Mrs. Dickinson Waits in the Car
My Mother does not care for thought—
A few meager stars, a hazy moon
brighter than old Kentuck,
and a bulge of frost spooned
across the windshield like a plucked,
flash-frozen chick. Into this arctic
chariot, the heater chafes and spouts
its idiot vows. Yes, I lied about Kentuck.
No doubt, it’s glowing like all get-out,
like a pair of gibbous moons, like molten
honey dripped into a summer lake.
Blame art, then: I’ve been soaking up Bolton’s
poems, and now I’m acting like a fake
southerner, which is to say gothically
depressed while making love to every rum-
soaked predicate I meet. Treat gothically
as a ringer for New England numb.
Today a friendly rube lauded my skill
at prosy contemplation, but what a crock.
Call a heart a spade: call me a fading, moody kill-
joy with a romance eye for loss and schlock.
The car fan chatters hopelessly; newsmen
chant wind-chill rates and hockey stats.
Like any hausfrau I fret over loaves in the oven,
socks on the line, carboys of milk, and ruinous vats
of soup. There they burn or boil.
Here I dally in this wrapper-strewn capsule,
this (laugh with me!) bell jar. Can I stand loyal
to her, cruel queen of diction, and also rule
my roost, my squat piratical outpost?
I shiver; I prop my tome of poems
against the cruiser’s plastic wheel. I boast
that they age for me: these jeroboams
of syntax, these sherry cups of rage.
Yet these tired hands; yet these cold feet.
Go ahead: remind me to shut up, to flip the page,
to change the station, to bleat
of Mother’s lonely vigil.
I’m not proud of my idle arrogance.
Meanwhile, the rye loaf chars and the milk spills.
They’re out of my ken, for a hatful of minutes.
Let me claim to be oracular.
“Poetry is not like reasoning,” urges Shelley.
And I reply: “nothing in particular”
is the maiden speech of every tragedy.
[forthcoming in Same Old Story (CavanKerry Press, 2014)]