danmurano.com

Photography, literature, pop culture and creature comforts
Poems by Grace Cavalieri

WHAT I WON

The sack dress was in style then
          with a single strand of pearls.
The sack dress was designed to see
          the body move lightly beneath.
That's why I wore it to my first poetry
          contest in Philly,
leaving my four-month old at home.
          Of course my husband had to
drive, as nervous as I was
          so he waited in the car all
day while I sat in the big room, first time out
          since I found my mother
dead and then had a baby two weeks later.
          My husband stayed all day in that
car in the snow. I won first prize about
          wanting my mother but
It was said much better than this,
          as you can imagine, to win first.
It even began with notes upon a phantom
          lute, although The Poet
said what do we know of lutes now?
          But what did he know of
walking into her bedroom and finding
          her a pale shade of lilac.
That just goes to prove I guess I was talking
          about the wrong thing in the poem,
and The Poet was surely on to something.
          I have to say I looked wonderful,
gaunt with grief and colitis, 1956,
          hurrying across the street
where my husband was waiting to take me home,
          the first wrong victory in my hand.

 

Sounds Like Something I Would Say
2010
 

“Mama Didn’t Allow No Blues Or Jazz…”

Lorne Cress

The monkey trap is simply this
A coconut hollowed out
A sweet potato stuck inside
 
This is how a monkey can be caught
He puts his paw inside
And grabs his food
 
You say it’s dumb
Determined as hunger
Caught inside a shell like that
 
You say betrayal comes from just
Such needs as a monkey has
 
We do not know the source of sanity
How monkeys feel about hunger
 
But I think it’s better when holding on
From not letting go
I think it’s better to let go.
 

Alternate Theories

In answering my husband I say, “I only
wonder about ideas I can use in

poetry.” He says this is may be a waste
of wonder. Yes, I realize it is not a fair

market exchange, rationing my thoughts
this way. Here we are walking

in the woods - noticing fern. He says
he can make green herbs grow all

winter long in the kitchen -
the white receptacle by the window

the constancy of a blue
Glo-light - the waters of life dripped

in every day with care.
I say I like this. it’s  lighted

up until morning. Like the moon.
Finally something I can use,

helpful  to me - while writing in the dark -
as nothing can be seen exactly as we describe it.

Awards Day

She always wanted to make love to a clock so she’d know when to stop.
She always wanted to be standing in the limelight in a white satin dress,
no, make that a strapless dress. Now she was older and, no, make that
one with sleeves. She wanted to be a cat hiding in a tree to catch a bird.

(acknowledgment: Poets&Artists, 2012)

ATLANTIS

Atlantis

For Bryan Christopher
 
Awakened by daily light,
I moved through a map of sounds
into the fold of the future.
There
in the periphery of
friendship was a man standing in
light between the trees.
How does he enter my story,
his hand on my shoulder,
walking beside me
all these years,
making art so we cannot
be destroyed by its opposite.
I move in the periphery
of his friendship into the
folding light.
The spectrum of colors
carried in his pocket
are horizons that say
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF,
words I did not know before,
leading me by the hand.
 

Big Mama Thornton

Last time I saw her
she wasn’t so big. Actually
she was downright skinny,
singing the final time
in Washington, D.C.
 
Backstage she drank a
quart of milk
mixed equal parts with
gin—
Seagrams, she told me.
 
Then she got the idea.
Could I contact the Seagrams
people and then she could
advertise for them and
they’d like her for
drinking a full quart a day—their gin.
 
I said no, I didn’t
think so, and I didn’t
think the milk people
would like the commercial so much
either. She still felt bad
about Elvis stealing “Hound Dog,
The way he did, even though
she was much too much of a lady to say so.
Once she talked about it, long ago,
before she started milk with gin.
 
I guess the drink left a
sweet taste in her mouth.
 
-- Grace Cavalieri
Acknowledgement: Cuffed Frays, Argonne House Press
 

Pages