Word Poetry

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Sample Poems by Martha Deborah Hall


Let's Tarry

In childhood, there were silver casserole dishes and silverware, silver bracelets, necklaces, Christmas tree bulbs, silver-laced ballerina shoes. Add classic Jaguars, large square foot mansions in which my little piano notes tried to dress up and make every room happy. But with all the neat white pillow cases, brightened white teeth, and white picket fences, I finally had to down white sleeping pills and couldn't unlock any inside gold. Life couldn't do the math. My insides were bible black. Money brought us boats, books and barns, but it didn't cure the bankrupt interiors of us damaged children. I finally learned that the more counter space you have in your kitchen, the more you have to clean. Childhood wounds were never balls of fluff. Inside I had nothing at all. Through a magnifying glass I finally saw that most of the above items read "silver-plated." I traipse along on my way now, refuse to allow myself to tarry in that rubble.


The Building Where You "Stepped Off the Roof"

I returned there fifty years later, gazed up at the "unlocked window" I read of in the asylum report. I was only nine when it happened, too little to catch you. But I certainly would've tried. The social isolation I've felt since has chronically placed my happiness at risk. The final disappointment is the inside of me. They said in a movie I saw once that "justifiable anger is a powerful tool for personal and social justice." I say anger kills.



Complex Humanity
Insecurity for an artist can ultimately be a gift, albeit an excruciating one.
Sally Mann, Hold Still

Why did you have the three of us, Judy, Kappy and me? Why did you give us piano lessons in tune with the metronome and its back and forth synchronicity? Why those cuddly, warm winter suits you sewed, with those strong ivory black buttons? Why teach the art of how nurses fold the sides of sheets under a patients' mattress? Why bother to have us sit in the pews while you played the organ and sang with us and the rest of the congregation "How Great thou Art"? Why have us say prayers every night, giving each of us a hug? Why teach us to high jump in our beautiful back yard? Why cook butter-topped mashed potatoes for Sunday afternoon guests? Why did you leave? Why did you kill us as well as yourself?


Beyond the Eight Ball

Feel like I've been there since I was nine in the year when my mother jumped. Darker springs gone, I try to dance in the non-wrinkles of her skin and at the right end of her rainbows, stay in the streams of her life. Her sacred memories I'll restore. I've hung up her gorgeous artwork, try to be what I think she came on earth to see in her child. No longer is there that little girl in church listening to her beautifully play both the organ and the piano, but I try to imitate the white life in her and hold onto both the gravity and the soaring angel in her. I want to consecrate until my death the dying old and reborn youth of her, try to remember differences between the nights and days in her. I don't wish to be a child fabricated of plain glass but one imbued with the granite of her heart of gold. But back in the old days, after her departure, our cleaning lady/helper made us sandwiches in alphabetized-colored lunch boxes. Mine were placed in a black-tinned one for my nickname was Buffy. It had a plastic-split-almost-in-two handle, rust marks on all sides. As I carried it, I wanted someone to bring me sunflowers to place in my straight hair to give my trips to school some daily walkability and verve. However, it seemed no one would notice me one way or the other-with or without them. Perhaps that's when my anger started to express. I heard someone on the radio say, "Hey Broads, get angry. Get noticed." So I started in. I'm now seventy-four years old living in New Hampshire. I went to bed last night, on New Year's Eve, at nine o'clock, woke up this morning on the first day of 2016 as happy as I've ever been. I did come up with some resolutions to make my life easier and happier. One was to put clothes right-side-in after I launder them to make it easier and quicker for me to get dressed in the morning. I willed the lump on my left breast to go bye-bye. It hasn't so far, but the ob-gyn did say it was okay. I recognize that in this day and age we can live to well over one- hundred years old, so I try to remember we can possibly have a two-hundred year old lasting effect on our children and theirs. So let's get off the ice-skating rinks in life, stop going around and around and move straight forward out across our trails. We're echoes through the decades. Our wafting and howling winds can blow mown grass through the centuries. I'm still not afraid to run in the snow at my age, but it's New Year's Day so I put my feet up on the coffee table and let go. I'll probably put my resolutions on the back burner again. It's okay. It's really ducky, and this is not at all unusual for me or anyone else.