Every day in April, you put a poem in our lunch boxes to celebrate poetry month. the internet is your lunchbox and every month is april.
Fragile like a child is fragile.
Destined not to be forever.
Destined to become other
To mother. Here I am
Sitting on a chair, thinking
About you. Thinking
About how it was
To talk to you.
How sometimes it was wonderful
And sometimes it was awful.
How drugs when drugs were
Undid the good almost entirely
But not entirely
Because good could always be seen
Glimmering like lame glimmers
In the window of a shop
Things Never Last Forever.
I loved you. I love you. You were.
And you are. Life is experience.
It’s all so simple. Experience is
The chair we sit on.
The sitting. The thinking
Of you where you are a blank
To be filled
In by missing. I loved you.
I love you like I love
All beautiful things.
True beauty is truly seldom.
You were. You are
In May. May now is looking onto
The June that is coming up.
This is how I measure
The year. Everything Was My Fault
Has been the theme of the song
I’ve been singing,
Even when you’ve told me to quiet.
I haven’t been quiet.
I’ve been crying. I think you
Have forgiven me. You keep
Putting your hand on my shoulder
When I’m crying.
Thank you for that. And
For the ineffable sense
Of continuance. You were. You are
The brightest thing in the shop window
And the most beautiful seldom I ever saw.
MARY JO BANG
Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.
We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.
My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one’s alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.
And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in their stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.
When the best of it is prized from the dung
of the Sumatran common palm civet,
sweetened like a cherry in the gut
of this little island cat, I feel better
about not drinking coffee, sipping instead sweet
tea crude as a hammer. I feel
better that I never read much
Tolstoy, stopped at the bulwark of so much
French. I should begin
a second life. I should not dream
of my macrobiotic afterlife
in which I am what I do not eat
and the animals I loved enough
to eat grass, to pretend one thing was another,
purr and sing and chirp
sweet hosannas outside my bedroom window
where sometimes we made
love but never continuances
of our selves which we’d name
Hank or Emily while saving up for Harvard.
I feel better that none of me
works well at all,
that for twenty years the fog
has never lifted
from the landscape I mean to cease defiling
someday. Thank you
cards I should have mailed
and gifts given
and favors repaid with crippling interest
I grow to love
the way I once loved
shame. What will I do with my days
now that my nights
are sublimely alone
and how will I make use of this wound
I carried like a map
so that I would never, never
of motherhood is splintered, frenzied, but struggling to sound calm,
it’s soy beans on the door mat and raspberry jam on the baseboard,
it’s relinquishing utopian desires for quiet and cups of tea,
it’s never finishing a meal but eating scraps of your child’s food
after he has chewed it thoughtfully and you believed gratefully only
to disgorge it into your outstretched hand, his saliva your saliva,
it’s him reaching for your face in the dark and sinking back relieved,
it’s that first, longed-for kiss, slow and premeditated, laying aside
his things and walking up and kissing you full on the lips with his
tiny, soft, wet mouth, completely by surprise, total abandon,
it’s thinking that your mind will never have sharp edges or straight
lines again, it’s being beaten and kicked by a screaming, back-
bending, contortionist, hair-pulling dervish who later subsides into
swollen-eyed, red-faced, runny-nosed calm in your arms,
it’s the sink full of dishes, plastic cups, bibs, tea-leaves, peach-peel,
pasta shells and peas, it’s ketchup at every meal and wondering
how a body can survive on no meat or vegetables, ever,
it’s the way his body curves into yours and how your arms are
strong enough to lift all twenty-six pounds of him over and over
again at all the wrong angles, it’s shocking wide awake each time
he murmurs in his sleep next door, it’s the invisible rubber band
between you, the pain in your belly and chest when you’re apart,
it’s seeing your life upended, its contents strewn around as if by a
tornado, and picking your way through the wreckage with no time
to care because something like passion is driving you on.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Spring, and the tulips urged me
stick to schedule, flower furiously.
I asked for mountains but settled
for some flood-buckled linoleum.
Air was the only sure thing
and even she put up a fight.
I called my eyes near-sighted,
my hands near misses, my arms
close calls, my face old hat,
my head a bluff and raised
my body, a wishing machine.
Stars, thanked. Days, numbered.
I wore a coat because you can’t trust
weather and I looked like rain.
The death toll continues to rise. My friends
displaced. Trees destroyed part of Kerry’s house
but everyone is safe. I’d like to get a dog
as long as it would never die. Today: the clouds
like a tattoo. Wanda believed she was going
to get better. For weeks after her death
packages arrived in the mail—all things she’d
ordered before she was on hospice:
a vegetable steamer, a juicer, a new healthy life.
Weddings & funerals in the span of a week.
Each year, the family grows & shrinks.
I search the classifieds for a new job,
a new place to live, a change. This happens
every two to three years, but I imagine
three years from now I’ll be too old to keep
this up. I should settle down, start a family,
do all those things that people once
expected from me. Basically, give up.
“Living with the Blues.” If I could survive
here, with these simple wants, I’d be happy.
I just want to listen to music, read books,
eat food, drink beer & occasionally whiskey,
dance, and travel, see my friends & spend
my time with you. It sounds like I’m fifteen,
believing this could actually be possible.
The Idiot’s Guide to Living.
Last day of April. Early morning sun,
open windows & birdsong. Saturday quiet
as the city sleeps in. Momentary stillness.
A cup of coffee & a book equals peace.
At least right now. The temporariness of it all
doesn’t matter. True spring on the horizon.
The mistake of placing hope in seasons,
to look forward to the days to come &
expect things to be better.
leaving is not enough; you must
stay gone. train your heart
like a dog. change the locks
even on the house he’s never
visited. you lucky, lucky girl.
you have an apartment
just your size. a bathtub
full of tea. a heart the size
of Arizona, but not nearly
so arid. don’t wish away
your cracked past, your
crooked toes, your problems
are papier mache puppets
you made or bought because the vendor
at the market was so compelling you just
had to have them. you had to have him.
and you did. and now you pull down
the bridge between your houses,
you make him call before
he visits, you take a lover
for granted, you take
a lover who looks at you
like maybe you are magic. make
the first bottle you consume
in this place a relic. place it
on whatever altar you fashion
with a knife and five cranberries.
don’t lose too much weight.
stupid girls are always trying
to disappear as revenge. and you
are not stupid. you loved a man
with more hands than a parade
of beggars, and here you stand. heart
like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
heart leaking something so strong
they can smell it in the street.
Settle into the earth and spread out
thin in every direction, your eyes closed
till birds shout carelessly in your ears
and you forget your ears,
and rabbits and deer and automobiles
walk on the dirt your body
which feeds the tree which becomes the stone
to mark you
crumbling. If you concentrate,
a button and a hair disintegrate so softly
you never knew they belonged to you
and never will again.
My dreams no longer disguise themselves
In this one, my parents
are telling me the ways I’ve shamed them.
In this one, I am getting drunk
and spilling dirty dishes from my handbag
in front of everyone I know.
In this one, somebody I know has died; it doesn’t matter who.
I row alone to the middle of the lake
behind the house where I grew up.
The entire sky is gleaming pink
and purple, inexplicably. How did this happen? I ask,
as if an answer will come. I cry,
a little bit.
The waves sway me gently in the small boat,
a blot, the apex of the lake.
BRETT ELIZABETH JENKINS
Theme by Lauren Ashpole