[I] may be crazy but I'm the closest thing I have to a voice of reason.

19 February 2010

Poems from ON THE BODY

Tonight I’m revisiting my first love, poetry. What follows are poems from my collection On the Body.

Poetry is written to be read aloud, of course, so go ahead and try it. No one’s listening but you. ^_~

Unnamable Things

I cannot name the poison in my mother’s veins.
I name the spirits but that’s just the pain
killer. That it is also poison is
coincidence. I cannot name the blindness
making it possible for her to *not* see herself not
see the sun the sky me the fact
that the world around her is not a stage.
She wears a face I can never again
compare myself to the scotch in her coffee
cup the vodka in her overnight bag the now
empty bottle of whatever it was you had
in your cabinet; these liquids
running down her face like boiling water
on wax dragging features of the woman
who taught me how
to use my own face. I can feel
but cannot name her
sorrow; the goal:

The ferocity of my father’s love so strong
I wrote his new wife and pleaded *mercy* this love
he had for what he thought lost forever
this love of a father for his first born this love
for the child most like him love I last
felt at age three carried in his arms
not again till twenty; the love sent nightly
from an Elvis-lipped soldier behind the lines always
behind the lines parachuting on reconnaissance or rescue or
re-enacting some other unnamed-but-clearly-ordered ritual
‘police action’ involving a rifle a bomb a fatal
accident; this force of love kept his heart whole
though body and mind split
open; this force, this father’s love made it
possible even for me
to come home.


Moving in the Dark

Suitcase in hand we steal
room to room
into mislabeled boxes full
of bedding and books and pictures
of the mover
the moved grasping
the brass ring
of each door opening
to headlights
that pace the room and perch
on the arm of the best chair before
veering onto asphalt
roads that drink the light. Tongues thick
lips pressed softly calling
at the door of life we
follow in miles
of pick-up trucks that rumble bump
and grind like a burlesque
teasing the horizon. In the morning
day rolls over turns his coldest
shoulder to the rattle of the clock that never tells
just how early how


Step Ladder

Baby blues business blue blind
blue all men have blue eyes. I
love to wear blue color of the sky
god. Self-made man my new blue-eyed father

could fly. No partners but I
could hand up the slide rule measure aluminum strap
duct tape read centimeters diameters
length circumference and proportion though I knew
not what I did I helped him. Evenings

watched him standing in the sky: creamcicle
clouds swirled city night
blue behind his eyes and me
holding the ladder. His faraway eyes
on a third wife a fourth teenage daughter

my step father fills his days and miles
with blue graph paper stock and blue wax
pencils connecting dot to dot corners
of handwriting that won’t bend.
Grid-lined and thin

the castoff shirt in which I work
and dream I see his eyes blue
and yellow-beige with a red
thread running through.


For Billy; for All the People
and Things I Cannot Have

I could have jumped into your arms
against a chest cushioned in the past. Your
face unchanged and yet grown thicker, deeper
like all our pasts. You don’t remember me
sixth grade but Mrs. Lary “She
hated me” you say. I remember I liked you liked
everyone though they never knew. After your
grown man’s hand leaves my shoulder
warm after I have hurried against
my heart to meet those eyes give
the directions you stopped me for I think
of the boy I knew only from the side:
always grinning or pink-mouthed with laughter
and the pimple on your left ear small white
against dark skin, the only thing that kept you
from being perfect. Seventh grade the year
Grandma says “I didn’t know you had
darkies in the neighborhood” and I turn
to see a man like the one I see now.

Time leaks
like heat from an old house slipping
through all the cracks and I pay
for each minute but it is not mine cannot be
mine cannot be
kept in a rag bag for some rainy afternoon
quilting together the chased moments of a woman’s life, ten
minutes for a cup of coffee twenty with a friend
in need an hour away from the kids the clamor
of life that I've been sold. Dirty pennies of time let them lie
too small too frantic for a pattern I will not live:
hunting happily for pockets of pleasure tidbits
of entertainment chasing the boredom of contentment
with games
making more
money or stitching
a reality stretched unraveled rewoven arranged and re-
arranged draped like so much rayon on a nervous bride
at a pauper’s wedding. Daily that girl will exchange
needs desires the longing for love for
a few coins a cookie a “me too”
from her husband’s mouth the dreams of her perfect
twenty-year-old body slipping into a past that has already eaten
the banquet of her future.

I am my own woman. Alone
at twelve I crawled out into the night up
the hill drawn past street lights and construction
to places unknown drawn
as I am now to my lover’s chest. I said
nothing then I say nothing now releasing
screams that family could never hear, screams my
lover hunts the way I hunt his night skin his lips
curled like a twelve-year-old on the floor
of an unfinished house
the one with the open door
the pink shag carpet.


  1. only the present day shorthand will suffice: OMG.


  2. Hi Dina...sorry for the belated comment but it took me a while to accomplish the behind-the-scenes events to make it happen.

    My mother has published two poetry books;

    Grandma Proses, copyright 1985
    Abstractions, copyright 1991
    both by Shirley A. Bender

    Mom has enjoyed writing for most of her life. When you posted 'Poems from ON THE BODY', I knew I had to get my mother's take. Mom is not a computer person so I printed out a copy of your Blog, which at the time of printing your latest entry was 'My Zero Birthday'. I copied everything you posted up to this date and asked her to review it and if so inclined, add her comments so that I could reiterate them to you. Here's what she had to say;

    Regarding 'Unnamable Things (I)'

    The line, "...like boiling water on wax dragging features..." she says, '...very beautiful and commanding image'.


    Regarding 'Unnamable Things (II)'

    This poem is much more powerful and introspective than anything I've ever written. If someone this good can't get published, there's little or no hope for the rest of us.


    Regarding 'Moving in the Dark'

    The line, "...asphalt roads that drink the light" she says, '...excellent description.'

    The line, "...the clock that never tells time just how early how late." she says, '...Very original concept of a clock's function.'


    Regarding 'Step Ladder'

    Can't relate to this one. If I knew the poet and or the circumstance that caused her to write STEP LADDER, I'm sure I could relate to her meaning.


    Regarding, 'For Billy; for All the People and Things I cannot Have'

    The line, "...a past that has already eaten the banquet of her future." she says, '...beautiful image'. [TRYING TO BREATHE', (pg.18 G.ma Proses), my poetic attempt at expressing some of the same feelings in 'For Billy']

    Visit my Blog (http://coffeenuts-iam.blogspot.com/) to read mom's poem, 'Trying to Breathe'...and many others.


    Regarding, 'Waiting on the World to Change'

    This writer seems to be obsessed with TIME. (and the ravages there of). There seems to be no concept (at least verbally) of the benefits of maturity. She seems to look at her life thru 'what-is-lost' glasses instead of 'what-is-found' thru living. ONE DAY AT A TIME SWEET JESUS! ...and we're lucky if we get even that!

    Mom suggested I share with you a couple more of her poems, 'Last Will and Testament for the 21st Century' and 'ANANKE (what has to be)'...both of these have been posted to my Blog if you're so inclined.

    Last night we had my folks out for dinner and I showed mom your Blog to give her a feel for all the additional posts you have made since your 'My Zero Birthday' excerpt. Longer story short, she hopes to read more of your blog in the future via my fathers computer.

    As I've told you not long ago Dina, I myself am not a prolific reader so to the extent my 2-cents worth of comments will be of any use to you will likely be slim to none. However that said, your Blog has sparked a new interest in me previously thought to be non-existent...I do enjoy reading your Blog, albeit the often and somewhat difficult content and will continue to do so.

    Thanks for sharing,