Today's poem is by Jendi Reiter


I am so tired of looking forward to things
like summer and the end of summer and of course my wedding,

not trying any longer for a meaningful day
between this random moment and the onset of the play

where I must learn everyone's lines in order to fit
into their script on cue. The freed butterflies flit

from their cages like a cloud,
or like an angry fate imprisoned by a god

and released by some rash mortal. In the air
they're an agreed delight, but tangled dying in someone's hair

like a veil askew, or crawling up an ankle
with a monstrous, sensuous tickle,

they're crushed without mercy. One crystal
glass is lifted, the other smashed under his heel.

That's the point of ceremony, separating
the washed from the unwashed, just as all this waiting

for festivals to redeem our profane time
pretends to cheat death by parceling him

out into orderly segments—as if artful bits of food
laid out on matching china had nothing to do

with shit or soil or the burgeoning, withering flesh.
Wedding presents make me think of death.

I obviously have a problem. The sighing trees move
their canopy over me and whisper Love, love,

let go of it all, and the lilies along
the aisle scatter pollen from their delicate tongues

like gossip, safely collective yet impossible
to withdraw once released into the wind's mumble.

I am indeed tired of trying to please and be pleased
and deferring to reasonable objections and remembering to say "We"

when discussing his money or my buttocks, and keeping peace
as one keeps a pet, chained to a leash,

while a spoiled little girl inside my brain
jumps up and down in a tantrum like a bug in a Mexican bean,

crying I, I, I!
                        Hell is other people's relatives.
No, it's not fair to blame them wholly if I live

the cross-examined life. Didn't I long
for all these props and prizes so I could prove them wrong,

the sneering imps of outcast childhood,
the men who were oblivious, hungry and ill-mannered?

And didn't he throw down the gauntlet
of his romantic faith to validate

his scorn for the popular who squandered intimacy
like drunks pissing in every alley?

We were already playing to the gallery,
wanting to share our love with the world, and maybe

rub their noses in it a little. But one can never
prove anything to the world, only make it surrender

by ignoring it or being ignored.
Consider the lilies of the field

which are so admired as they nod their beautiful heads
like empty golden cups, till the tank's tire treads

grind and flatten them into a feeble
unlovely silhouette; and then consider the pebble

which guards its hard round shape as the tires
roll over it and maybe even makes a a puncture.

Copyright © 2003 Jendi Reiter All rights reserved
from A Talent for Sadness
Turning Point
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Support Verse Daily

    Please support Verse Daily's very generous sponsors:
Sponsor Verse Daily!

Home    Archives   Web Monthly Features    About Verse Daily   FAQs  Submit to Verse Daily   Publications Noted & Received  

Copyright © 2002, 2003 Verse Daily All Rights Reserved