Word Poetry

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Sample Poems by Martha Deborah Hall


Elegy



When autumn leaves scatter from the maples into glens,
when seagulls banter near the shores,
when someone serves little pony cupsaken (cupcakes) in July,
when horse-drawn sleighs pass by my front door,
I brood for you, I brood for you.


Presents


Nothing replaces absence. When someone's gone, they're just gone. I woke up in the black of night, having dreamed a nightmare sleigh ride where my sister covered her head with red mittens to hide the fact she was sobbing. Once awake, I recalled that Christmas morning when we twins were nine and my older sister thirteen. By then we all knew Santa to be a has-been. However, under the tree we found at least twenty meticulously-wrapped presents for each family member. Compassionate parishioners of our Episcopalian church must have delivered them the previous night as we three children lay sleeping. How imaginatively they were wrapped. How kind, selfless, and sensitive were these people. I was shy back in those days. But I diligently wrote each gift giver a gracious hand-written thank you. But in the dark side of my Virgo personality, I fussed and worried that these gifts were insignificant compared to the harsh and overcritical analysis of what I felt inside. My love of order was snowed under by the everlasting gift of my mother's recent death, her non-presence wrapped in a black, unraveling bow.


After Visiting My Sister's Grave


Plows are removed from snow trucks.
Sand's swept from formerly icy streets.
Strawberry shortcake's back on Cotton's menu.
The Farmer's Market starts on Thursday.
Fiddlehead ferns for supper tonight.
Pink bonnets on end caps at Macy's.
A pool opening party at Susie's.
Daisies bloom in my pocket garden.
New granite pavers form a path to the pond.
Violet-filled flower boxes sit on windowsills.
My neighbor feeds the pigeons again.
Why do I feel so chilled?

On Seeing My Twin And I In A Rerun Of A Doublemint Gum Ad From Fifty Years Ago

Kappy and I wore white and green matching outfits and white earmuffs. With welcoming smiles, we sat on a bench in Central Park, chewing gum. To the Doublemint photographers, we looked like virginal orchards, our eyelashes fluttering in the sunlight. Little did they know we were funeral flowers on the inside. My father had moved us to New York City because we were being bullied in the New Haven school system after our mother's eventful death. Beneath our one-day orchid, veiled nun demeanors lurked little adder's-mouths, devastated tarantulas.


Photo Drift


In the photo my twin, Kappy, sits on Mom's lap. I'm on Dad's. Or is it vice versa? We're twins, and I can't tell who is who. Our older sister Judy sits in the middle between our parents. We three girls are dressed in white blouses with starched collars. Over them, Judy wears a jumper, while Kappy and I wear adorable navy blue matching woolen suits. Judy's shoes are black patent leather Mary Jane's with a strap, while Kappy's and mine are lily white. One of us has an untied left shoe. Dad's in his typical tweed Brooks Brothers suit with a white shirt and a pin-striped necktie. A handkerchief is placed neatly in his breast pocket. His eyes seem calm and content. Mom has on black high heels and a gray shirt dress with black buttons. We sit on a tan couch with maroon trim, antique tables on each end. Behind it lie arched windows and a door, the scene a restful nest.

What strikes me most about the photo is the big, brown eyes of we three children. We seem so alert, so enthralled with the world, no sign yet of the future roiling brook in our souls, or the forks looming up ahead. But I know they are there: the rusted foot bridges and evaporated ponds. The toad floating dead in an outdoor water bucket. The ferrets invading our indoor balconies. Someone leaving a stuffed, dried-up turkey on our counter.

The negatives of this photo developing underground.