Word Poetry

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Sample Poems by Martha Deborah Hall


Dear Silver Knives

You no longer have a cutting edge. I have the right of way, so watch out, all you empty moving vans. You're nothing of import. You've been tarnishing in a fifty-cubic-foot plastic container in the back of my guest room closet for over thirteen years now. Not one of my children has shown any interest in picking you up and bringing you to their homes. They know they shouldn't store dreams in empty paper bags. I thought the monetary symbol of owning you could walk me to the moon. But lack of not being able to show you off has not stopped my pace, nor my interest in what is fair and important on the face of this earth. I've learned that instead of stitching life's hems with faux golden threads one can, in seconds, mend them with Velcro. Need for your insignificance did take time to be inculcated. I've learned to take my children's advice for once. Silver objects cannot make you feel content without your consent. This message is imbued in my heart. And yours?


Find Me…

In the naughty corner where only recently, at the age of seventy-three, I've determined I rarely did anything wrong to have to be there. See me in backseats of autos, cringing as my parents screamed at each other. View me at the dentist's office where to this very week I still lay out thousands per year. He is the only man I get physically close to as he drills away on my latest cavity. Find my mental interior horrors that I try but can't wash away in showers each morning. Hear me, decades ago, entering our Vermont summer cabin, after a walk up the mountain with dad, to find mother lying unconscious on the kitchen floor surrounded by a dozen bottles of prescription pills. Smash into the open memories of the number of ambulances that came to try to save her from her latest attempt. Listen to this child who tried to cry out for help for all of us to no avail. Taste my run-less tears that I try not to stuff anymore. Have you tried to seed happiness without running water to grow it? I am from puritanical Mayflower Ivory soap on mom's side, from dad's blue eyes and Swedish blond hair on the other. One parent felt, the other stuffed it. Now I try to wash my white fur-filled boots in the shower at the end of their season, store them and my mental wounds away until some future winter. I can't let myself be swallowed by past memories. I'm anchored now, have learned not to feel insufficient and/or insecure unless I concur it's correct. I can bud and perk up. But I can still hear her beautifully playing a Chopin Polonaise on the piano. God, I loved her. I missed her just one second ago.



It Doesn't Take Much to Amuse Me

Yesterday I broke my own spider web. For the first time in my life I decided to do whatever I wanted. I wouldn't succumb to work, walking to take weight off, no watering of in or outdoor plants, no washing floors. It didn't start too great as for about ten minutes I searched all around upstairs to find my second white sock. It turned out I had put them both on my left foot. Oh well… Anyway, I went onto my patio and weeded for several hours. My gift to the Complex where I live is to execute-excavate hundreds, no thousands, of dandelions attached to their concrete taproots. Yesterday, like the shoemaker's daughter who never had nicely, repaired shoes, I tackled my own weedies. Unafraid of a predicted rainstorm, I dressed appropriately, ready to stay the course. I scraped a screwdriver against each brick and then picked up and threw each weed into a grey plastic bag wrapped around the rim of my orange pail. Slam, wham, bang, I murdered as many as possible, felt as committed to my goals as two of my grandchildren at their lacrosse game yesterday. I got angry as I thought I had already destroyed them last year and the year before. But back they came. I don't make dandelion soup or wine out of them. I would recycle if for a good cause, but they are of no import to me. Haven't you heard them say anger is the second stage of grief? Yeah, but not for me. I stand, carry them all to my dumpster and throw.

Here's what else I did yesterday. In the afternoon I put on my straw hat with the imprinted sunflower on its brim, borrowed my neighbor's fish pole, went down to our pond and stretched out on the new-mown grass. Placing the pole on my left foot which was resting on my right knee, I securely grounded a cup of French vanilla coffee into the soil. As I rested there I contemplated what kind of a tree I'd like to be as discussed on a recent radio program. I came up with three answers: a pink flowering crabapple, a weeping willow or a crimson maple. I picked the crabapple. It would be easiest as I'm already a crab.



At My Place

If you hired a personal assistant, what are the things you hate doing most in life and what would you have her take care of?

Here's my list, not in any semblance of order, by the way: She'll place all my turtlenecks and bras right side in, change my sheets, make my bed each day, wash the fridge and microwave quite often along with the stove when and if I use it, which is practically never. The dryer vent should be cleaned every fifteen minutes when it runs. I'd want the shower curtain fixed so it doesn't keep falling on my foot. She'll kick the myrtle outside to rid it of any slithering snakes, disallow any bicyclists to ride on roads I'm driving on. When she has five extra minutes, I'll ask her to run down to the Souhegan River to pick up the Christmas tree that slid off my car roof last December and bring it to the dump. I wonder if she'd mind shaving my legs. Oh, never mind, I can do that. But she will open all containers with my manual can opener. Yes, I'm still too penurious to buy an electric one. I almost bought one for about ten dollars several weeks ago but ended up putting it back on the shelf. I'll have her put one of each of my eight daily vitamins in a bowl for me to take every morning and then wash an apple, an orange, and a carrot for my daily breakfast along with two fried eggs once over lightly with two strips of medium to well-done bacon. She'll also make sure my dream green and white automobile, a bus, is called several times a week to come and pick me up in front of the Complex and take me to Marshall's, the Dollar Store and Market Basket. She could also set my hair. Actually, I don't like doing too much other than sleeping well and writing, and, most of all, being with loved ones and friends. They are the most important things who protect and shade me in life. I won't ask her to saw and stack any cordwood for my place in Amherst Village. I'll just sit and wait until my adorable grandchildren come over and help me do this in the autumns of our lives.