Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Laura Lee Washburn’

Happy by Laura Lee Washburn

Happy showed up late in the 19th centurypubphoto

like another version of the burden of slim bodies

or mother as the keeper of the hearth

or father as the strong man replete with ax

and barbells shaped like, well, bells. Bells

were for happy, too, the jester, jerk, dwarf,

fool. Now happy makes you mad

because you’re filled up with some chemical

to keep your cough down or your sleep

in check. You think you remember happy

and you think your neighbor’s got happy

and your neighbor’s smiling, but you

know smiles are the worst sort of darkness,

teeth you can fall a mile into, like kissing

and the tongues that throw germs

up into your palate until you’re gasping

for breaths and even phone calls are a chore,

but on the phone no smile’s required.

The bus driver pulled over and stopped

and said a lot of words about everyone

settling down RIGHT NOW, and you, you

young lady, why are you smiling, what

do you think is so funny? Happy wasn’t around,

and you didn’t even know you were.

We need a new word for not afraid, for not

worried to death, for not fighting,

for worried but hanging in there, for

my hair’s clean and the dog didn’t pee

on the floor and the refrigerator’s full

and I might steam some broccoli later,

for I can move, and for all I care

the past can go fuck itself and fuck happy, too

~ Laura Lee Washburn

Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University, Laura Lee Washburn, is an editorial board member of the Woodley Memorial Press, and the author of  This Good Warm Place (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Valparaiso Review, The Sun, The Journal, and elsewhere.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has lived in Pittsburg since 1997.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky.

85. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Laura Lee Washburn

Too many weeks this summer the flags have been ordered
flown at half mast.  I think of the armed troops facing miner’s wives
and daughters.  Just this spring a smaller group marched the capitol.

Half the state’s billboards are against us, and in one county
the farmers have taken away the pill.  This state would take the child

from its only surviving mother, and it’s not alone in that.
We make our plans in the belly of the Carnegie library
as the neighborhood fox slinks along under the pinpricked sky.

Something is moving along the horizon; we’re a dark speck that glows
and grows large, starry-eyed women poised to take back our history.

– Laura Lee Washburn

98. Profession

for the teachers

 

Has summer ever not wound to school,

wounding me with its insistent buzz and chirp:

work, work, work; done and gone, done and gone.

 

I try to freeze the days with compressors and sleep,

keep the nights as late as I can, blinking dots and books.

A few tasks, the mechanic’s, the stylist’s, the party, and the jaunt.

 

When the moon blooms full and bright as marigolds

and the naked ladies pop up pink and plain as ever

while the marsh mallows wave over small rooftops,

 

and the cicadas are stunned and dragged down

into burrows to live twice their lives

as food for some other species’ young,

 

we wake again and go, we teachers, we book-holders,

we paralyzed buzzers, our hair trimmed and our clothes new,

we go unarmed into their burrows, bringing our lives along.

– Laura Lee Washburn

Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University, Laura Lee Washburn, is an editorial board member of the Woodley Memorial Press, and the author of  This Good Warm Place (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Valparaiso Review, The Sun, The Journal, and elsewhere.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has lived in Pittsburg since 1997.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky.

44. Lily-flowered Tulips

My hands are covered in dirt.

I dig in dank soil,

dense enough to bend back

the cheap handle of our new-bought

bulb-planting tool. Mosquitos

blur between my eyes and bangs

 

and I can’t wipe my face from sweat

with these earthen hands. In each

tubed hole, I reach an old spoon

to tap its tip against the brasting bulb.

I am trying to see into the earth

 

but the dark minions are in my eyes

and the green flopping leaves of hosta

remind me how many things, from

plant to double-headed dog

or gatekeeper waiting for change

are meant to keep me

from seeing or living down into it.

 

Our world wants up

amongst the bite and sting and sweat.

The dug earth might smell

of wet dog and blackened leaf,

and the tulips might wave to us

each spring coming,

 

but they’re as close as we can get

and not nearly enough: no

merging of our world will ever occur

with that of our still loved

and harder and harder to remember dead.

– Laura Lee Washburn

Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University, Laura Lee Washburn, is an editorial board member of the Woodley Memorial Press, and the author of  This Good Warm Place (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Valparaiso Review, The Sun, The Journal, and elsewhere.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has lived in Pittsburg since 1997.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky.

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 389 other followers