Ned’s Folly

(based on the short story, “The Swimmer,” by John Cheever)

For Neddy Merrill,
swimming the Lucinda River
ages him in dog-years,
while his four little women at home
remain nameless.

Yes, they had all gathered at the river
that flowed by the throne of inebriated suburbia,
the adults committing merry debauchery in the cabanas—
adultery and drunkenness mostly—
while their Wonderbread-complexioned children splashed
in chlorinated summer bathtubs.

In and out of Lucinda,
Neddy only comes up for air to find Shirley above him,
giving him CPR from drowning in the depths
of marital servitude,
until he breaks away to chase
that next body of water,
each one becoming colder and less welcoming than the last.

When he comes to the river’s end,
the seasons have made haste,
and there is no petrichor to cheer him,
but rather, the dank odor of clothes
left in the washer too long.
Did he jump into the deep end,
or did he fall in,
only to find himself in an empty pool?

For the short story this is based on:

Click to access Cheever_Swimmer.pdf

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 438

Micropoetry Monday: Ekphrastic Poetry

002.JPG

She’d learned it all from Lucy–
how a life of grand schemes
& wars of the sexes made it worth living,
how one could come to America an immigrant & not make do but do well,
how a small apartment in the city could become a spacious house in the country,
how lifelong best friends & a long-awaited child
could be part of anyone’s American Dream.

Scarlett
Tomorrow was always another day—
that mythical time when all would be well.
Yet she pined for the one man
who represented that lost cause
in which she’d found happiness.

Caroline Carmichael had found purpose in a stolen life,
rather than the life she had chosen as Martha Sedgwick.
She was the water,
Hillary & Winston the powdered mix,
& blended, they made up the Instant Family.

Little Women
Beth was but a faint percussion,
Amy, a bold stroke of fresh color,
while Jo captured & condensed life as she knew it,
& Meg mothered the future.

She was one in a dozen,
a ginger with a snap,
the heart of a lion,
the breadth of a lamb.

Both Beauty and Beast: His Life, His Work, His Story

It seems like the prompts this year align perfectly with what I’m already writing in my ENC1102 class.  This book left an impression on me, and had a tremendous and positive impact on the way horses were treated.

“…Well done, good and faithful servant…”  (Matthew 25:23)

He had a servant’s heart,
but was a master at his trade.
He was known by many names—
Jack and Black Auster,
Blackie, and Old Crony—
but Black Beauty was the one
he would be remembered by,
this English gentleman equine.

He was the son of Duchess,
never knowing his brother from the same mother.
He suffered for the drunkenness of men,
the vanity of women,
the ignorance of both.

He was a best friend to Ginger—
a chestnut who came out of her shell;
he was a companion to many others,
a listening ear for a tale to tell.

The heathery lea to which he retired,
was but the path where the marigolds grow,
for he blinks,
and in the glimmer of a star,
he is where all horses go.
Ginger is waiting for him,
infirm no more.

The vignettes that ran the episodes of his life
into one long-running season,
continue still into one everlasting life;
this ebony horse with the white star—
put there by the gentle hand of all creation—
left his beauty mark,
for it was his story that made history.

No Invitation

Where he was going,
she had never been;
from whence he had come,
she had never known.

Barefoot in blue jeans,
pertly pretty and fifteen,
the mirror, her mistress,
tells her in words sounding like hers
that she is the queen—
this somnambulist in the sameness of her life.

He appears as if in a golden chariot,
a childlike man on the spectrum with him;
he is ambiguous and all put-together—
everything and nothing,
from neither here nor there,
but from some other place
where music also plays.

The mesmerism of his voice—singsong and sad—
is discordant, yet she cannot close the screen door
that separates them as a bridal veil from the groom.

That day through the screen door,
on a Sunday barbecue afternoon,
the girl who knew no religion,
could not know the Devil when she saw him.
Twas when Pride met Vanity,
and lost;
when Virginity met Debauchery,
only to lose herself.

She snaps out of her hypnotic state,
as her entire life crystallizes—
the father who spoke not at all,
the mother who spoke too much,
the sister of whom much was spoken of.
“For inasmuch as ye have done it unto
one of the least of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me,” Jesus said.
For the others, she has stayed;
for them, she will go.
The spell is broken, and it is all so
extremely frightening and incredibly real,
for this Arnold Friend is more real to her
than anything else had ever been.

Based on the short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates.

Also, an interesting analysis:  http://sittingbee.com/where-are-you-going-where-have-you-been-joyce-carol-oates/

Static Girls (inspired by Girl Before a Mirror by Pablo Picasso)

girl-before-a-mirror.jpg

She cuts her eyes to the looking glass.
The girl stares back—
changeless;
the changeling in utero remains unseen:
a petrified baby girl
with her snatch of hair and single tooth—
so wee and still in her fetal state.

The unknown lithopedion calcifies
into intricate stonework.
Mirror Girl is the mummy of the mummified,
a living coffin,
a closed casket.

The lub-dubs of Mirror Girl’s heart bleat a lullaby
for this lambkin in limbo,
her ribcage a home for the little bird
without voice or personhood.
Her womb is a tomb,
from which no thing will rise
nor rush
nor rapidly form.

*a lithopedion is rare, medical phenomenon in which an unborn child dies during gestation, and calcifies within the mother’s body.

Christina’s Worldview

*An ekphrastic poem is a poem inspired by art, usually, though not always, images.

“Christina’s World” has always been one of my favorite paintings, though I couldn’t tell you why.  I just think that’s how it is with art sometimes.

16.1949

Wyeth, Andrew

~

Wheat-colored grass fields
separate her from the chaff
that has been home since she was
a little stranger,
through kith and kin.
She is at large from her world
that has become small:
fourteen rooms,
four walls,
and Maine land as far as she can crawl—
not as a child,
but as a woman whose feet trail behind her
like tin cans on a honeymoon car,
her legs like the strings that connect them,
her spirit soaring above the plain.