Sunday, March 28, 2010

Learning to Drive

When he taught me to drive,
my Lieutenant Colonel Dad
commanded me to learn
on a stick shift. No namby-
pamby automatic ride. We
practiced on country roads
where he trained me to swerve
at will, to get the feeling of control.

This is how he lived his life:
grabbing the wheel. In later years,
hands curled, arthritic claws,
he would not stop driving,
changing course. I never knew
when harsh weather would force
my slide into a lie, fearing
a head-on collision, his sharp nod
the only brake light needed.

I was always missing curves.

I wonder if his ashes press
pedal to vase as he plots,
in Arlington National Cemetery,
a military coup, part of a convoy,
commando spirits planning
to eject hazardous materials
on my wishy-washy life:
a car-jacking, an explosion. 


...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Grand Canyon

While driving west
we passed time
with an article

proposing marriage

could be stronger

if you share the thing

you most dislike.

I came up with
the way
he ate his pudding,
open
mouthed and rolling forward

on his tongue: I couldn't
swallow
if I watched.
Perhaps he
thought me
more
disgusted than I was.

Sometimes his face

was puzzled at my gibes

though not quite angry
with those small darts

he would say "You don't

enjoy your life. Too
hot, too cold, or hungry.


You're impossible.
You notice
nothing in the scenery, your nose

is always buried in a book."
Oh, it was true I read
throughout the canyon

drive, but it was not
true that I noticed nothing.


Growing dizzy at the edge

he tripped so carelessly

reminded me of his invincibility.
And, thus, secure, he told me

I complained too much.

I did complain,

my chronic transience


the one landscape in view.


Published in
Revelations II: Personal Poems by Cincinnati Poets, 1999

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Tell the Old Woman to Dip Her Own Pail in the Well

Like the little girl in the fairy tale
I get wrong-ways of a witch.

Frogs and snails
fly
from my mouth,
stirred in a serpent's brew,

anger the spoon.


Words, those erstwhile pearls

grown tawdry, become wild

flashers, serrate the air,

whistling their dark way South.


Without the least regret,

I ache to taste the profane.



...