Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Poems’ Category

The Girl I Used to Be

Susan yearbook

I hated my high school teachers—

Few recognized the simple, obvious fact

That I was a genius in my own mind.

 

Instead, I was ushered through chemistry, geometry, algebra.

And failed,

Several times if you must ask.

 

I dodged volleyballs and ducked into stalls to change for gym,

Embarassed by my cheap Kmart underwear and padded bra.

I faked having my period so many times to avoid class,

They called my mother.

 

She needs a doctor,

Something’s wrong with that girl.

 

It did not help that I socially inept.

Or a prodigy, a year younger than everyone,

Or smart, really smart—

 

Or not having boobs when everyone else had them,

Or being a blue-collar girl on scholarship in a private school—

Driving my junky 1976 Malibu into the lot,

Parked alongside the Camaros and Corvettes–

The epitome of 80s pretention

.

 

When I was fifteen,

I decided to hate everyone around me—

Of course, no one noticed.

 

I was just another skinny girl in the cafeteria line,

Sexless, preppy clothes, pimples shrouded in Clearasil.

I flaunted my pretentious vocabulary,

The same way the cheerleaders paraded en masse

Down the fluorescent cinderblock halls

In tight, expensive monogrammed cashmere sweaters.

 

My words were my armor.

I read too many books and made a conscious effort

To be different.

 

It would be different, they whispered

If I forgot painting, poetry, my books

And trying so hard not to fit in.

 

Maybe, if you’re lucky

Some nice average college-bound future captain of industry

Would take you to the party on Friday.

And you will be grateful, and giggle on command.

 

I didn’t go to that party,

Or the senior prom.

It didn’t matter.

 

I watched days, then years, and decades pass.

Time is an amazing equalizer.

 

None of this matters anymore—

Except as footnote and anecdote.

 

I almost forgot the frustration.

I am so busy now and so far, far away.

 

Today, I made love three times,

Cleaned house, and filled the house with food for the week,

I created abundance—

Got a pedicure, slut blood red,

Then had the afternoon to write, and write.

 

Occasionally,

I look at the face that still sits in a gilded frame

On my mother’s mantle—

The face of that girl who used to be me.

Stiff smile, wide-eyed, impossibly tan

In a pink lace blouse, fake pearls and white linen blazer.

 

I want to give her a good bitch slap.

 

I have no tears left for her, or for any of you.

But it’s really all right.

 

She has forgiven.

She has moved on.

She no longer hates everyone.

 

She delights in her difference,

Sealed in time, smiling in approval

From behind the dusty glass,

She is pleased with us,

And the way we move.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Living Rough

homeless

Every morning, homeless single mother,

Cardboard sign

Wild-eyed by the highway side—

 

Every bit helps,

God bless you.

 

Every afternoon, the same man stands by the I-94 ramp.

He’s been living rough—

A similar cardboard sign.

 

Every bit helps,

God bless you.

 

Maybe one car in 20 stops.

 

But I cannot make eye contact,

Locking the car doors, reaching for dark glasses,

Feeling my acute self-entitled guilt.

 

Yesterday, there was a little boy playing with his older brother

In the lounge of the homeless shelter where I work.

 

What brought you here?

Were you thrown away, beaten—

Or was it just too much to be in the care

Of someone who just does not care?

 

I’ll never know.

 

Through the towering bare trees,

I gaze through the God’s eye in the clouds

Hovering over the vast Midwest landscape,

Safe, in the warmth of my small kitchen.

 

I thought I was broke,

I thought I was beaten.

I feel the pall and pressure,

Of a nagging cold and too many bills

Too many to-do’s.

 

And remind myself to stop bitching.

 

You don’t know what living rough is, girlie.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Trump perv

 

 

“Women, you have to treat ’em like shit.”

—Donald Trump, New York magazine, November 9, 1992

 

I don’t have a tidy soundbite for you.

I wish I did,

But I am not a hero.

 

I am not a child.

I have learned to regret words spoken in anger.

 

But we are seething,

Beneath the surface.

 

How long we’ve been ignored,

Seething for those brave enough to tell the truth—

Seething for those punished for doing so.

Seething for being told we have no right to seethe at all.

 

You too?

Me too.

 

Centuries of indifference,

Tacit (and sometimes open) sanctioning of sexual harassment, abuse, assault,

We are suddenly in the midst of a cock conflagration.

 

Powerful men swallowed in the bonfire,

Banned from the primordial, privileged Garden of Dicks.

 

In the Garden of Dicks, it’s always about the dick.

You are a man, you have urges.

 

Oh yeah, you?

Well, me too.

 

In the Garden of Dicks,

Women come and go, working, serving, servicing—

Trying to earn a living wage,

Searching for a husband, a job,

Looking for venture capital or just a good time,

Seeking an advanced degree, a part in a movie.

 

Don’t you know who I am?

 

Often, we have no choice.

We enter a room and instantly know.

Oh, it’s that place.

There’s always something sweaty and unnerving in the air,

Like the men there

Have just laughed at a joke we aren’t supposed to hear.

And, eyes averted, we carry on.

 

In the Garden of Dicks,

There is one peculiar fear—

Loss of power, castration by other means.

Take my humiliation, please.

 

In the room, the women come and go,

Talking of sexual harassment.

 

It took me four decades,

Wandering alone and muted

To finally be brave enough to be angry.

 

You too?

Me too.

 

We arise en masse, our words jagged glass.

 

Read Full Post »

Susan as Sylvia. . .

Read Full Post »

kneeling2

I bow for myriad reasons,

Always my own.

 

Supplication, protest, personal, or otherwise—

To that over which I may

Or may not

Have control.

 

Genuflecting at the altar—

To worship the wheat-wafer body of Christ,

Among choking incense and magenta stained glass.

 

The black-clad faithful, they nod in approval—

I, the stolid girl of duty.

 

Then oh, she rebels.

The trap door awaits me, for the trip to hell.

 

I kneel at your feet—

My head on your thighs

You stroke my hair,

Following passion my mother will never understand.

 

I contemplate the world.

My white privilege, my cultural damage

Does not absorb

The sacred, the sacrosanct.

I am not a time bomb, awaiting implosion.

I walk the streets freely, unquestioned.

 

When we kneel,

It insults the John Deere hat wearing masses—

Chewing tobacco and proclaiming

They will make America great again.

 

What does that mean?

The collective fear curls into a boil that sings

Oh say can you see

By the dawn’s early light—

 

Oh America.

Oh flag, oh anthem

This is not my America.

 

And I bow to my knee

Not from disrespect

But to pay tribute to those betrayed

By my America.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Totality

Eclipse

The moon, it travels so fast.

How long does this moment last?

Cold dust obscures hot hydrogen gas.

 

When time moves slowly, it ticks hours,

Moving quickly, it obliterates weeks.

 

Oh, black umbra of eclipse hanging in the sky,

Lead weight, iron anomaly dangling from some invisible thread—

You mock me, burn the soul from my eyes.

 

I belong here no more than I belonged there—or anywhere.

My life compressed into a few family photos,

Crystal glasses wrapped in tissue and packed in rubber bins—

A gravitational confinement only found in ancient stars.

 

You are in the shadow of the moon.

You know what you left behind.

You know you are alone.

You know what hell feels like.

Not fire, not heat—

 

But paralysis, blackness and the crackling gold corona,

And laughter in another room.

 

Read Full Post »

noroton privateWhen you finally return,

To that old place—

The musky salt smell of low tide floods back,

In a flush memory.

You did not notice it, when you lived there.

 

Twenty five years.

Then the rest you forgot.

 

Green lawns lush, perfect shag carpet—

Shrubs carved into false spires

Obscene roses and florescent hydrangeas

Curated into some artificial, perfect world.

Expensive and unreal.

 

Ten cars cluster round the neighbor’s house.

 

I never knew the man.

He was 40, three small children,

Pretty blonde wife.

Then the Saturday run, then the heart attack.

 

But the joggers still jog,

Mothers still push blonde children to the beach in red wagons,

In a slow rush, a cadence to the sea.

 

A midsummer party,

Florid balloons wafting in the stiff air.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »