Friday, February 1, 2008

Martha L. Deed

Year Three

If I tile my bathroom walls with the Bill of Rights
one to a square
and windbags blow shut the doors of my house
dusty fallout clogging my lungs and skin
and if all I can think to do
is to shower long and hard
reading all the rights I’ve lost
save the right to bear arms
with assault rifles if needed
and if soap and water cannot soothe
and I stand suffocated
dizzied by the printed walls
if the walls seem to move silently
threaten to shatter at my feet
then, of course, I have been driven crazy
and it took only three years
which if you stop to think about it
is a compliment to my sanity
three years of lies to kill my brain
it could have happened faster
to a weaker soulif I reach out a finger
touch the walls
and my finger feels them move
the grout drifting to my feet
then I will know
constitutional dyspepsia
dripping from leaking
balances of power
has rotted the constitution
behind my shower wall
and I have not gone crazy
though the creek has reversed its flow
in August’s storms, the ship of state
slides backwards, upended, and half-swamped
among the fallen trees and rotting fish
a ruin awaiting false memorials

*previously published in Big Bridge #10

Baby Talk

the breeze of your writing
tickles my earlook at me
I am eating pea soup
with my hands it's fun
the roaches in my tugboat
have swum into my bath
I am afraid
I don't care about monkey pox
it's really vibrating in my ear
I want a prairie dog
your shirt is up my nose
I wish it were running
I should just go to sleep and snore
now a deer is giving birth
underneath the kitchen window
I mean it the fawn is lying
white-speckled eyes open
in the fetal position
against the brick wall
if this ends up in your poem
I will kill myself
If I shut up
you wouldn't have a poem
and now the doe
I'm not a writing pad you know
influences the fawn to its feet
it trips over the brick at garden's edge
six deer circle standing guard
the fawn eatsfirst time ever
Are you finished with your writing yet

*previously published in Moria - a poetry journal

Pre-empted Attack


I killed a bug today
took pre-emptive action
in case it planned to bite me
I don't know what it thought
strange bug with tick-like body
and wings that caught the sunlight
on its scales as it preened itself
in my bathroom mirror
with a smirk


would kindness make
a better poem



The Stranger in the Restaurant

The washer, the dryer, the hot water heater, the furnace –
all gone he said in the family restaurant on Walden, gray
hair messy with cold hot food no comfort – his voice soft
and shocked his house mortally wounded by a wind that
raked the 62-degree waters of Lake Erie onto his lawn,
the wet snow – two feet of it – landing on his full-leafed
trees not yet turned or dropped in early Autumn, the
cracking of branches, heart broken trunks, sheering his
phone and electric – God’s knives slashing the earth, the
roof with a fury unknown, unseen. A time beyond tears,
a time of bewilderment. No what-did-I-do-wrong but rather
a how-will-I-ever-make-this-right again. Loss settling into
the bones and joints like arthritis, the cold so fundamental,
he wears winter clothes even after the sun comes out and
the thermometer says 60 – a cold darker than death with
an empty purse.

*originally published in Disaster - April 2007

Red Suspenders

The evil man in red suspenders told his son to be home
by 11:30. When the boy had not appeared by 11:35
the man ripped his mohair overcoat – the tan one
not the gray – from its red cedar hanger in the front
hall closet. Then he ran down the street to the party,
grabbed his son by the scruff of the neck,
interrupting teenaged laughter, and dragged him
home -- his son’s shoes clattering and skippering
on the sidewalk as he tried to match his father’s stride.
Once inside, the man beat his son until he was tired.
The evil man told this story on himself
at a trial recess in a courtroom
filled with people
unsympathetic to his client.
His words bounced off the walls.
He said children must learn to obey
from an early age. He held his side
as he spoke. He’d broken three ribs
the night before when his car went off the road.
“I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt,” he said.
“No one tells me what to do.”

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I really enjoyed Deed's poems, especially "The Stranger in the Restaurant". Flawless.