Word Poetry

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Sample Poems by Faith Shearin


Each Apple

At thirty-nine, each apple reminds
me of some other. The memory lives
in objects: fallen from trees or baked
like pie. I kiss my daughter and
remember my own face kissed.
All Broadway music is from a play
I saw with my father when his
eyes were fine. Maybe this explains why
the very old don’t leave their houses,
why they eat no more than a few bites?
Drunk, full really, on memory
there is little room for anything new.
Each word has been spoken by a
thousand voices, each face is another
face rearranged. Night grows
thin and sticky as a spider’s web:
even blue moons are not so rare.


Fever

My father was born smart, like his mother.
I can still see her in bed with a book.
They lived in a working class neighborhood.
My grandfather knew the hidden world of pipes.

I can still see her in bed with a book.
What did she wish in the thick southern night?
She taught my father to read early.
My grandfather came home dressed in darkness.

What did she wish in the thick southern night?
She was seventeen when my father was born.
It was a difficult birth: two drugged days.
My father was born with a fever.

She was seventeen when my father was born.
Women had families, not ambitions.
She wasn’t supposed to read Tolstoy in the kitchen.
My father was her chance.

Women had families, not ambitions.
The trees in their yard grew flowers as big as fists.
There wasn’t much time to grow up.
My grandfather died young, in his sleep.

The trees in their yard grew flowers as big as fists.
My grandfather came home dressed in darkness.
Women had families, not ambitions.
My father was born with a fever.



Hail Baltimore!

Hail Baltimore, city of row houses!
Our house is within thee.
Blessed art thou among cities,
and blessed are your trees which drop
flower petals over our days.
Heavenly Baltimore, place of back alleys
and fence neighbors and cats who moan,
pray for us as we sleep beneath
your vines, now and next week
when the mortgage is due.
Amen.


 

The Singer

My grandmothers made clothes and curtains:
bolts of cloth, a sewing machine that sang
like a cricket, needles like weeds beneath
our feet. Their patterns made maps
on the table. How did I lose so many scraps
of that womanhood? I didn’t use lipstick
because it bled when I ate or kissed and
I was embarrassed by purses which open
like vaginas in childbirth. I wouldn’t wear
high heels and run. So no one taught me
to sew or iron: we all saw the way one
drew blood and the other made everything flat.