Category Archives: Poems about women

Feast and Famine

 

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                     Feast and Famine

 

More is less,
I have heard.
I take another bite of chocolate,
starting more of me.
I keep getting fatter,
tasting delicious
love in my cheeks,
on my tongue.

It nibbles at my teeth.
My dental bills send my dentist to Singapore.
I floss more between my teeth.
I don’t listen
when other people discuss their diets.

It is painful
filling cavities with food.
It gets hard to sit in theaters,
my stomach pressing against my chest.
People ask if I am pregnant.
I say yes.
I am giving birth to more of me.

Meanwhile, I’m a good listener.
People eat my ears up,
take big chunks of them.
I can grow more.
Right now,
this third croissant
is going to my ear.
The next will grow me
more tongue, bigger lips.
When you notice and inquire,
I’m going to tell you stories
that will wind around your skinny waist
like snakes or punk belts,
coil over coil.

This mouth has blistered
in the sun of Africa
in countries now starving.
Well, they were even starving then.
And children sat very close
and learned the words I pointed to.
In the market,
women taught the words
that my mouth needed
to buy their goods.
This is what I bought
in Bati market
on those three hills
where the desert caravans
would wind,
where the high black breasts jutted,
where the scarred faces sought beauty.

In the red dryness,
I bought a silver beaded marriage necklace for myself.
An old woman offered it.
I thought she had done with it, it was such a bargain.
Years later, looking through my photographs,
I saw my necklace on the neck of a young girl––
her bride price purchased for ten dollars.
I never wear it.
It is so beautiful
and I
am growing larger
to feel more ashamed.


I bought also:

lemons, string and wooden beads,
embroidered strips to make a belt of,
Lalibela crosses out of brass,
Shawls as thin as gauze,
a bride dress to be packed away,
camel dung chips for my fire.

On the dead television
in the other room,
some nights they show worlds
that are not strange to me.

Things haven’t changed that much,
 though fewer die now than back then.
I’m not insensitive. I send money
I send money
I send money
but it’s never enough.
What I want to send back
is the necklace.

Too late. That young girl is dead,
buried in a woman forty years older.
I eat for her grandchildren.
I imagine their bellies
swelling with the food I eat for them.
I can hardly ever eat enough.

 

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Picture taken at Bati Market, Ethiopia, 1973

 

For the dVerse Poets challengeto write about some hidden part of ourselves–something we would ordinarily not talk about.

Relaxed

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Relaxed

The punch of youth deserted me a few birthdays ago.
My pace is not so rapid, my activity rate slow.
Though I’m really rather crafty at covering up my laziness,
the truth is the sharp edge of life has dissolved into haziness.

My fashion style has graduated from shabby chic and Goth—
loose batiks and rebozos that provide forgiving swath
to obscure a body settling into a comfort zone
that leaves room for a donut, popcorn or a scone.

I do the things I used to do, though in different proportions.
I exercise within my pool with minimized contortions.
My parties have grown smaller with the menus simplified,
and when I am out shopping, I am easier satisfied.

No longer do I seek out that perfect styling mist.
“This will do,” I soon decide, and cross it off my list.
I put off a few years ago my three nights on the town.
The nights I used to dance away, I love to lay me down.

Sorting through a milling crowd has become a bore.
My friends have dwindled to a few, but I enjoy them more.

Swinging in the hammock has become a meditation.
Looking at garden denizens a form of education.

Life filtered down is full of grace. I love its sway and hush.
Who knew that it would be such fun away from life’s mad rush?

Prompt words today are punch, youth, craft, birthday

Mother Hen

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Mother Hen

His insidious preening as he eyes each teenage guest
makes me want to gather them in a protective nest,
to spread my wings to cover them and tell them to take care.
To go home and do homework and fiddle with their hair.
I want them safe away from this producer’s leering glance.
Away from all they’ll forfeit to try to get their chance.
For all the favors he hands out, with his other hand he reaps,
consuming all the sweet young things as though they were just Peeps!

The prompts today are preen, homework, insidious and safe.

Almost a Miracle (Monologue) NaPoWriMo, Apr 15, 2019

 

Almost a Miracle

I need to explain to you how it happened.
I know you don’t require it, but I need to tell you,
much as a good Catholic needs absolution from her priest or her god,
I need absolution from you.
It began with a simple mishap—the gas left on after cleaning the stove.
I do not remember this action,
yet it must have been me who left the dial turned not quite shut. 
A dark part of me, because with God as my witness, I do not remember doing so.

I did remember that every payday Saturday night when he came home reeling from the tavern, he went to turn on the striker to light his cigar.
If I had actually planned it, I could not have planned it better. 
My mother and the other children had gone to Talpa
for the four day pilgrimage to the virgin
and it was my night to stay with the children
of the people whose house I cleaned.
We did this weekly to afford them the chance
to be together with their friends,

away from their demanding children.
And it gave me an opportunity to avoid my father. 

To avoid the sound of his entrance at the front gate,

the heavy pounding of his boots upon the cobbles,
the creak of the front door and his slipping the bolt
so that I knew once again that I was in the prison of his making. 
His footsteps upon the tile stairs as I lay still, my lips moving in rapid prayers,
“Our Lord, dear lord, help him pass my door tonight. 
Help him to proceed past the doors of my sisters and my brothers
and let him move to visit my mother. 
Help him to relieve the cares of his week in her presence. 
Help it to be his wife who smells the tequila of his breath,
to taste the lime on his lips.
Help me on this night not to be the partner of his sin.”

Rare was the Saturday night when my prayer was heard.
But this night, perhaps I had answered my own prayer. 
Later on, the villagers would talk about the night they heard the boom—
saw the streaking image of a man run from the front door aflame
to run down the street screaming.
“Such a tragedy,” they would say,
“but how fortunate that his wife and children were not present.
God must have been watching,” they would say,
“but then to have blinked a moment.
It was almost a miracle,” they would say. “Almost.”

 

The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a dramatic monologue.

Cruel Question


Cruel Question

It bothers me, I must confess.
What happens to a wedding dress
after it’s had its opening day?
Is it simply packed away?
If so, you’d think once time has passed
they’d finally reappear at last
in church bazaar or resale store
or other places where things of yore
emerge from attic, basement, closet
or other area of deposit.
(In whatever dark place they’ve all lain,
thinking they’ll be used again.)

There should be rooms filled with selections
of these nuptial confections.
Warehouses stuffed full of them,
varied in neckline, cut and hem.
Why do we not see huge barrages
of wedding gowns sold from garages
along with strollers and kiddie toys
cast off by grown up girls and boys?
Surely every aging bride
has a wedding dress inside
a trunk or closet—way up high.
What happens when their wearers die?

Garments of satin or nylon net—
what could be the etiquette
that guides a family in such matters?
If the gown is not in tatters
and worn away by age and mold,
surely it would be resold.
If so, where are the warehouses
where gowns bereft of brides and spouses
lie stockpiled awaiting chances
for other wedding vows and dances?
Where is the wedding gown museum
where we might journey to go to see ’em?

I’ll now chance being thought abrupt,
unsentimental, cold, corrupt
by saying what I have to say.
Do families throw these gowns away?
Buried under hills of trash
is there a wedding veil or sash?
Satin bodices and trains
diminished by decades of rains?
Do gowns once virginally snowy,
and spectacularly showy
now lie buried like their dreams,
slowly decaying at the seams?

These images, you might guess,
seem calculated to depress.
Who wants these pictures in her head
as her wedding vows are said?
This poem is meant for crones like me,
bent of back and stiff of knee,
who’ve run out of memories to ponder
and so must journey over yonder
to the macabre side of pondering
for their mental wandering.
That said, past brides, will you confess
what happened to your wedding dress?

The prompt today is abrupt.

The Legend

Maiden’s Dilemma

Each myth, legend or fairytale
from “once upon” to “fare thee well”
shares some elements of story
be they sad, uplifting, gory.

Always a damsel in distress—
Rumplestiltskin’s name to guess,
for straw once spun out into gold,
or another story to be told.

Too much sleep may be her curse,
ugly stepsisters, or worse.
Murder, treason, sloth and pox
were emptied from Pandora’s box.

These troubles spread from near to far,
(although, in fact, it was a jar.)
Zeus forgave Pandora’s shame.
The imp revealed his own strange name.

But the other women described above
were saved by cleverness or love.
Scheherazade escaped the hearse
with stories, legends, tales and verse.

Cinderella rose from hearth and ashes
and Sleeping Beauty opened lashes­­––
both maids saved by daring-do:
one by a kiss, one by a shoe.

So whatever might have been their fate:
loss of child or murderous mate,
wipe tears and fears away with laughter.
They all lived happily ever after.

 

Another rewrite from four years ago. The prompt today was legend.

Burning Your Journals

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Burning your Journals

Who knew fidelity’s even stance
could be mitigated by circumstance?
That a subtle smile, perchance,
exchanged between you at her advance
would wind up in a swift romance
that flourished in that small expanse
between us and her winsome glance.

Who knew that you would go freelance
when love became our ritual dance?
And that I, still in loving’s trance,
would only learn it later, by chance.
Reading your words, caught twice askance.
First by your death, then grief enhanced
as I suffered loss anew
with this further death of you.

 

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The prompt word today was trance.