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spacer.gif   Susan Spaeth Cherry
Posted by : Please Sign Your Nam on Monday, January 03, 2005 - 12:14 PM
Poetry:  Click On The Author's Name .

Love it’s not,
even though it’s supposed to be.

The poems arrive in tails and cummerbunds,
roses in their white-gloved hands,

and escort me to five-star establishments,
where every waiter knows them by name.

They never spill wine on their ruffled shirts,
never say “was” instead of “were.”

They lead as we waltz, frowning slightly
whenever I step on their patent pumps.

I endure their caresses, pretending their fingers
aren’t cold and rubbery as whales,

and silently crave a polka, a beer,
a peppery tryst in a Chevy’s back seat.


Every Friday for forty years,
Papa came home from his job in town
with an overwhelm of yellow daisies
neatly wrapped in cellophane.

He’d present them to Mama as if he’d just
corralled a galaxy of suns.
She always acted surprised as an ingenue
given her very first bouquet.

Carefully, she’d cut the stems
and place them in the same blue vase,
while Papa glowed like a supernova.

Once, when she was polishing
a table under the newest blooms,
she suddenly confided

that she’d hated daisies all her life.
“But don’t tell Papa,” she exhorted,
swearing me to secrecy.

Today I place a modest bunch
of irises upon her grave
beside the lavish, yellow spray
Papa will replace next week.



Punk-haired teenager
hard-headed as December
sweet as May at heart


Kali of the ground
burning buds with the torches
in her many arms


Green-collared canine
whose intimidating bark
is worse than its bite


Pudgy scatterbrain
always misplacing razors
needing a clean shave


Herculean fist
blistered from its macho vow
to avoid sunscreen


Modest ingenue
aggressive under layers
of thin petticoats


is a giant dune
that changes shape with every gust

showering grit on daily life
like rice upon a bride and groom.

It plugs the ears and floods the eyes,
peppers tongues and open wounds

piles up in socks and shoes
until it hampers every move

growing fast despite attempts
to bulldoze with the intellect.


With six weeks left before you go,
we poke through aisles of merchandise,
scrutinizing towels for flaws,
examining lamps and drying racks,
as if the wrong choice could hex your success.

You gleam as I pile the wheeled cart
with blankets and sheets, a bulletin board,
a radio, a sewing kit, a clock with an alarm that chirps,
as if cramming the basket’s every cranny
could fill the hollows in my heart.

I load our purchases on the conveyor,
faking excitement, trying to cover
the anguish of losing what never was mine--
the child I birthed, then relinquished to Time.


No longer able
to stand alone,
he sits on the edge
of the unmade bed,
eyeing the denim enemy
I’ve laid upon his lap.

His fingers grip
the waistband
with desire
and determinedness
that interlock
like zipper teeth.
Bending slowly
toward his toes,
he tries to slide
the trousers
over flaccid feet,
wobbling like a tired top.

He flushes
like a schoolboy
who cannot recite
his ABCs,
straightens up and curses,
repeats the scene
with no success.
I feel goose bumps
on my flesh
as sweat runs down
his brow and neck.

A wild urge
to intervene
races through
my every cell, bucking
as I lasso it
with visions
of his trampled face
when last I galloped
to his aid.

Bridling my need,
I wait.


While the pedigreed of Julliard
warm up in their tuxes and long
black skirts, a mutt of a man
in a loose Salvation Army coat
lobs grenades of notes at the throng
trooping into the concert hall.

He huffs and puffs a punishment
of brass and steel,
the instrumental equivalent
of Job’s afflictions,
dented and scratched as if it had tumbled
off the roof of his zealousness.

Repeating a theme from Die Meistersinger
(the only tune he seems to know)
he sporadically motions toward his feet,
where an empty case lies open
like a toothless mouth that hankers
for the savory taste of dollar bills.

Later, when the trash cans brim
with ticket stubs and program notes,
the tuba man plays Wagner
to the rhythm of the city’s snores,
practicing for tomorrow’s performance,
a virtuoso of the ignored.

Note: Susan Spaeth Cherry is the author of three poetry books: "Breaking Into the Safe of Life," "Sonata in the Key of Being," and "Hole to Whole."

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