Friday, March 5, 2021

Two Poems in a Woman's Voice

 I guess that's what I do, write in a woman's voice. So I am delighted that Beate Sigriddaughter published to of my poem in her lovely blog: Writing in a Women's Voice. 

One is a reprint, Six Feet, which was first in Headline Poetry and Press, and the other unpublished previously: Mrs. Sisyphus Sweeps Acorns.

Six Feet                                                         


The length of my dog’s leash. Meeting another,

twelve feet between wary humans,

            dogs sniff nose to nose.  



How tall my father was, or so he said, but

            you couldn’t always trust

everything he said.

Ask mom.


The width of a cell in San Quentin Prison, 

            not counting men stacked in bunks

stale air, no phone call.          

No defense.


The distance between two not-yet-lovers, masked

            strangers, no touch but eyes

            no hands, no mouths.

Alone together.


The depth of the average grave, except in genocides,

war, and pandemics like this one

when you have to share.

Don’t die.


The width of my queen size mattress, enough 

            for two, most nights. Sometimes

            I want it all for myself.

Tonight you stay.



Mrs. Sisyphus Sweeps Acorns                                                        


There he goes, hands greased against the strain

pushing that rock up that hill again and again

my man, following unheard commands, good

for nothing


So I take up my broom, wired for work

for sweeping the fallen nuts

of end of summer harvest, acorns on the path

we trod morning and night


Tripping hazards, as the rock my man’s

invitation to disaster, a race

he can’t win, but might kill  him

in trying


Better he should tinker

under the hood of some old car

the neighbors say, tsking like

the old women of Chekov


a dead Triumph or maybe a Ford

Better to stall the old mower

on the tall crunch of weeds

or get acorns in the gears


No, he’s got to show the gods how tough

he is, rugged man who can muscle

a boulder over and over

to no purpose whatsoever


and me left here to sweep piles

satisfying anyway to fill the cans

with fruit to feed the birds

and crafty critters of the night


Women’s work, say the neighbors,

is useful, but why not plant a different

tree, one that bears apples

pears, or sticky black figs


Why not store up for coming winter

the slippery path, the boulder’s relentlessness

that bodes a mutual harvest

an inevitable ending of this myth

Because no matter how hard we try

there is no end of the path

no rainbow sign

no happy ending


Say what you will, consistency

has its rewards, acorns fall, rocks

roll on, entropy sustains us

in the ongoing saga of never.

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