and says, Poetry is too much about words.
It makes my head spin trying to figure out
all that meaning. Not like the TV Guide
or a good crossword or anything
off the plastic cart at Waldenbooks.
The mall, now that’s a subject
you won’t find in a poem.
Raisin pretzels dipped in bleu cheese.
Fat lasagna black as pitch at the edge.
Do you know I once watched an entire
movie in a Suncoast store?
Poetry is too academic, says the Dean
at the college where I teach nurses
to write, and I can hardly disagree.
After all, I went into writing to make people think
about life and death and morality
but my readers stand between 5- and 20-thousand
according to the latest poll of poetry readers
and these are people already thinking
about how pathetic things are
how lonely and alone we all pretend not to be
-- the crux of all poems --
and the power of this sadness to make us change,
to hoist the life jacket from its box
of undertow and drape it on, smell and all.
What can I teach the woman at the diner,
not the one supporting kids and going to school
for Nietzsche at night –
I’m talking about the other one, you know,
the one who sucks dirt from her nails
while she’s writing your order.
What can poetry show her?
How can I help you?
The Double-T Waitress Spots My Poem*
The old man’s ego spread clean and high
as cornstarch or egg retrieval or twig blight
or any modern thing.
In the sentinel world of the cloth,
it’s Kathleen Newton’s face we see shining back,
anything remotely resembling our lives
meant to get caught in that feather duster dress.
Pshaw. Forget it. There’s talk enough already
to roost lanterns in the room.
We know what we see: a good mix.
Tomorrow will be chin-wagging and causerie,
but this night’s for him to kiss gloves,
press ballspendes to a jealous wife’s breast.
Tissot’s L’Ambitieuse (The Political Woman)
There was this bum living at the bottom of a lake
who kept talking my ear off about things.
I pretended not to hear but he recognized the lie.
On and on, he had the answers to everything.
He didn’t like me much, he said. His
was a combination of excess and reserve, a life
which wound him at the bottom of a wave.
He had an endless supply of characters who could
shoulder the blame for his misshapen life, yet
somehow my name sequentially made the list.
I tried adjusting my tympanic membrane
like a backwoods radio to filter the noise.
Men wait lives to get revenge on guys like this,
I’d think, glad for once he’d not hear back.
Most times he lead me nowhere by the ring.
Then a buildup of gladiolus, heartache
and the prize.
*The Double T Waitress Spots My Poem first appeared in the chapbook Social Smile
published by Finishing Line Press.