Matt Potter 1:52 p.m., Nov. 11
Finish! And find a job. And pay the landlord.
Three poems by Maryann Corbett
- Their backs bent double and their heads kept low,
- the seedling maples infiltrate the row.
- A tyrant with a keen idea of order,
- I slaughter the insurgents at the border,
- scuffle and slash and yank and pluck and tweeze.
- But revolution pinwheels down the breeze:
- Acres of green back gardens — maple-graced —
- rain down new hopes that root in rot and waste
- to rise demanding, mindless, ruthless, rife.
- All forces fail against their rabble life,
- their want that everlastingly insists.
- They lift their heads. And then they raise their fists.
- (Previously published in River Styx)
- Yes, any idiot might be carrying here.
- No taped-up gun-ban sign, square capitals
- flapping against the supermarket doors:
- FOODCO BANS FIREARMS IN THESE PREMISES.
- Nada. So anybody might be packing.
- But aren’t we always at each other’s mercy?
- Guileless and stubby-fingered as the toddler
- who grubbed in his mother’s purse and shot her dead,
- we never know what triggers we might pull.
- Every word, a small bomb at the roadside:
- Lob the grenade of your long and placid marriage
- at the gray clerk, alone again at sixty.
- Grandchild-gossip — it’s acid in the face
- of the woman down the aisle, still empty-armed.
- Even now amid the produce bins,
- as Marvin Gaye wails heard it through the grapevine,
- the man beside you is setting his broccoli down
- abruptly, as though skewered through the vitals.
- Once, the child of a neighbor down the alley
- (kid just getting the hang of chubby pencils;
- mother barely a nod-and-wave acquaintance)
- stopped me, urgent of eyebrows, face a puzzle,
- asking, would I be going back to school now?
- No, I chuckled, I’d had enough of schooling.
- (That left out the specifics: strings of letters
- straggling after my name; gilt-edged diplomas.)
- Here’s what held in my brain: the pang of grown-up
- panic wringing his answer: “But you have to!
- Finish! And find a job. And pay the landlord.”
- Little ears, so expert at overhearing....
- (How I handled the rest, the conversation
- turning matters around to chalk and crayons,
- memory muddles now. But the scar of hearing
- woe not meant for my ears — it’s a welt, still tender.)