Most deemed it sinister, not long ago,
to let a child write without his right.
They must have thought the student didn’t know
which hand they’d handle best; they loathed the sight.
We hear they forced the child from the deft,
and righted him as if there were a law
against the natural favoring of left,
coercing him to use the northern paw.
That schooling made the student write confused
and awkward, twisting sideways out of true.
The child was scholastically abused
to mesh with a prevailing point of view.
Am I engaged in training just as mean
by forcing mine to keep their bedrooms clean?
We picked the new year puzzle yesterday:
a comic illustration of a bar
with aliens at drink, at fight, at play.
The thing won’t interlock – most pieces are
designed to lean together and abut.
There’s nothing definite about the fit.
We don’t applaud the way the die has cut,
but we can’t argue with the shapes of it.
The object is to piece the scene together
without the box top, fast as we are able,
for this predicts the months ahead, and whether
we’ll have the use tomorrow of our table.
Of course we don’t know what the year will bring;
we solve and hope it’s surer than this thing.
My brother’s hands are morphing into claws.
The doctor said the nodules were a sign
that he inherited a mix of flaws
that made his tendons pull. At 49
they started to compel his hands to curve.
His fingers seemed to start to make a fist
but hesitate, as if they lost their nerve
at air-embracing talons. He’ll insist
it’s medical – his surgery was botched.
And that’s the truth but only part; you see,
I’ve known my brother all his life and watched
the loving strokes he’s borne since infancy
as favorite. Stigmata on each palm
reveal how long he’s longed to throttle Mom.
My daughter doesn’t want a poem to rhyme,
and meter makes her chant the words she reads.
She’d rather voice atonally, and time
her syllables to sanguinary needs.
She’s eager for the shock of the profane,
the punch perverse, the twist of shifted signs,
and little cares if content can explain,
as long as sound and fury fill the lines.
Her mother’s poetry can never please her
regardless of its purpose and intent,
its code as disciplined as any Morse.
It can’t do more than irritate and tease her
when it avoids a blurt for excrement,
or slang for metaphor for intercourse.
You’re beautiful, although you do your best
to broadcast unattractive with your style:
the glaring hair, attire always messed,
and indignation overruling smile.
My parents sang to me the same old song,
and I contested angrily like you,
and even though I knew my folks were wrong,
I caught a bit of wisdom from their view.
Now I don’t think your image summons those
with whom I wish you’d never socialize –
it’s your own hair, and sure you can compose
yourself – but if you choose to cross your eyes,
my mom says “Watch it! You might freeze that way”
(for habits of expression tend to stay).
The man-child misbehaves again at school;
his sister strives to look a little worse.
December is too busy, festive, cruel –
until the solstice self must be immersed
in working and performing for a role
I challenge and resent with all my heart.
I wobble nearly out of self-control.
It feels like I can’t savor any part.
So here am I, full-occupied today
with shopping, entertaining, office chores.
I sprayed the dog and then she ran away.
My glasses lost their temple screw once more.
I feel so overloaded I could shout,
so stress and feet and syllables pour out.
Remembering the birth day of my son –
I had to get that child out of me.
His shoulders stuck, and I had only one
more pushing chance at quick delivery.
That’s when the doctor looked into my eyes
and spoke: “Push through the pain” she said with force.
I heard, I did, and it was a surprise
that doing was much easier of course
than contemplating difficult essay.
(So hills look steeper till we come up near
and fear of future amplifies dismay.)
That obstetrician gave me two things dear:
a baby boy (my duty and delight),
and verbal amulets to vanquish fright.