Sunday, August 31, 2008

Poem of the Week #35

When You Wake Up

When you wake up, clear-eyed, over here
on this side of the veil, you’ll find
that you remember the smallest things:

Sunday mornings spent with your mother
at the laundromat reciting Dr. Seuss—the perfume
of warm cotton sheets, fresh from the dryer,

The name of a certain French cheese
you ate one afternoon in a park in Paris
with a boy named Alain and a bottle of wine,

The giggles of girls laying out their towels
in the sand as they carefully pull down
their bra straps, arranging their limbs just so.

Once the skin is shed, you find yourself
missing an itchy nose or a child’s cool arm
flung across your chest as you sleep.

These small movements move through you, not
as great waves crashing upon the breakwater,
but more like silent rings spooling from a pebble

thrown by a father’s hand. You’ll remember
these moments as though they just happened
this morning, though morning was really

a hundred years ago and afternoon is a place
you will never go again and bedtime is nothing
but a distant speck on memory’s horizon.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Poem of the Week #34

Slow Boat

When we were small
and sitting in the sandbox,
someone passed around spoons
and suggested we could dig to China.

We set to work digging
and we’ve been digging
ever since. But consider this:

A boat with pretty ladies on the deck
twirling yellow parasols and sailors
snoring in hammocks with Chinese
newspapers folded over their faces.

This boat can take you anywhere
you want to go, Colorado,
Tahiti, Xanadu.

Or, maybe
you just want to take it
into your own kitchen
to sit by the open window
with a good book
and a cup of tea.

Maybe the place you’ve been
trying to go is closer
than you think.

Maybe you would get
where you’re going
if you just went
a little slower.

Lisa Vihos

Monday, August 18, 2008

Poem of the Week #33

To the Makers of Shoe Boxes

Please sell me my shoes plain and unboxed.
Let me take them home in my bare hands
or in a cloth bag given me by my grandmother.

Stop cutting down the rain forest to make boxes
for shoes—too sturdy to be thrown out
and too numerous to be useful. They pile up

throughout my house, waiting to be of service;
but there are no more letters for them to hold,
and only so much junk from the kitchen table.

Many a summer morning I have spent breaking down
shoe boxes to be recycled into more of same. A waste
of my time, a waste of yours. Not to mention the trees.

Let us be free of shoe boxes and, come to think of it,
even shoes. Let us spend our days sun-drenched, walking
barefoot on sand, polishing dead skin from our feet.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Poem of the Week #32


Mom has a theory she calls clicks
flashes that stick in memory and come
unstuck when tripped by word or smell.

Today’s click: a picture in her mind of me,
age three, and a time I came upon a stripe
of light glinting along the edge of a table,

something about it, marvelous to me.
Was it the geometry? I don’t recall
the light, the angle, the table.

I don’t recall this ever happening,
but there it is in mom, so bright, she can
hand it to me. If she dreamed herself

a poet, she would write about the girl
beguiled by the stripe of light. But,
it would be her instead of me,

a shaft of light holding dust
in a stairwell, her own mother’s voice
calling, come down it’s time to eat.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Poem of the Week #31

The Poet’s Trick

He reels me in with hooks and tender lines,
sweet words about his many loves, not me.
Yet all his words touch something mine
that he was not aware of when he wrote.

He was thinking of his mother, wife,
or mermaid in a dream. All those other ones
who called to him and saved his life.
Mark his words, you’ll see that she is me.

And then, I leap to him and catch the thread;
tangle in his words, a thrilling rush. Then he
lights upon the page and holds me ‘til I’m red—
I blush. Is meeting him in verse adultery?

This question sneaks by quietly, without note,
for I must learn some caution in thought.
One hopes for a tidier account of things,
but then, too much goodness goes uncaught.

Whoever has been smitten understands.
Words work upon the heart as sleight of hand.
What issues from the pen, you picture true
and yet, uncertain if it speaks of him or you.

Lisa Vihos