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Poems by Grace Cavalieri

“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.
 

Morning Poem

Each of us has a pond. Mine is deep. I sleep beneath
the water in a silence so clear
the bloom of desire melts from me,
lightning turns fire to the water of pleasure.
 
Fish are jumping in my heart,
no, they are real fish dreaming of me,
no it is not a dream,
this is a real heart.
 

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
 

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)

What Was Waiting

From miles across the sprawling ocean,
from the trance of childhood,
my father came to this country
into a stale air of daylight
and broken promise.
Surely all things new were an invasion to bear, the
space between him and others papered over with politeness.
Certainly this must have seemed a bland world of cement
compared to his remembrance of
Nightingales at dusk above the deep green hedges
beyond the orchard, the fragrance of harvest
measured against the trickery of this new world.
What could he covet here?
Perhaps all the stories he’d never tell, maybe because
they were not good enough.
But as I tinker with these handful of words
I create a kind of miracle, a page of his own, where he enters
alive again, more fulfilled than he was, finally loved,
center stage, the star of this poem I am finishing for him.
 

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.

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