Posts Tagged ‘poem’

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Nov 12

November 13, 2019

MARK FOGARTY

NOW YOU KNOW ONE OF THE MISSING

During the time that Misty was gone, she was one of more than a thousand indigenous women missing in North America.
—The Guardian

Misty Upham’s drama coach
Told her to find another line of work.
Despite that, she became a professional actor.
You’ve seen her in August: Osage County
And many others. I saw her in a movie called
Frozen River, where she gets involved in a scam
To smuggle people in from Canada
Through a tribe’s right to move unimpeded across the international border.
That’s real, guaranteed by the Jay Treaty of 1794.
The white woman was the star, but you’d remember
Misty in it, her persistence, her push
To cross borders. She would catch your eye.

Misty Upham was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award
For her work in Frozen River, and for a joint cast award
From the Screen Actors Guild for August: Osage County.

Now you know one of the thousands who have gone missing.
Now that you think about it, you remember her, too.
Oh yeah, the quiet one. The one who played the Indian girl.

Misty achieved what she did
Despite perpetual agony and anxiety.
Misty was gang raped as a teen. And she was raped
At the Golden Globes the year before she died.
She used alcohol and a whole formulary of drugs
To push on; she tried to kill herself several times.

When Misty went missing on the Muckleshoot Reservation,
Local police declined to search for her. She was just out partying
With other drunk Natives; she’d turn up.

Nothing fucking happened until eight days later
When CNN asked why no one was looking
For this notable young actress.

Her family, not the police, organized a search party for Misty.
After she was missing 11 days,
They found her dead, at the bottom of a ravine near the White River.
Her blood was full of alcohol, but the coroner ruled
He could not come to a conclusion as to why she died.

The treaties don’t protect you from shit.
You lived near a border of relentless indifference,
Near something inside that’s gone grossly missing.

And when they found you,
Your family touched you through the body bag,
Your arms, your legs, so you’d know
They came looking for you.

For Misty Upham, 1982-2014, and advocates for MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women). A detailed article from The Guardian about her is at https://www.theguardian.com/global/2015/jun/30/misty-upham-native-american-actress-tragic-death-inspiring-life

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Oct 29

October 30, 2019

Susanna Lee

Dear Anton, I Borrowed Your Last Line
But, Here, I Brought It Back
Oh, No! Now It’s Wrinkled, Sorry

Every morning I go outside to fetch the newspaper from the box.
Birds are already lined up on the telephone wire between the poles,
waiting for Anton’s last line to lead them in song.

Paterson Falls is dammed; it splutters and jams;
its water piles up, an ocean ladder reaching to the moon.
The river refuses to fall, waiting for Anton’s last line to drop first.

Five-year-olds at the neighbor’s birthday party swing bats,
but their swats cannot break the piñata.
It refuses to share its sweets before Anton’s last line shows up.

The sun cannot cast a shadow
without Anton’s last line to offer its silhouette.

Everyone is drowning in tears.
Anton’s last line is missing.

Lawnmowers go to sleep, unneeded,
as grass rends itself, distraught without Anton’s last line.

The earth opens up and swallows its own dust
in fear that Anton’s last line has come to a bad end.

Arctic glaciers bob fiercely on the roiling sea,
pleading for the safe return of Anton’s last line.

The heroic printer revs up—
it shoots out one black duplicate of Anton’s last line!

Please, Anton, here, take it back,
reunite this copy of your last line with the body of your poem.

Hold tight to your poems, Red Wheelbarrow Poets, hold tight.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Oct 22

October 24, 2019

Frank Rubino
Big Shoots

Timmy’s baby-mother overheard me in my drinking 
and bullshitting around the campfire, 
and got in my face in her leopard-spotted jacket 
to attack my politics. She was so exercised,
I had to ask her to withdraw some paces and get rational,
and finally she calmed down, 
and we sat talking in the fishing chairs. 
It had been my first time shooting a handgun
that day, and Timmy had called me Big Shoots.
She revealed that she and Timmy were separated 
though they had flown here together on his father’s dime
and raised their boy together in his house 
near the base where he was stationed, 
and he was taking care of her other kids too, 
from her previous relationships. 
This had been the arrangement for a couple of years. 

I had been thinking all that time 
they were a nuclear family, 
and I looked through the campfire at Tim 
where he sat in hearing range 
the whole time she’d harangued me: 
he’d not moved, 
and looked inward in a wry, long-suffering way, 
just as he sat now and endured her 
divulging all his business, 
that he slept alone on the sofa since Afghanistan,
and was drunk and so forth. 
He didn’t say anything to stop her: 
he had told me earlier 
about his low point, and she was not it.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Oct 8

October 10, 2019

Della Rowland

Odd Socks


Your shirts fit you loosely,
your pants but by your belt.
You pull off your boots 
and even your socks
at every chance you get.
Your mouth never smells
of liquor you’ve drunk
or smoke from your cigarettes.
Nor your body of soap
or of yesterday’s clothes,
nor your hair of shampoo.

You elude everything.
Not even your musk clings to you.
When you leave, you take
all your evidence,
like so many socks you’ve stepped out of,
shaped to your foot
but empty.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Oct 1

October 3, 2019

Frank Rubino

Bowhunters

A family of deer appeared on the neighbor’s property. 
My nephews strung their bows. 
One had a crossbow; the other’s looked like a strut off a bridge, 
elaborate, articulated, modern with pulleys. 
They lined up all their arrows with different heads 
and colored fletching, yellow-green and orange,
on the hood of their truck,
and set their bow stands steady on the grass, 
and marshaled abilities learned in the army 
to make the best tactical formation.

They waited on the four deer, two does grown
and two younger, and talked quietly, 
earnestly about the deer, drinking, 
deciding which would be the best one to take. 
They consulted— again— their Google research page
on the proper place to put an arrow in a deer: 
behind the shoulder where the liver, the heart, 
and the lungs all clustered, and pulsed its blood.
If a deer should jump the fence, it would be in the legal target zone 
my nephews had established on my brother’s property.

The boys’ wives came out from my brother’s house 
and talked with them sotto voce, with their eyes
avidly on the deer, and smiled at the prospect of an easy kill. 
The deer ignored them and walked around cropping grass 
on their side, drifting closer, twenty, fifteen, ten yards away.
The wives went back in the house to let it happen. 

My brother came out then and walked gravely
to the truck, and stood among the arrayed arrows.
“Your mother says you can’t kill a deer here today. 
She says, ‘There are kids and people coming over, 
and you can’t shoot and clean an animal.’”
My nephews protested to my brother, their father,
who had taught them to shoot, after all,
when they were children, 
and he looked down on the grass and said, “Look,
I’m telling you, if you shoot a deer you’ll have Hell to pay. 
You’ll upset your mother. You want to make your mother angry, 
go shoot the deer.” They both looked chastened. 
“I sure don’t want to make Mom mad,” said the younger. 
So they stood down, and left off stalking the deer— 
who moved anyway to the far side
of the neighbor’s clearing, and into the woods, and were lost—
and shot their arrows at a foam target cube instead. 
When he released it, and his arrow thwacked, the elder brother said, 
“To the fletch, it sinks.”

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Sept 17

September 18, 2019

John Barrale

Moon Island


Under a furnace sun, where the rocks are too hot to touch,
and the crone-like shrubs hide their bitter leaves
behind walls of thorn, water was the moon’s gift.
By luck, there were caves, mysterious places,
temple-like and roofed in pale stone. What rain fell
seeped down and gathered there in shimmering pools
the First Ones called moon eyes. At winter’s end,
when the caves were full, water poured
from wound-like springs onto hillside terraces.
There, Fertility, the moon’s promiscuous wife,
gave her lovers grapes and figs. Wildflowers,
their perfume hers, tumbled down the hills.
Mornings drifted in from the sea like a song.
Under summer’s green bowers, when sons came home
from the sea, fathers roasted goats over open-pit fires
and poured red wine into inscribed clay cups,
the wine from jugs kept cool in deep, bell-like wells.
And I, who never came home, would go there if I could.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Sept 10

September 16, 2019

Bobbie O’Connor

VACATIONS ON MY GRANDPARENT’S FARM


I’d take my little brother for a bumpy ride
in Grandma’s antique doll carriage
past all the orange tiger lilies
that lined the long dirt lane
open on both sides.

We’d stop at the field
full of black raspberries
and eat our fill.

Then, we’d visit Pearl and Ammon,
the old couple who lived 
at the end of the lane.

I got a kick out of how the chickens
were free to roam in and out
of their kitchen all day,
and how, as Pearl’s cotton dresses
would get worn out,
they’d become aprons
and, later, dust rags.

At night, Mommy would carry a kerosene lamp
to walk us up to bed
and tuck us in.
With no electricity,
everybody would go to bed early.

Whenever I woke up early enough,
I liked to watch Grandma brush her hair
before putting it back into a bun.
I was fascinated at the way it was so long,
it came to her knees,
and how the bottom foot of it
was red instead of gray.

As a teenager, I was expected to be helpful.
As a girl, that meant helping with meals
and all those dishes to be washed
after three big, hot meals every day.

It was much more fun to go work 
in the fields with Daddy and my uncles.
I’d get stuck with kitchen work
soon enough, when my brother 
was old enough to be a help
instead of a hinderance.

I loved standing, balanced,
on the flat-bed wagon,
pulled by the hay baler,
which was pulled by the tractor.

Using a big hook, I’d grab each hay bale
as it came up the chute from the baker
and stack it behind me.
I’ll never forget how horribly itchy 
hay dust is on sweaty skin.

There was no bathroom on the farm, 
just the outhouse and the pump 
for filling buckets of water for washing
when a shower
would’ve been so much easier.

Grandpa’s brother, Uncle Clarence,
had the farm next door.
After Aunt Maggie died,
he bought an old school bus,
had it towed to his farm,
moved into it 
and rented out the house.

A friend of the family, Fred,
lived nearby.
Sometimes we’d visit him.
There was a little brook to cross,
but the bridge was long gone,
so everybody just drove through the water
and up to his house.

After heavy rains,
he just didn’t leave
or get any company.

The front steps were gone also.
Instead of replacing them,
he just dumped shake in a pile
and built a little hill
slanting up to the porch.

Once, when Grandma was feeding the pigs, 
one charged at her
as if he was going to run between her legs,
but her longish dress got in the way, 
and she was thrown onto his back,
so she had a little ride,
but she was riding backwards.

While at the farm, the big treat 
was when one of my uncles 
would drive into the town in the evening
and come back with ice cream.

We’d all sit around the big kitchen table
and enjoy eating it in the glow
of a kerosene lamp.

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