Sunday, October 31, 2010

Poem of the Week #148

Why We Cry

When babies cry, no tears are shed.
There is only that incessant screaming.

Some tears come as reaction to pain—
these seen most readily in children

who have fallen off bicycles or out
of trees. (Adults, when was the last time

you cried for hitting your elbow?) We cry
when wronged or then again, when righted

(as in honored, helped, or recognized.)
We cry at the sheer immensity of it all.

Tears come to water the soul, involuntarily.
You’d be surprised how much you need hydration.

At funerals, tears flow like blood. They complete
a chain reaction from one heart to another.

At birth, they come as relief and release,
and at weddings, they cascade like rain.

Are we crying because we are happy
for the new couple or sad for ourselves?

We cry because it is a rite of passage
and all such rites require salt and water.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Poem of the Week #147

Four Causes of Spontaneous Tears

Two men in waders
fish off North Point,
bathed in morning sun.
I hear their voices call,
back and forth, as one.

We drive through farmland
just past town. The hills,
so many shades of green
and brown. You snore,
lips parted, as when a baby.

The carrousel spins me
round and round, my pony
charges up and down.
I laugh, then cry, then laugh again
betrothed to the calliope.

I lie alone beneath the stars,
become that teenage girl who hears
a song unfurl on late night radio.
It reminds me where I’m bound to go,
recalls where I have been.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poem of the Week #146

The Mechanics of Time/Space as Experienced in a Rear View Mirror

We pull up to the curb
a block from the middle school.

I have exactly two seconds
to throw my voice under the radar

to say goodbyehaveagooddayiloveyou
as a ventriloquist would, without moving

my lips. Because you are already
scanning the sidewalk—for boys, girls?

I’m not sure who you are looking for,
but God forbid they should see you

talking to your mother. You say okay,
grab your sack, and dash away.

You join the flow of somber teens
and I, the flow of other harried mothers

and fathers, none of us quite sure
what to do with the likes of you.

Seventh grade is not what it used to be.
I watch you in my rear view mirror

and remember other school mornings
when I was your beloved escort.

Now, you wait for traffic to clear,
then saunter—nonchalant—across the lawn.

I imagine someday, when I am far away,
I will catch you in a distant mirror,

as you sit in a car, looking back
at your daughter or your son.

In your rear view mirror,
you will see what I see, that same one.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Poem of the Week #145

Good Greek Gal

The thing about my Athenian Palace summer
waitress job, the one my Aunt Helen got me,
is that it wouldn’t have been so bad

that I did not speak Greek except that
the owner, his brother, Gus (who cooked)
his two sons, his niece and nephew,

and assorted distant cousin dishwashers all seemed
to be asking themselves in the garlicky kitchen,
What kind of Greek doesn’t speak Greek?

Every night, they gave me the sideways eyeball,
Greek whispers punctuated by guffaws and giggles.
Did I mention I was only fifteen?

Late one evening, a lady came into the Palace.
She was all dolled up and in a hurry;
her car left running, her mascara too.

Teased-up hair, tanned and puckered
cleavage crowning her low-necked sweater.
She needed change for some unknown reason,

confusing me with fast talk.
She was scamming me for a twenty.
Wait a minute, I said. Gus was in back,

but he spoke no English at all.
John, up front, my retired sea captain,
my regular, awoke from his 7 and 7.

He said, Lady, leave number.
Later, we count drawer.
We call if over, we give back twenty.

She left without providing
her contact info. You see? John,
I said, John, you saved me.

Nah, he said. You smart.
You good Greek gal.
I just help.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Poem of the Week #144

Why You Should Not Shoot Geese
Near a Soccer Field

horrified soccer moms
will loose track of the game
and cover their eyes
at the sight of geese
tumbling wing-over-wing
like pinwheels out of the sky.

at exactly seven minutes
into the second half, shots will ring out
and a wounded-but-not-dead goose
will graze the heads of the mid-fielders
and land on the 18-yard line,
stopping play.

in front of all those spectators
from outside the county,
a stocky man in hunter’s gear
will stride out onto the field,
gather the goose in his arms,
and snap its neck.

the opposing team will win,
and the hometown boys
will remain unperturbed.
It’s a free country, mom,
is what will be heard
from the backseat
on the short drive home.

Lisa Vihos