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.
He volunteered five days and then returned
to me, my irritant and nightly bore,
and three more passed before my husband learned
how much the trip fatigued him to the core.
“I’m getting old,” he said. “I didn’t know
a camping trip would be so hard on me.”
The ground for bed, four dozen kids: how slow,
nostalgic or delusional is he?
Of course he was exhausted – anyone
would bend beneath the stress of seventh grade.
The video shows episodes of fun,
but noise and lack of insulation made
his perspiration drain him in the sun,
and shot apart the silence in the shade.
My son proposed a walk the other day,
sufficiently important that he chose
it over all his games. He knew the way
without the map he made, for I suppose
a place this special isn’t soon forgot.
We took a path unknown to me before,
on quiet trails, and we encountered not
another person, as we noted more
bay laurel leaves and rounded stones and trees
than we could count. We found his waterfall
and watched a valley fan to width, a frieze
of foliage upon its eastern wall.
I can’t compress what Danny made me see,
and I will keep it for eternity.
The Rasta man says I and I for we
(who celebrates the sunset as he davens to the beat).
He enterprises individually
(a ganja loving spirit sunning lion shunning meat).
The Ethiopian colors crown his mane
(against the black the growth, the blood, the blazing of the sun).
The man is irie seldom acting vain
(his silken muscles, welcome eyes, inviting everyone).
But Rasta woman isn’t to be found
upon the cliffs, athwart the western sky.
She’s hidden like the lady unicorn,
an undiscovered symbol gone to ground.
And when I think she utters I and I,
she means as well as real her self unborn.