Had I hatched from some idyllic nest,
where sober sires repaired each night
to regurgitate remnants of their dismal days,
our family forest might not have been the angry arena
of cruel caws and drunken brawls, giving way
to sullen, scary silences: the watchful eye
of booze-filled hurricanes making landfall on our heads
when least expected.
Some parts of me do come from Daddy:
prodigious elm cut down too late, sarcastic wit
the sharpened saw. World wariness,
a manic side. A voice to sing,
and words that sting.
From Mom, I got the urge to be in charge
but lacking any power to do it. Bitter sap
whose pressure builds until our family trunk explodes,
taking nearly the whole damn tree with it.
For years, I flitted from church to church,
seeking an oaken pew with my own name on it,
and under it a survivor's soul
to help me through another season.
The Night I Called His Wife
Coming to terms with personal shadows,
embracing the muck. Trample on grammar
and syntax. Go everywhere
you don't want to look. So drunk one night,
I crank-called his wife,
to share lies we were living.
The press of his hand
on the back of my new silky dress
as we whirled round the floor.
The shy way he asked for my help
choosing presents for his kids' birthdays.
How in moments of passion,
he never cries out
your name, but he craves
my tuna casserole.
What Greek sin of pride
made me blurt out my name?
Thanks to Star-69, she called back right away
to cry and implore me
to leave her alone. Small comfort,
this suffering out loud.
Afterward, the room reeked
of my carrion lust for this woman’s
It shouldn’t have been willed to me.
I’m not an emerald and baguette diamond girl;
I’m set in steel, not platinum.
It’s technically a dinner ring,
but we all knew it as a form of circular apology
for cocktail hour bruises,
a pretty bit of bribery paid in advance
of future conjugal abuse.
For twenty-three long years,
I kept it tucked away
in an emotionally distant drawer.
My sister’s house needs a new roof,
and something good may finally come
of all that ostentatious glinting.
Before I left the jewelry store, I kissed those gems
that once adorned a hand now far beyond
These three poems were previously published in Dual Exposure, Poems by Barbara Saxton, Blue Light Press, 2015)
Professionally, Barbara Saxton has worked as a translator, financial services consultant, and middle and high school English teacher. Not as lucrative but equally (or more) engaging life pursuits include performing diverse genres of classical and folk music and dance (particularly Eastern European) and, of course, reading and writing poetry and other forms of literature. After many years of sharing original works only with more or less captive audiences, semi-retirement has enabled Barbara to create and polish more of her pieces for wider distribution. She definitely appreciates Diane Frank, and many other poets involved in Blue Light Press' online and summer workshops, for their invaluable constructive criticism and encouragement.
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