These are poems by Lois Marie Harrod.
At ten in the morning, the day I failed
my driving test, shifting that big black Buick,
every poem should have a Buick, shifting
that big black Buick from first to second
in the middle of an intersection, stupid,
said the licensing officer, the big beefy
testing officer sitting beside me, dangerous, every poem
should have a danger, don’t you know
when the clutch is in, the car is out
of control? and I didn’t. I can’t pass you, he said,
wiping his beefy forehead
with his beefy hand, every poem
should have something beefy in it,
as if he had been in real danger
in the middle of that Belmont Avenue intersection—
not another car in sight
not even a cell phone in my hand,
just skinny little me in that beefy Buick.
I was sixteen.
Wysiwyg—What you see is what you get
It is not difficult
to stage the visible,
to prevent the clatter
within the chatter,
that long history
of sleight-of and off-hand
hand, the Cro-magnon
pointing to the hills
why don’t you believe me?
I don’t want your cave—
as he grabs the ax handle
of his brother,
Or at the Office
of Refugee Resettlement
one bureaucrat encourages
a pregnant teen
to refuse abortions,
another refuses her
the right to remain.
No mi cuerpo
No my body,
my rights visible.
At book club
a friend demands,
Why all this subtext
and hidden meaning?
Why can’t we just enjoy
what is there?
as if what is there
The Unsolved Departure of the Common X
It had been a long night on the beat
and a long walk back to the tall house
where the gumshoe took himself to sleep.
And when he stumbled in, he crawled
to bed without noticing the rope
with a name scrawled
in its loops. The practical joke
of her goodbye? The diary copped?
She had been gone fourteen tears
and still had a secret under wraps.
How else explain her perfume floating
down the hemp. He sat down, caressed
the scrabble and pulled out the sentence.
“Dear Joe,” it began. “Dear Joe . . .”
Not as cream slips into coffee
or oil onto water—with or without mixing
but as one day becomes the next.
It is morning. We eat the same
yogurt and blueberries
the same almonds for breakfast
and the spoon slips into the mouth
and the food slips down the throat,
one thing becomes another,
the double XX’s turn on and off,
one day I am my father
worrying about salvation,
the next my mother
anguishing over the dirty sink.
Where is the Clorox
to rinse it all away?
Who is offensive, who is not,
our affections skid
like someone on unsteady skates,
what did I feel when I first loved you?
Who knows what remains,
what slides away.
Lois Marie Harrod’s 17th collection Woman is forthcoming from Blue Lyra in December 2019. Her Nightmares of the Minor Poet appeared in June 2016 from Five Oaks; her chapbook And She Took the Heart appeared in January 2016; Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. A Dodge poet, she is published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches at the Evergreen Forum in Princeton and at The College of New Jersey. Links to her online work: www.loismarieharrod.org.