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OTI Online: 2008
The Poet's Eye:
Wife and dog missing.
Reward for the dog.
—bumper sticker on a pickup truck
The wife and the dog planned their escape
months in advance, laid up biscuits and bones,
waited for the careless moment when he’d forget
to latch the gate, then hightailed it.
They took shelter in the forest, camouflaged
the scent of their trail with leaves.
Free of him at last,
they peed with relief on a tree.
Time passed. They came and went as they pleased,
chased sticks when they felt like chasing sticks,
dug holes in what they came to regard
as their own backyard. They unlearned
how to roll over and play dead.
In spring the dog wandered off in pursuit
of a rabbit. Collared by a hunter and returned
to the master for $25, he lives
on a tight leash now.
He sleeps on the wife’s side of the bed,
whimpering, pressing his snout
into her pillow, breathing
the scent of her hair.
And the wife? She’s moved deep into the heart
of the forest. She walks
on all fours, fetches for no man, performs
no tricks. She is content. Only sometimes
she gets lonely, remembers how he would nuzzle
her cheek and comfort her when she twitched
and thrashed in her sleep.
Diane Lockward’s second collection, What Feeds Us (Wind Publications), received the 2006 Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize. Her poems appear in Garrison Keillor's Good Poems for Hard Times and in such journals as Harvard Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her poems have also been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. Please visit at dianelockward.com.
Rover Has Soft Ears; 2005; oil and alkyd on canvas
in their yarmulkas and prayer shawls
at the Sons of Israel
Gary Cohen’s father called to the torah on the High Holy Days
a Kohan from the numero uno tribe of the twelve
Mom in a hat
Cherries bananas and a little black veil
in the second floor balcony because
a pious man in prayer would see her hair
and Oy Gevalt
drop his siddur
Me Grandma and Mrs. Kaminetsky
The sirens of Elliott Avenue
Three deadliest of the seven sins
The kosher Temptations Do Ah Do Ah
girdled and gartered O My
What’s the big deal
Just because some stacked drop dead gorgeous Delilah
seduced Samson as if he had no say no control whatsoever
Or Eve tempting Adam Bite this apple Sweetie Pie
Adam practice this Say No
No thank you I’m just not hungry
Cover your eyes
Pick some fig leaves
Press them firmly to your eyelids
Just don’t dare say it’s the woman’s fault
cover her up in a hat
Or better yet declare this
National Men Wear a Bag on Your Head Day
Try sitting in the synagogue balcony
on a ninety degree day in a girdle and stockings
Don’t you dare distract us for one second
while we women sway and sing
Lois Rosen teaches English as a Second Language. Traprock Books published her poetry book, Pigeons.
Fresh Air; 2006; oil, alkyd, mixed media on canvas
My great grandmother had two choices:
eat grass or die even more quickly
of starvation. My grandmother had
two choices: get raped and killed
in a pogrom or get out of Lithuania
illegally, under a load of straw
to bear eleven children with never
enough of anything except babies.
My mother had three choices:
marry some guy with a job, go
on being a chambermaid fighting
off grabby hands of salesmen,
become a prostitute. She married
three times to workingmen who
abused her till death. She could not
imagine life beyond the female ghetto.
I had several choices: my mother’s
repeated, except work in an office
instead of a cheap hotel, put myself
through college over my parents’
objections since they expected me
to crouch in their home spitting out
weekly tiny paychecks. I could
choose sex rather than marriage;
I could live off my own labor
lifelong and explore my freedom:
guess what I chose.
Granddaughters of my brain
and labor, before you, a myriad
of doors. Don’t worry about skinny.
Don’t open the door to the tiger
of repression. Take the one
with sunshine behind it. The hot
one. Feed, strengthen your body.
Make love to your freedom;
marry it. Then leave your own
daughters a whole world of choice:
control over their bodies, their jobs,
their birthing, health and death.
No more programming to always
be second. Intelligent pride.
Women we can barely imagine.
Marge Piercy is the author of 17 novels, most recently Sex Wars (Harper Collins
Perennial) which also publishes her memoir Sleeping With Cats. She has 17 collections of poetry, most recently The Crooked Inheritance (Knopf) and a CD of her feminist & political poetry, Louder, We Can't Hear You Yet (Leapfrog).
The Great Indoors; 2007; oil and mixed media of canvas
Your forest goes green as love.
Your fern-shadows ride on the ground.
Moss they dapple curls above
stones your glacier trembled down.
Your night is sadness well-contained
inside the sap pushing the stem
of plants that grow the length of dark
and root in morning. Joy finds them.
Oceans, lost because they’re vast
(like ruined roads left on the land)
take your kind waters home each time
they, pushing at the sand,
make tides with your recovered rain.
The ocean is at peace again.
Far algae grows; the blue stays smooth;
in dim light, the beach is soothed.
Your forest goes green as love,
your night is sadness well-contained,
and oceans, lost because they’re vast,
make tides with your recovered rain.
Annie Finch is a poet, translator, editor, critic and librettist. Her books include Eve, Calendars, The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self, a translation of the poetry of Louise Labe, and the forthcoming Among the Goddesses:An Epic and Libretto (Red Hen Press). The first print publication of The Forest was in National Poetry Review. She lives in Maine where she directs the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing. Her website is anniefinch.com.