Sunday, December 27, 2009

Poem of the Week #104.a

A Friendly Reminder

At year’s end
the psychic vampires
will come to steal your soul.

They may appear as sacred icons
cloaked in something shiny
that costs an arm and a leg

but beneath their glittery
Spandex jumpsuits,
they are nothing more

than those evil blood suckers:
Regret, Fear, and Longing.
They will drain you dry

if you don’t disarm them first.
They are always behind you
and so the trick, I have found,

is to go only forward, never back,
no matter how completely
uncertain it looks up ahead,

no matter what shit pile
is blocking the road.
It is, after all, your road

and why do you think God
gave us arms and shovels?
Some time in the middle

of this life or the next,
you will dig yourself to someplace
lighter—a place you can enjoy

a warm sea breeze—and let go
of what drains you; a place to be
yourself, peaceful iconoclast.

Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #104.b

The Accidental Present

I woke up early and listened to the wind
blowing hard through the wood of the trees.

All dead and frozen out there, white and harsh,
a frigid, unrelenting wasteland of snow;

a place no one should have to go. Not even the dog.
Should we let her poop in the basement? Here, inside,

there is a warm blanket on the couch, and free refills
on coffee, if you are willing to go as far as the kitchen.

There are lamps lit and Irish music on the CD,
and the lingering smell of the Christmas tree,

under which lovingly-wrapped gifts ring the cut-off
trunk, and above, a star that Owen made years ago

from a toilet paper roll and glittery pipe cleaners.
I give thanks to this tree from the north woods

that gave its life for us to string lights across its branches
and touch all the ornaments, recalling Christmases past.

Best of all, there is Owen, the not-so-little boy, sleeping in
on Christmas morning (being hip to the truth of Santa)

who nonetheless nodded when I asked if we should still
set out the plate of cookies, and who himself rooted

in the fridge to produce a carrot for the reindeer. So, when I sat
alone in the dark morning to eat the sweet evidence and strew

crumbs across Santa’s special plate, I was alarmed to realize
that I had not used different paper for the stocking gifts.

Even a savvy eleven-year-old who has graduated to using
deodorant should receive his Santa presents in foreign wrap.

As luck would have it, I ran out of tape and had to scramble
to re-package everything. But, I got the job done, as only a mother

can do at six a.m., or any time, really. Later, washing up breakfast,
I accidentally knocked the Santa plate to the floor. Sacred object,

now in more than ten and less than a million pieces. God dammit!
I exclaimed. Husband and son came running. Are you okay?

We found a shard with an address label on the back,
the factory in which the plate was made, a reminder

that even broken things announce new life, and within
each thing dead or destroyed, creation is already written.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Poem of the Week #103

‘Tis the Season

‘Tis the season to be jolly,
so they say, and jolly is as jolly does.

So go forth and be jolly even in the face
of global warming, a failing economy,

war in the Middle East, and oh,
that shooting pain beneath your left rib.

At least you don’t wake up each morning
to newspaper headlines claiming a drop

in your approval rating, or that display
your secret comings and goings

on glowing midnight laptop screens
from here to Kingdom Come.

Living in obscurity has its benefits,
so they say, and gratitude is the attitude.

If you have loose change in a coffee can,
food in your cupboard, a car in the driveway,

a toilet that flushes (in theory) and a roof
over your head, you are living like royalty

compared to some ridiculously high
percentage of the rest of the world.

I came across these facts in a book
at Starbucks, sipping a latte,

pecking away on my laptop, complaining
about something or other to the void.

So let it be said, if you have one person,
just one person, who makes you smile,

then you have all the reason in the world to be jolly,
to be a mirror of jolliness in this or any season.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Poem of the Week #102

When the Moondog Dies

Will you be mine when the moondog dies?
When rain falls up to wash the sky?
When bears live in houses and mice in trees?
When the wells dry up and all the seas,
and all the harbors and ports of call?
When summer is winter and spring is fall?

I’ll be yours when cats chase dogs.
When crows live in caves and bats in bogs.
When snow flies up to powder the sky
and all the ponds and rivers run dry.
When lake and mountain learn to sing
that winter is autumn and autumn spring.

Will you be mine in the shade of the sun?
When two plus two equals one plus one?
When grapes grow on trees and apples on vines
and snow falls down in two straight lines?
When the mouths of rivers swell and call
that spring is summer and winter fall?

I’ll be yours in the shade of the moon
when snow and rain fall down on June.
When three plus three equals four plus four,
and sand runs down to meet the shore.
When waves rise up from the sea and sing.
In summer, winter, fall, and spring.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Poem of the Week #101

His Mother Who Lived in the Trees

She spent long afternoons
by the kitchen window
letting herself wander about
in the tops of the trees.

In winter, her mind climbed
the branches like a jungle gym.
In summer, she hid herself
behind a green curtain.

It was a place she had to go
to escape the bottomless pit
of hearth and home and he knew
it pained her to be torn

from her quiet, leafy palace.
He tried to curb his need for her,
but she was—after all—his mother,
giver of life, fixer of broken things.

She had a calmness about her,
except when she didn’t, and then
sometimes, she would just explode,
in a way that frightened a little boy.

He’d think, my mother is crazy,
but her treetop sanctuary was open
and when they were there together,
they spoke the language of spiders.

He learned that his hand on her shoulder
worked wonders, telling her he was okay;
telling her the little acorn was happy,
rooted in a patch of ground other than her.

Lisa Vihos

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Poem of the Week #100

To Him, Who Has to Ask

He hears a mother's work is never done,
so he does his part; goes forth, late at night
for meds or milk, then stands aside, alone,
watching her clutch a sleepy child so tight.
Useless appendage he has come to be,
the bacon-bringer, the sprung seed that was.
Would he be bolder near a stranger's knee?
Nah. It would only hurt the kids, because
they don't have to ask her for her loving.
Why can't she just espouse his one request
and help him stock their shelves with something
like supplies? His need to be loved and kissed
with cherry pie, a box of mac and cheese,
a can of soup, a can of comfort. Please.

Lisa Vihos