I wrote this poem, a broken sonnet, as part of a poem-a-day series I did last fall, on the approach of the winter solstice. It appears online (and in print) in Bear Review, out of St. Louis, Issue 3, Spring 2017.
November Sunset: 4:14 PM
As I cut the skinny branches of the smokebush
I hear a loud rattle in the sky. A black helicopter
descends, disappears. The noise of the chopper
carries from the playground at the end of the block.
I snip branches into small pieces, toss them
into the leaf bag with the rosebush clippings.
A woman walking by with her young daughters
tells me the helicopter med-vac’d someone,
deposited the accident victim with the EMTS.
The afterschool director ran out to investigate.
I drag the last leaf bag to lean against the retaining wall.
All that’s left alive: the rosemary, hellebore, a lone red cabbage.
The solstice approaches, a fixed point in the middle distance.
Inside, the black night shows itself in tall kitchen windows.
I’m pleased that my poem appears in Silver Birch’s My First JOB series, and wonder if a few of my former Rye Middle School students might stumble across this reminiscence…
I finished my degree, found a teaching post
at a good university, my chairman, a tall, broad
Iowa-bred guy of sixty with big hands, big feet,
Told big stories about flying in the bombing raids
On Dresden during the war. He seemed kind,
Jovial, devoted to the work.
He made sure I met all the right people at conferences,
encouraged me to publish more, he raved
in his observation reports about my classes.
He shared details of his
grown children’s good news, he praised his wife.
But one late afternoon in his office, when everyone else
Had gone home, when we were talking about plans
For summer school courses, when we had finished
Talking, when I had glanced at the bits of peanut shells
And husks on his desk, he suddenly rose from his chair,
The heavy green metal desk no longer between us,
Came at me fast, a strong arm swept around me, he
Began to pull me close. He said he’d
“earned the right to do this.” Stunned,
I leaned away, he pulled me in tighter. I ducked out
of this bear’s embrace, grabbed
my coat and book bag, ran upstairs to the lobby,
my heart thumping. The night custodian
slowly pushed his wide dust mop across the floor.
Shy, a man of few words, he smiled weakly at me,
Told me it was time to go home, his usual farewell.
When I got to my car my hand shook
as I tried the key in the ignition switch.
I didn’t tell anyone for years.
Yes, yes, my mother schooled me well,
said if this ever happens,
Kick him in the privates, or use
Your knee to the groin—as hard as you can.
I trusted this oaf, mistook him for a mentor.
Now I see it was all training me for that moment,
when students had disappeared to their dorms,
Faculty had packed up their lecture notes, headed home.
He had handled me as he would a feral cat,
slowly brought from the wild into his sphere of influence
With bits of food, kind words, shelter from weather.
It’s been decades. He’s dead now, or
I’d have a few words with that
Reprinted from Bad Hombres and Nasty Women, The Raving Press, 2017
Two of my poems appear in the May/Spring 2017 issue of the online South Florida Poetry Journal. You can find them here–and use the audio link to hear me read them! Scroll a long way down on the page –or do a Find /search for Viti.
I commend this poem to your attention–by Jackie Oldham, a Baltimore writer.
I used to be a Night Crawler:
one of those people
in the dark,
Now, I nearly run them down,
barely able to see them
skittering across the street,
in dark clothing,
with only the dancing light
of their sneakers
visible in my headlights—
if I’m lucky—
as I drive across town
on a Sunday night.
I wonder where they could
possibly be going
at this hour—nearly midnight!
At the corner of North and Fulton,
on the unlit side of the street,
I spot a lone woman
walking her dog.
On my side of the street,
a corner lit garishly bright
by a large, portable rectangular
spotlight on the sidewalk,
and, a few feet away,
by a neon-blue police light
flashing atop the streetlamp,
a gaggle of male nightcrawlers
hangs outside The Oxford Tavern,
an improbably British-style building
in the heart of Sandtown,
View original post 537 more words
We’ve lived in these bodies so long.
Don’t think about their diminished condition,
the damage gravity has done,
don’t worry if our legs feel papery.
I like the way they intertwine
on the old blue sheets.
Forget that your beard’s now flecked with white,
that what once seemed merely sun lines
are crow’s feet etched in deep symmetry on my face.
Ignore the muscle cramps that interrupt our play.
Your eyes are the dark eyes
That saw me that first night.
Your right hand is the same one
that brushed against me. You leaned over to
open the car door for me,
spilling me out onto the sidewalk.
I slid out, muttered thanks, goodnight—
Turned at the front steps, perplexed,
went home when I should have turned back to you.
Originally published on March 10, 2017 in the online ‘zine, Work to A Calm
I thank those of you who have already purchased Baltimore Girls for your support–especially if you pre-ordered from Finishing Line Press.
If you pre-ordered but have not yet received your book, contact me immediately and I will see that another copy is mailed to you within one business day!
I’m collecting photos of my readers holding up the book, for a checkerboard poster I am assembling. If you’d like to be in the poster along with the 23 readers who’ve already sent me their photos, please send your photo along, as a posting to my Facebook page (Lynne Spigelmire Viti) or by email. It’s time for your 15 minutes of fame!
And-your turn to write something– a review of Baltimore Girls on amazon.com. Go to the amazon listing for the book, and scroll down to the bottom where you see Write a Review. Then write!
If you did not pre-order Baltimore Girls, I have 100 copies of BG in my home office that i would love to unload. Proceeds from sales of these copies, which I received from Finishing Line in lieu of royalties, will be divided equally between the scholarship fund at my alma mater, Mercy High of Baltimore, MD, and Epiphany School, Boston, a private, tuition-free middle school for Boston youth. Both are strongly faith-based schools that emphasize academics and character development. Both schools need financial support.
The cost of the book is $13.99. I will take care of postage costs if you live in the U.S. If you’d like to round up and give even more to Mercy High and Epiphany, I’ll be delighted.
You can email me at my school address, email@example.com, leave a comment here with your contact info (I won’t publish the comment ) or send me a tweet @Lynne Viti.
Right muscle, right work.
Contract, release, exactly.
Breath and work are one.
Tense for use, relax the rest.
I stretch, I breathe. I open.
dancing in the rain
minutes precious ticking clock
till we meet again
it is said love conquers all
without it I am nothing.
By Nancy Ruth Levine