrible Self, Lord.
I Rose, Lord, and I Rose, Lord, And I,
Dropt. Your Requirements, Lord. ‘Spite Your Requirements, Lord,
I have Loved The Low Voltage Of The Moon, Lord,
Until There Was No Moon Intensity Left, Lord, No Moon Intensity Left
For You, Lord. I Have Loved The Frivolous, The Fleeting, The Frightful
Clouds. Lord, I Have Loved The Clouds! Do Not Forgive Me, Do Not
Forgive Me LordandLover, HarborandMaster, GuardianandBread, Do Not.
Hold Me, Lord, O, Hold Me

Accountable, Lord. I Am
Accountable. Lord.

Lord It Over Me,
Lord It Over Me, Lord. Feed Me

Hope, Lord. Feed Me
Hope, Lord, Or Break My Teeth.

Break My Teeth, Sir,

In This My Mouth.

Concerning Birds along a Hillside by Jeff Hardin

                to Jan LaPerle


You wouldn't believe the birds here, wild spinnings
after so many months of cold—I can scarcely think
for all the noise they make, but maybe that's
a blessing since I'm never sure what thoughts
have brought me anyway. Strange companions.
Broken things, really. I try to give a few to you
in hope our worlds might overlap or be more
clearly understood. I learned from Dickinson
that thoughts remain unfinished—from where
or why they come no one can say. Just up the hill
an ash tree leans away from where the others reach.
I've studied it a decade now. I, too, lean away
from where the day is heading. From the one,
most likely, I'll become. From every understanding
I have found and entertained. And not because
I am dissatisfied and not because the thoughts I know
are weary, small, or lacking purpose. I guess
because they feel like guesses in the end. I guess
because they're trapped by what they can't imagine,
trapped by what's in front of them, trapped by words,
the only form they take. What if we, in holding
who we think we are, completely miss the self
we might have come to be? What other questions
might have framed our joys and fears? I'm not asking
for an answer, nor am I asking to be mended by
a moment's trace of what our being here will mean.
I guess I'm asking if the noise we make will fill the sky.
Is thought the closest we can get to being other
than the self that has the thought? Is ever you?


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Maya Angelou’s Birthday

Maya Angelou's book of PoemsGoogle, today, honored Maya Angelou on what would be her 90th b-day. They did this with a Google Doodle of one of her famous poems: “Still I Rise” https://g.co/doodle/hqbawy?ds=em I like this poem well enough but wish they wouldn’t have chopped it up with guest readers. Too sappy for my taste. Safe. Accessible. Vanilla for the masses.

Reaching for a collection of her poems on my shelf and thumbing through it one is reminded of so many less safe (for children) challenging, Rocky-Road with Tabasco on top… pieces; poems that I wouldn’t consider reprinting here. She was brave, raw, and real much of the time. She’s not my favorite poet but she could really “bring it” sometimes and I am so grateful she wrote and grateful I’ve had a chance to read some of her books and much of her poetry.

Here’s a poem I came across while flipping through her book just now: (still safe for young readers)

Africa

Thus she had lain
sugar cane sweet
deserts her hair
golden her feet
mountains her breasts
two Niles her tears
Thus she has lain
Black through the years.

Over the white seas
rime white and cold
brigands ungentled
icicle bold
took her young daughters
sold her strong sons
churched her with Jesus
bled her with guns.
Thus she has lain.

Now she is rising
remember her pain
remember the losses
her screams loud and vain
remember her riches
her history slain
now she is striding
although she had lain.


Google. Thank you for reminding me of Maya Angelou today.