Friday, January 24, 2014

Robert Demaree- A Poem


What must it sound like,
The idiom of our tongue,
If you have come from other shores:
Listening to tapes
In classrooms below ground,
Beads of dampness on cold cinderblock,
Trying to apprehend small meanings
(Preposterous proposition):
Run in, run over, run down;
Dress down, dress out, dress up.
Would it be the same
For someone to come on to you,
Or come out?

Language, quixotic, carries weight
It cannot bear.
A boy spent hours in practice—
Tennis, piano scales, free throws.
Later he practiced medicine,
His sister practiced law,
Always getting ready, it seemed,
For something else.
At the restaurant
He thought of a bad pun
And made a note:
He also waits
Who only stands and serves.

Language tells you what it sees,
So pejorative becomes
I want to hear about people
Who are ept, couth,
Ruthful, clueful souls with
Shevelled hair.
Do you remember when we
Worried about creeping -ism’s?
An ancient word, meant to
Mock the sound of
Those who do not talk like you.

The English teacher had asked
A Latin student of mine
About the mood of a piece;
Dark, foreboding were answers
He had in mind.
Subjunctive, the boy replied. Others laughed,
As though wit might somehow lie in
The hand tools on my father’s bench,
Which I could neither name nor use.
If I was you, I joked,
I’d pay more attention
To the future less vivid,
The present contrary to fact.

Robert Demaree is the author of two book-length collections of poems, including Mileposts, October 2009, published by Beech River Books, and a chapbook, Things He Thought He Already Knew, published online in 2007 by Slow Trains.  A third book-length collection will be published in late spring 2014. The winner of the 2013 Burlington Writers Club Poetry Award, he is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, where he lives four months of the year. He has had over 650 poems published or accepted by 150 periodicals. For further information see 

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