The Miracle of Lady Macbeth
Every Tuesday, this woman comes
and lights a candle under
Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
I saw her once on the bus
beside a pot-bellied, pale girl
with a black eye.
Jane at the bingo says there’s no da –
wraps her mouth around the scandal
like it’s apple tart, smacks her lips –
the ma bate the child out of her
with her bare fists.
There she is, now. See? Praying.
The flame licks her fingers clean.
The Mayor of Wesson Street
Not the lone glory of an orange
basking in Depression’s dusk—
its fluted bowl of purple glass
Not the fall ways of amber
Leaves burned by roadside
curling smoke’s sun-lit sash
Not tree-lined streets
rabid leaves’ raspy voices
whirling giddy in the wind—
…in none of these
But in the moments I filled with fixing
a lamp shade
painting this place
to a stern perfection
…I thought of you
ordering the tyranny of me
the glass of me
the concrete conscience
I must be right! Mustn’t I?
The religion of our lives
Driving through Sundays with Polkas blaring
feeding the ducks
and a roast at noon
Waffles and TV later
Lassie and You Asked For It!
Wiping my mouth on a Sunday sleeve
I asked for it, alright
He came and went
to the smell of Ice Blue Aqua Velva
He came and went larger than life and first on the scene
to hurricanes, fires, muggings, and races
in an amazing array of uniforms and vehicles
Ambulances, wreckers, pickups, and police cars
He was terrifying! Wonderful!
We would love at a pained distance
His cabinet in the cellar was always locked
But now, just suppose—
if a kid were to haul on its handles…
supposedly—the sheet metal would heave and roar
with the thunder of him!
And those late nights
those harsh bookie lights
lidded hundred watt cones
in the spotlight of THERE
where I wasn’t
in the odor of oils too noxious to dare
beyond the girlish shadows—
he cleaned his guns
I waited and watched where everything seemed
to be what…?
it seems—he just pushed her against a wall!
I step from girlhood
with my two-cents worth
and it seems I will not be Queen for a Day!
I take my vows!
I swear I will not scrape wax
from the corner of the kitchen floor with a knife!
I have waited. I have watched
the routines of his mornings
He’s brushing his teeth; he’s combing his hair
He’s tying his shoes while he chats with the cat
I can tell you the creak of the stairs
and the sound of his footsteps rounding the house
…the routine of his return at supper
the routine of anger
My routine of being late—
and as good as dead
Praying he wouldn’t notice the mud
Praying for the epiphany of his good mood
when the TV and me
wouldn’t be blamed for the downfall of the nation
American television shows of the 1950s:
“Lassie,” “You Asked For It,” “Queen for a Day”
looking for a simple tone.
as people stare at the clocks
tilted in the sky.
looking for the guidance we all want
on crippled days where the clouds
overtake the air
through the mist on each
where kids lay on hilltops
with Berry being their dead friend
who couldn’t climb the hill that time
the creaky taps
above the mud brown bathtub
as if admonishing
my need for comfort,
my need for warmth
to being naked
in this room,
had rows of anti-slip stickers,
like the rough slats his father
lay on in auschwitz,
five men deep
my padded limbs
displacing so much water,
as his frail frame
demanded so little space
from the world
where his feet must have been
when he bathed
and I’d pay penance
for my thick, healthy hair
that the shampoo would
release me from my reflection
in their mirror,
mingling with denture cream
and the rows of bottles
like little gravestones,
naming their dead
as I dressed
Naomi Tate Maghen
Please be indulgent with this eccentric poet
who places titles after poems,
and not before. )
is this a lesson in forgiveness?
we are the forest of Las Ramblas
shading an arrow pointing towards heaven
now thousands of candles shine
for the lost children
and others trying not to lose their way
this month no torrid heat
hastens our shedding leaves
they are not burnt by the light
pouring forth from these other worlds
hate has singed us with a dying throw of power
love says checkmate to its king
I am La Sagrada Familia
an unending tower touching the sun
a beacon chastising your impious
our waves sweep clean only the surface
the sea’s salt gives no dignity to tears shed in mourning
of beaches cannot cauterize this much bloodshed
postcards to grandparents
received after funerals
colorful fiestas of youth
did you know
Freddy Mercury and Monserrat Caballé
once sang “just close your eyes
and let’s pretend we were dancing
in the streets”
those last smiles
what happens to the future when battery rams plunge into the hearts
of those too soon sleeping against marble?
can poems mourn enough?
until I came
I am violently in love!
or even waver
I can’t envision . . .
Ventura in a Volvo
veer in vain