Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poem of the Week #43

What I’d Say If I Were Billy Collins’ Mother
Responding to His Poem, “The Lanyard”

You might think a lanyard a small thing,
hardly repayment for having carried you
nine months inside me and then all that pain
and tearing to push you out into the world.

You might think a lanyard not equal
in any way to mother’s milk or the many
small kindnesses I orchestrated for you
behind the curtains of your childhood.

A child lacks access to the means of production,
claims nothing in the way of material wealth, and so,
as every mother knows, a boy can only give his mother
love, and what he finds or makes by hand.

From my perspective, a useless red and white lanyard,
wrought by you on a summer afternoon—when you
could have been swimming in the deep Adirondack lake
or playing capture the flag—is really quite immense,

despite its small and functionless nature. To know
you sat immobile on a workbench for a while
and meditated on me as you twisted colored strands
together to make the boxy lanyard is return enough.

You might think a lanyard a small thing,
and indeed, you would be right. The lanyard still
leaves an imprint in my palm when I press it there.
It fits in my pocket, goes where I go.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Poem of the Week #42

I Wanted To Grow Up

I wanted to grow up to be a poet.
The burly, mountain-man kind of poet
with a thick beard and a wild look in my eye.

I would wear torn jeans and flannel shirts
with sleeves rolled up over thermal underwear.
I would not be a drunkard.

Every morning, I would rise before the sun
and make a pot of coffee, then, to work.
When words failed me, I’d split wood, take a bath.

Now and then, I would journey to small colleges
up and down the coast, reading and teaching
on dappled sunlit afternoons in ancient classrooms

that smell of dust and youth; the brawls of academia
unable to mar my poet’s wings. I’d be a paragon
of dedication to my craft.

I would revel in the great and small, the misfit
and the misbegotten. I would sift through words
like jelly beans, roll them across my tongue

and place them ever so gently in your ear
where they might work their way down into
your solar plexus, taking hold of your digestion.

My rugged good looks would light my way
and without knowing how, I’d generally end my day
with someone’s legs wrapped around my back.

But my loneliness would be deep
and wide as the ocean. No lover’s croon
could ever keep me still or match the call

of the Sirens waiting for me on the rocks.
Me, chained to my mast, drenched in their song,
words dripping from me like sweat.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Poem of the Week #41

Too Late, We Thought

It was that autumn of hurrication
and blusterment, when kings fought
for their crowns, and beasticals awoke
to shake loose their brassy manes.
Geese flew every which way but south.

There was hatertude in the air
and a forbading sense of miserdom.
There was a feeling that something
had been lost; I’ll call it humankindlyness,
gone the way of the Mohican and the dodo.

It was a time when be equaled seems
and no one knew what the definition
of is was, or will be, or will have been.
It was a topsy-turvy time of extreme poshity
and abjectionable going-withoutedness.

The best minds of our generation
went missing in a moragmire
of interpetude and degenerance,
feigning some kind of wonderful;
some kind of altruistica merviosa.

It was a time when lachromosis set in
and a distinct hardening of arterial material.
We thought we had the answer. We thought
we could fix things with a bludgeon. We thought,
but it was not enough, and it came too late
to rectifiliate our dementia.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Poem of the Week #40

Found a Peanut

In fifth grade, we scoffed
at the notion that a stepped-on crack
would break your mother’s back;
unlike those in first grade
who believed anything they were told.

You’d see them making their way
home from school, mindful
of their mothers’ spines, debating
the feasibility of Santa’s overnight
journey and the going price of teeth.

We’d snicker. And yet, we were not
above superstition. For us—older and so,
that much closer to death—the specter
of the rotten peanut loomed heavy.
Was it the wistful tune that brought

this demon nut to bear so hard upon
our psyches; made us wonder, could one
ill-chosen, delicious treat really kill you?
When I could have, should have, made
a wiser choice, why did I ignore the signs?

And that doctor, who said I wouldn’t die,
but then, I died anyway. And then
I went to heaven and met St. Peter
in some versions. But there was always
confusion. No one could agree on the end.

So we’d punch each other in the shoulder,
brush off death-by-peanut, purposely
step on a crack or two, just for the hell of it.

Lisa Vihos