Workshop Poem – Nov. 19, 2014

Zorida Mohammed


I grew up without perfume,
or at least so I thought, until
I remembered my mother’s tiny bottle of KushKush
and the flowery talc they’d sprinkled
on Dada and Dadee before they were wrapped
in the 40 yards of cotton
so we’d know when they were visiting.

But those were prepubescent days.
When I discovered perfume,
I can’t remember which one,
my innards quaked
as if I’d snagged something
from the ether that surrounded me
but didn’t know it’d been there all the time.

The world outside my door and my neighbor’s door
greeted me with benign kindness,
kinder than my own drowning mother
who needed so much from me
as if I were her right hand,
as if our umbilicus was never cut
and I should have known what she needed.

I was a massive failure
and prayed daily to die as a younger teen
until Krishna, the good cricket player,
and avid limer at the village corner,
and at the Hindu school, picked me.

I thought it was my classmate Sita
he was looking at
until my next door neighbor
placed a folded up copybook page in my hand.
I ran straight to the latrine for privacy.
He liked me and wanted to meet me.

The whole world shifted that day.

The world has always been kinder to me than my mother
until, slowly over the years, I became the fairy God-mother
she never had, and we fell in love, truly and forever.
We even held hands when we walked.

The world never needed anything from me,
save for my eyes, peering
into every nook and crevice of everything
they discovered,
awakening the cells of my marrow.

I dipped in, and out,
as if nature were a stream,
and I a cup, dipping,
always dipping.

*Limer; In Trinidad, a person who gathers or hangs out with others for idle chatter.

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Workshop Poem – Nov. 12, 2014

Wayne L. Miller


orange juice yellow beets brown bread
once more she sets the table

arranging dishes
placing napkins

forks spoons knives
centering chairs by placemats

then placemats by chairs
tureen vegetable soup steam

cold salads covered
no grapefruit spoons or fish forks

yet again
she checks the simmering roast

reverently adjusting burners
almost hot enough

for bellies full
of memories

to start with
blue corn chips green salsa black olives

inviting me she
touches my shoulder

Workshop Poem – Oct. 29, 2014

Milton P. Ehrlich

My Bolshevik Buddy

He was a legless veteran of the ’39
Civil War Brigade in Spain.
He hurled his stump around
like an orangutan in heat,
never missing a day of teaching.
He indoctrinated students
as a revolutionary apparatchik
with fire in his belly for a new world.

He refused to use an umbrella,
a symbol of the bourgeoisie.
He wouldn’t brush his teeth
or use underarm deodorant:
Comrade solidarity.

Daily Worker, his bible, when religion,
opiate of the people, would never do.
He walked the talk on every picket line,
raising his fist, red in the face, singing:
“A Las Barricadas”

We’d argue late into the night
about whether the ends justifies the means.
Dynamite, bombs and assassinations
expose the light of truth, he’d say,
and, without light, nothing flowers.

Workshop Poem – Oct. 22, 2014

Bob Murken

Appalachian Trail Shelter: Late Winter Afternoon

Focus as you tent the twigs
above the little yellow beech leaves –
only that and nothing more.

Take off your gloves,
tear loose one match
and strike it.

Cup it till it flares,
protect the flame until
it grows,
the tiny glow
against the whiff
of thready smoke
that means you failed.

Now cherish what you have
and feed it,
snap the crispy tips off branches,
place them gently where they’ll catch,

then wait.

The smell of fire,
small and welcome,
satisfying, says “I did it!”

Silhouette and flickerlight begin
to dance up on the logmade shelter wall,
become a weaving, waving dance done just for you,
evoke the rush and relish of the primal human triumph:

you defeated all the cold and dark outside where no human is for miles

save you and you alone.

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