A couple Christmases ago, I took a rejected manuscript of poetry, edited it, made backgrounds with patterned scrapbook paper posting one of the selected poems on each one. Presents!
There were some pretty ones. One was a poem called ‘You’, and I used delicate, gauze green leaves around a wine colored background with a few curling vines of silver here and there to frame the text. After divvying them among family members, I took the rest to a church bazaar to see if there was any interest. A woman offered me $20 for the rose bordered poem. My grandmother was with me, and as I turned to make the transaction she said, “I’ll give you thirty.”
I blinked. “But I made you one for Christmas.”
“Just like this?”
“No, they’re all different.”
The lady who was standing by patiently asked, “Is this your grandma?”
“Well, you’d better give it to her if she wants it that much.” she said, smiling, and walked away.
That memory always makes me grin. The poem hangs now in grandma’s guest room…
And then there’s dad. I gave my dad something else that year, cus I thought he’d see the poems as overly sentimental. One chapter of my manuscript had contained poems too warped & weird to consider giving people for Christmas.
Well, dad wanted a poem. Typical parent, eh? They zig when you figure them to zag. So on my visit up north, I brought the binder where I’d stored the ‘ungifted’ poems, and let him take his pick.
He couldn’t choose between two of the weird ones, so I gave him both. They hang now in his hall, framed, and I wonder, I just wonder what kinda whack-job people think he is when they take a pause to read them.
An Old Fashioned Love Poem
I thought that you and I understood something
but I see that I was mistaken.
It was such a beautiful night, you in your wedding gown,
me in my oxfords, hemming like a British Gentleman
about to give discourse on a subject that has just started to stop being
I was mistaken to ask your mother to dance with me;
I didn’t know you had ‘a complex’.
I didn’t know she stuffed her bra with Kleenex, but now, I fear,
it will be very difficult not to look.
I only followed you into the ladies room my darling, because it IS midnight,
the men have been drinking, and they want to mount something on the wall,
and I fear it will be Fifi, or somebody’s bicycle;
and although your Pomeranian and I have never gotten along-
and although your dress isn’t a ‘Genuine Lhullier’,
and although I cancelled our trip to Maui and booked reservations
still, I think we’re on to something, you and I.
I’ve known it since the moment you broke your wineglass in my bathtub.
So take my hand:
I won’t let my parents talk to you, I promise;
I will not let harm befall your Pomeranian;
I will be your gentleperson, and you can be my Amazon.
Together we will outmode and outmaneuver
the harsh glare of kumquats on Bastille Day.
I choked my muse today.
She came at me too fast around a corner
and I thought she was going for my head, but
I think she was putting something in there,
not taking something out.
I strangled her dead,
my fingers closing tight around her throat
till the face went blue, and the hands
fluttering around like butterflies
And only then did I notice her loveliness:
The features sharpened by duress.
Those final gasps reverberated
down my core and filled me with
abortive music. She was a mermaid
swimming away from me, her scales
leaving a shimmering path that grew quickly
too thin to follow.
She really shouldn’t have come at me like that, though
all crazy bright and fired up
like a freak, or a strung out mugger.