Workshop Poem; or, Sorry, Austin
One participant said saxophones
are always being asked to do
too much work in poems.
They are always there growling about
sex, and cigarettes smoking alone, it seems
to me. And so, she objected. Another woman
felt that way about cicadas. You know,
she said, theyíre always there in the background
with their dizzy wings, the infernal saw
of Georgia nights, or Mississippi,
or some godawful Southern swamp. They never work.
Sorry. For me, offered the last, itís bougainvilleas.
And they all agreed. The heavy-scented,
head-filling veil of their pungency, wafting
or whatever, across the veranda, itís predictable.
And then thereís that thing about Vietnam,
the association with the Mekong Delta, or bombs,
or I donít know, but bougainvilleas are just
too much. And so there we were,
with the cicadas and the saxophones and the bougainvilleas
roaring around the table, the poem
flat and quiet between us. Our work
here is done, one announced. Thank you
for the generosity of your words.
from her book, The Farmer's Daughter, Red Hen Press, 2003
The worst color and two coats
of it thick on the desk
that I want for my work. Three
kinds of stripping solution, steel wool,
turpentine, finally de-natured
alcohol does the trick, lifts
malignant stain from the deep grain,
gives me back the lines
of raw wood, corners grey and rough
where damage must be scrubbed smooth.
But now it is my desk; I own
its very skin, have claimed its planed surface,
brace, and drawer with chafed hands,
stiff neck, cramped back stooped
to abrade its dark belly, squared legs.
And hard varnished to slick
and shining surface, I set my light,
my book, my clean sheets,
dangerous points upon it, and when asked
about my work I say: If
you want to write, then do it.