Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jennifer Lagier- Three Poems & Photos

Where We Grew Up

The walls had hooks,
wire barbs reaching from stucco
to rip a child's skin.
From time to time,
fireballs would spin
around the asphalt kitchen floor,
drain pipes gave off an odd glow
beneath the yellow tiled sink.

I remember the hot breath
of some invisible presence
standing between my sister and me,
alone and afraid
in our maple twin beds.
Dad whimpered in his sleep;
mother turned and turned,
grinding her teeth.

Sometimes on hot summer evenings
we could hear the distant cries
of injured late shift cannery workers
as they tried pulling crushed limbs
from relentless moving cogs
or assembly line belts.

The rising delta wind brought
their moaning pleas into stifling rooms
where we wept our way through bad dreams,
windows open as wide as they would go.
Every sound carried.

Witch Hunt

You recall tarnished rosaries
chanted weekly
to ward off bad blood,
remember the red pattern
tattooed by wire coat hangers
on a child's skin.

Frozen grey photos
from the Siberia of our attic
show the manicured party facade:
matching dresses, tiny hats,
patent leather shoes,
Sunday veils and white gloves.

You search for evidence among
nostalgia's boxed ruins,
find only the toxic soundtrack
which plays on endlessly,
dropping words like incompetent, failure,
into dark seams.

Nightmares, fanged predators,
label every possible flaw.
You swallow whatever potion
will unwind the poisoned necklace of thorns,
undo a witch's curse,
remove the lethal apple pushed with love
down a little girl's throat.

Coffee Klatch

Something compels me
to visit the donut & coffee shop
where my dead father
and his cronies
used to hang out.
Farmers, ag supply salesmen
occupy every table, drink in
right-wing political commentary,
local gossip, sexist remarks,
not another woman in sight.
Evening the odds,
I invite female cousins
to join my sister and myself
for cups of terrible brew.
We commandeer our own space,
force men to move from chairs
they’ve called theirs over 35 years.
We shriek, compare men’s laughter
to the sound of untuned Harleys,
share priceless phrases
we’ve just overheard.
Unable to adjust
to women with opinions,
geezers grumble.
We’ve invaded,
good old boy territory.
Twenty minutes later,
run off the last of them,
declare the place ours,
a testosterone-free zone,
plan our next offensive,
tip the counter girl well.

Jennifer Lagier befriended garter snakes at an early age, graduated to dead snakes as she matured, discovered they make inattentive husbands and lovers.

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