Friday, October 8, 2021

I Remember: The Bin Laden Girls

 At MacQueen's Quinterly today:  A piece of real life.

I Remember: The Bin Laden Girls, September 2001

 

I remember our trip in a rental car: Ray, John Crawford, and me, just after September 11, to Lowell, Massachusetts, in search of Jack Kerouac’s grave, but finding instead a Middle Eastern Karaoke bar across the plaza from the Industrial Museum. There we joked about whether the woman might be Osama bin Laden’s wife in exile—the bin Laden family did own property in Boston after all—cooking barbeque with her small daughters, smiling for the tourists. Eventually we made it to the Jack Kerouac Memorial Park, thinking how much alike the words Kerouac and Karaoke are, yet so very different.

And years later, John is on the long-distance phone, asking: Remember the bin Laden girls? I wonder what they’re doing now? what language they speak? Farsi, Arabic, Pidgin English? Laughing at how insensitive we sound, but not caring, no one else is listening (except possibly the NSA)—and we have been politically correct for decades, back to when it wasn’t even a thing.

 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Accident

 Thanks to Main Street Rag for publishing my poem, The Accident in its Summer 2021 edition.  

Here it is:

 

 


 




Wednesday, July 14, 2021

American Writers Review - Turmoil and Recovery

 Hi there, 

Just to let you know, three of my pandemic poem are in this wonderful anthology. See below the lovely cover:

 

  Poems:

 

Dotty LeMieux

 

In climates where the temperatures rarely, if ever, drop

below 50°F, the honeybee colony keeps working all year‐round.

Encyclopedia Britannica

 

This is the day I cut my own toe attempting

a clumsy pedicure at the edge of the tub, then

tumble backward, bashing a rib

into the edge of my fickle scale

 

my husband locks himself out of the office, calls

impatient—you don’t answer your phone

I’m down on my knees, bloodied

thinking about breathing in

and breathing out

 

How deep is the breath

in this old battered body?

No spring in this chicken

and the hair, uncombed, frantic

 

Bone, muscle gristle, what

is being born today is not me

or you, maybe a nation, or a notion

of decency after all, maybe a chance

to dream

 

Ribs will heal, skin be restored

with Neosporin and a band‐aid

keys delivered

But what of our Republic?

What of hope?

 

Will they wither and fade

like last season’s tomato plants?

Or blossom like a winter rose, translucent,

still attractive to life‐sustaining bees

who beat all odds by resolute

pumping of wings

to fly?

 

Like It Was Normal

Dotty LeMieux

 

On a Sunday night we go next door

to say goodbye to the neighbors moving

across the country

 

Like it was normal, we go

right inside the house

to share farewells

 

Like it was normal, a small

group has gathered

wearing masks and touching nothing

 

Suddenly the one leaving

grabs me in a hug

I want to hug back

 

like it was normal, but freeze,

stiffen against rudeness

to protect myself, her,

 

 the one leaving to care

for her newly widowed father

and the neighbors staying behind

 

the ones we see everyday

on dog walks, getting the mail, passing

never closer than six feet

 

Goodbyes are quick, we promise

emails, phone calls, run

back home, embarrassed

 

Like it was normal, we lock

the door behind us, wash

our hands for twenty long seconds

 

take our temperature for 10, 14 days

scour each other and the web

for unusual symptoms

put up talismans to ward off

evil spirits

like it was normal.

What Happens to Me Happens Also to

You

 

Never more apparent than in a pandemic

I reach for the door of the refrigerated case

in the supermarket and you reach for it too

 

Our hands meet, but only on cold steel

What I deposit there, you receive and carry

and pass on to the next item in the store

and your car and then take home

to your children

 

What you deposit, I pick up and carry

to the lettuce, the spinach, the Winesap apples

I reject as unripe

and home to rest on the doorknob

and the back of my husband’s neck

 

Even with a mask, with washing, with taking

no chances, I become you and you become me

We are mirror images of each other

even in the best of times

 

The multitudes within me are within you

They grow and multiply and so enlarge us

until there are no distinctions made

no boundaries formed,

no alliances claimed, shored up,

fought for

 

When even the dogs in their ignorance

join the chain of becoming infected

with us,

their eyes pleading

for touches

for treats

for any small reassurances

of consistency and love.

 

 



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Memorial Day

 Hello dear readers,


This poem is for my good friends Howard and Eugenia. It is online at the new MacQueen's Quinterly now:



Memorial Day
 

The week before Eugenia died, she cooked Swedish meatballs and made dirty martinis for Ray and me and her lover Howard, younger by two years, 93 to her 95. And two months before she died, Eugenia made a video saying—

Let me compost the roses
when I die.

A year later, and two weeks before Howard joined her, Ray and I visited him in late May with my cousin and her friend from Washington State and we made BLTs with the bacon Howard had bought for his week of lunches—generous Howard didn’t mind, he knew I would replace it—and on the ride home the friend said—

I would have flirted with him
if he was 20 years younger.

One month after Howard died, his daughter sent an envelope stuffed with ashes not for rose mulching, but for scattering off the ferry on the holiday trip we always made—Howard, Eugenia, Ray, and me—to see the Christmas lights on the Embarcadero and have a drink at the St. Francis and watch the ice-skaters, every year saying—

We could do that if we wanted to.

And when Eugenia started moving just a little bit slower, we gave up the long trek to Union Square, having our drink at the Ferry Building Hog Island counter instead, then crossing the street to watch the skaters glide and stumble, laughing at the children in their bulky mittens—

Yes, we could certainly do that.

Today, we hang off the back of the boat moving between Marin and San Francisco, me with my camera and one eye out for the boat authorities and Ray popping the top off the coffee cup crammed with ashes of Howard and rose petals from Eugenia’s garden.

When it’s my turn, I want to be like Eugenia, like Howard, no mantelpiece urn, no columbarium

but scattered with roses whirling and dancing off the back end of a boat with friends and wine into the bay’s churning depths

into the mystery.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Somewhere and Sunflowers

 I could say Somewhere there be sunflowers. I could be cute, but not today. Today I just offer these two that were published online in Antonym in April.

Somewhere

On the radio a story about the fresh air policy
in German schools
windows opened every twenty minutes
and left open
for five

to let air circulate
among the spirited children
who can’t be trusted
to keep their masks on

Later, I read about the British
tb epidemic in the 1940’s
the sanatoriums in the mountains
where the sickest patients
slept on verandahs hoping the fresh air
would scour their ravaged lungs

while waiting for a cure
an inoculation
a pick and axe to mine the troubles
out of the internal cave
of their wasted body cavity

Tonight the president sings —

Covid Covid Covid Covid

to barefaced followers
How many hold the scourge
in their most delicate tissues,
mouth, tongue, mucous membranes
eyes, disguising hostility
as truth

While we hustle from car
to home, groceries clutched tight
masks on snug
We give up on not touching anything
except each other
We scrub scrub scrub the germs away
fearing the cold that drives us inside
not so strong as British tb patients
not so trusting as German schoolchildren
Soon, we tell ourselves, things will get better
Somewhere, we tell ourselves,
there is science
there is hope.

___

Sunflowers, Rain and the Plague

On the hutch
in front of my window
sunflowers slow dance
gaze through newly rain-washed
panes, moving together
in the artful confines
of their hand-blown
glass vase

their yearning yellow heads
tracking the sun
the world outside
lurch like a drunken
ballerina
blue rain asymmetric
as a heart
skipping a beat

In our flattened world
we eat three day old tuna salad
wash four day old
dishes so we can
do it all again

Once Plague was something
from history books
when hygiene was careless
for both the living
and the dead

Now we struggle
to remember
the day of the week
and to change the sheets
take out the trash
comb our tangles
as if the world were easing
into spring

like any other year.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Sister Moon

 Thanks to The Wild Word for publishing my poem: Sister Moon on their wonderful site: 

Sister Moon

Born under the sign of the moon,
my face as pocked-marked,
as splotched and undefinable
In junior high school when
it mattered
I wanted to wear the veil
of the penitent

My sister, the actual moon,
is the pretty one
her pitted skin character-filled
mysterious
holding secrets
men can’t wait to breach

Mine just a red boiling mess
Boys take one look and don’t even
try to cover their snot-filled
snickers in the hallways,
nudging each other
and their smooth skinned
cheerleader girlfriends

No one ever says “pizza face”
But I heard their thoughts
on the celestial channel
My compensation for
not knowing the call letters
of the earthly frequency

My mother’s soothing words
and foul-smelling potions
can’t hide the truth
Ugly sister
Plain sister

But the moon and I commune
at night under the covers
the way sisters do
soothe each other, she worries
about disappearing every month,
fading away, what if she never returns?

We plot our escape together
the moon and I
When it is her time to hide and mine
to stay behind, tonight,
we will fly away,
past Saturn’s blingy rings
Jupiter’s big red lip
brighter than a thousand suns
swinging round the universe
streaming to pierce the veil
of Creation

our two halves
whole
and luminous
as a nebula.


Friday, April 2, 2021

Pan de mik Anthology on the Pandemic

 I was pleased and delighted to be included in the Oregon Poetry Associations new anthology pan de mik An Anthology of Pandemic Poems. Here are my two: