and jamie wouldn't eat her dinner.
0 used to be kids
ran out of beer and fell
down by fences.
fingered child abuse and
pretended we'd go away
if your car wasn't such
1 you are my little one.
if you're tired . . .
if you're hungry . . .
2 farming 101
we ain't blending in.
he stands at the foot
of the bed, pulls his shirt
off, his jeans. it's dark
out over fields and he holds me;
i tell him
i threw all our dreams away.
the big drawer full of them.
except the hogs,
i tell him we still got the hogs.
(there was a time when dreams meant
more to us than mortgages; there was a time
when we were going to name our little girl
savannah and hogs weren't pretty)
he smells like grass, worry lines
creeping through bigtoughman.
i intercept him.
the mailbox fell off
its post today
and we ain't got nothin no more
but the hogs.
tell him we still got
the hogs (i intercept
him, struggling to maintain
a tired erection. tell him
we don't have to tonight
(if you're tired . . .
if you're hungry . . . )
and he cries while it softens,
says . . . he ain't got nothin.)
he turns over and pretends he's asleep
but i hear the groan of the bed
at four thirty when he gets up to make sure
he's still got his kids;
his hogs, stuck securely on
his cardboard this-ain't-what-i-had-in-mind
3 if you're tired.
if you need more.
if you're done here.
if you're scared.
if you're angry,
if it's me.
if it's time.
if it's the color of wyoming hey
if it's here,
if it's never going to end.
we don't have to tonight.
4 he came in the shower in the morning.
just to prove he could. it was angry,
exploding, still tired, against slippery
walls. i heard him punch the shower curtain.
i heard him hit his knees when
it was over.
MARY BETH MAGIN
this morning i tossed
shapes plastic a little flat flimsy
and on the kitchen table. with my chalice i broke
the old sword free;
the water ran. the poems'
hung to be surveyed
next week. and with them
hiding under was
that letter from the physics professor, from
the university of pittsburgh, the three-page,
three-fold one your
parents glean. this prospect doesn't mean
anything to you except that there's a three-page,
three-fold traditional stamped letter
sleeping underneath all those poems. you wrote,
and once this seemed
wild. you swore you felt
underbrush. now it's half past six, it's time for break-
fast, and your teeth aren't excited
you shut the door carefully
when you choose to run. you cannot remember the scent
of a room
with a piano by its wall. you miss
when other things hid, you miss that sort of fall.
MARY BETH MAGIN
after love came
the horse. athena, swept away, actually appeared nervous
and flight-worthy: the grey
in her eyes,
shifting. she left quickly
i don't blame her.
a cave-in, might. maybe it was boredom. people never
believe us, but
pedro swore them
to see the
stick figures strewn
on the carpet,
the open scissors with their
red plastic handle. the after-
equation. first were
valentines, then newsprint horses. they were kind of
wobbly, those figures--the stilted growth of a
tail, the lumped muscles
a leg--but they
had a genius element, that artistry of don't
give a damn. all these children, wearing
corduroy pants. obscene. a revelation. slack-jawed
and here we stand, they drink
their orange drinks
and horses included
in the valley
it was never too late.
Father, darling, all night men
came to me in fertilized boxes,
wax hives and house-full grins.
Clinical ivory kicking to shock,
the little schizophrenic nurse dusts
what is left of your occupational shell.
My girl-fastened amnesiac
drew your horse flesh by day,
the hot fashion meal
drew you to polished tears.
Evaporating the perfect,
wife, mother, still child.
You split open letters,
grab the phone, static,
static you move to speak.
The dial tone, the corpse bell.
Being Young and Knowing a Little
I am sleeping, belly up to my neck.
The dead corpuscles are laughing.
Mother, I was never a Goddess.
I must confess I was 60's in high heels.
Short skirts, a pivot of knees.
Hands canning bottles as stingy as winter.
I know the moon itself was never new,
its green cheese was eaten by pilgrims.
The black and white Thanksgiving.
Together I let my hair down voiceless.
Silence is who I talk of much.
Her letters echo in my mind like arrowheads.
Aligned, they whisper only of past holidays.
1975 and 1975, it is a confession.
I was never the uniformed maid.
My black vertebras strung off me long ago.
Like Christmas, I am wrapped.
The plastic is my Father.
In private he eats me like cheesecake.
Youthful, I could never be more fascinated.
Fascination is my origami paperweight.
The phases are only temporary.