Joining the Monday Poem Club

On June 16, Leaf Press chose my poem “Undersong” as Monday’s poem. “Undersong” is in the 2014 archive of Monday poems soon. You can read it here:


the tap of Father’s wrench
through the kitchen screen;
me at the table, laminated
cloth, scrubbed, beneath
my elbows, notebook open, new
HB pencil in my fist, goldenrod
oracle for my novice story. Mother’s
dress sleeveless, white, voice lifting
and settling, a finch on a branch;
steam rising from her iron like breath.

I no longer wanted to cross the gravel
between house and shop, crouch quiet
with him at the tractor’s belly; oil black
blood welling, his fingers swiveling
serpent hoses and soot-coated thermoses.
He tried once to teach me to listen,
catch dropped beats in the motor’s pulse.
Eyes kind; comments few, when they came,
they fell like toy cars from a sheepish boy’s
pocket, dead weights on his steel-toed boots.

On my immaculate page, letters streamed
onto the sea-blue lines, notes in a tune,
my pencil the flute. Mother’s stories
first hers, then mine:
I made tell-tale leaves in her cup dark
stars in my universe; her sister, stillborn,
a waxen queen who laughed.
The tractor trilled past, but I didn’t see.

Now that wrought bass, its shy systolic
grace, is the undersong I wish to hear:
my words, only motley nuts and bolts,
require a dusty artisan to turn them
into hammered-gold strings on a lyre.

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