Word Poetry

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Site design: Skeleton

Sample Poems by Bernadette McBride


Planting Alone

White sky of July morning. The heat
pricks through the weave of her broad boater,
draws sweat along each strand of hair to pool
in the hat band, seep down through eyelashes

she swipes with her dirty cuff, its broken button
catching at the corner of her eye, drawing tears
to blur her vision. No matter. She's on a mission.

Her dirty, ovaled fingernails turn rainbow
up close in full sun, remind her
why she kneels here-the lush of cool soil
between her fingers, the dark damp, a release.

At the edge of her petaled beds, she plants
new vinca, pink and white-deterrents
to the deer who appear each morning to lick

the salt block, keep their daylight distance,
having scavenged overnight each effort she's made
with impatiens and pansy, tulip and zinnia,
toward beauty in this desperate garden.


Interior
-Peter Vilhelm Ilsted, 1896

Why is the tiny clock placed so high on the wall,
so distant from the life of the setting? The muted
girl, her smooth jug in hand, stands fixed, far,
in her silence, from the tick of time, the rush
of endeavor beyond this halved room. Hutch,
dress, table cover cluster-lit by the window's
thin shaft that hush-dapples each object in its
scope-evoke as much question as response.
Where did Ilsted desire our eye to roam?
To her? To the tabled glass bottle from which
his blue diffuses? Or did he purposely brush in
the clock with its weight in the negative space
of the painting-a reminder of the human hold
which defines everything framed.


Thursday Was Rubbish Day

Sizzling asphalt glinted sticky in the humid morning,
sucked at our sneaker soles as we waited

quiet, lining the curb, leaning in a collective squint
that pierced the haze; yearned toward the labored approach

of the four-wheeled dragon as it rumbled and roared from block
to city block. A steel behemoth, big-jawed, crunching,

it advanced, gulping the neighborhood's waste heaped
in dented silver barrels left and right-hand-fed

by filthy-gloved, muscled men with smeared faces,
sweat dripping through soot, trickling to the corners

of cigaretted mouths that promised us the next wave-
the water truck-that giant tortoise emerged, still dripping

from the city reservoir. We chased the cool slashes clear into
the next block, the lovely sooty spray splattering bare calves,

blackening ankle socks as we, in unbound glee,
leapt and whooped in the exquisite itch of summer.