This week’s poems are, at least tenuously, related to leisure. What do we do when we go out? We eat curry (Vivien Jones). We go on the randan if we are American miners (Gary Beck), pulling humour and nonsense out of our situation in the hope of postponing the dangers and harshness of hinterland working life. Emily Leider’s Couple rather superficially flirt and pose in respect of one another. And OK we read (or watch) science fiction which takes us out of ourselves, as in Sarah L Dixon’s fantasy poem.
Possibly a better option, this imagination business, though we must eat and meet too in our various quests.
All part of the human drama that never leaves us be.
Thanks to all these poets, and please send poems, in multiples if you like. Come on, these are poems that have been published already some years back. Email them to me at sally evans 35 at gmail dot com and give them the chance of an outing where who knows, probably they will find new friends.
My History of Curry
First time,Vesta in a box,
that only Daddy ate.
Two bags, rice and sauce,
rolling in boiling water.
(But rice is for pudding!)
We watched, sniffing.
Once, in the dark kitchen,
I licked his cold plate.
First love, first date,
dinner in the evening
at the new Indian place.
He chose from the mysteries
on the menu, nothing hot.
Then sex, with spices still
haunting the mouth.
New bride, new recipe book,
Shelves full of curry powders,
Sultanas, apple, boiled eggs,
A misfire of flavours.
Two newly married couples,
entertaining in convivial ignorance.
courtesy of Schwartz, Pataks,
Today, my curry contains
lemon grass and root ginger,
fresh chillies and minted raita.
Puffed up, charred fresh nans,
lean back to back cooling.
Though the house is aromatic,
in a moment of doubt, I recall
the shock of Daddy’s cold Vesta.
from About Time, Too Indigo Dreams 2010
Miner’s Quest (To Don Petersen)
And the miners came down from the hills
only once a month, to eat, drink, fight,
if they were lucky,
spend the night with a woman,
instead of in jail.
For sheriff Bennett met them at the edge of town
and gave them the same warning each time:
‘Have a good time, boys, but don’t wreck the town.’
And the miners nodded sincerely,
chorused, ‘Sure, sheriff. You bet. We promise.’
But the sheriff was used to their rough ways
and knew they were there to escape the pressures
that gripped them in the bowels of the earth.
And they weren’t bad men, just childlike,
toiling like slaves of eld, then seeking release.
They meant their promises and meant no harm.
Nevertheless, the sheriff hired extra deputies
on the day the miners came to town
for their monthly binge.
Now the miners respected the sheriff,
who understood their need to blow off steam,
but the deputies were another kind of cop.
Mostly young, scared, acting tough to impress the hard men
who only feared Mother Earth’s crushing embrace
waiting to hold them close, far beneath the surface.
And they mocked the posing deputies
who wore one-way sun glasses to hide the uncertainty
that made the miners mistrust them.
There was one deputy the miners really hated.
Reardon, a big-bellied bully, meaner than the rattlesnakes
that sometimes tumbled down the mineshaft
and couldn’t find their way to the surface again
and shared the dark confines with their fellow prisoners
and sometimes got lucky and bit someone,
before the miners could stomp them to death.
The only thing the miners hated more than rattlers
were the bosses, whose venom flowed from far away.
Reardon always greeted them the same way,
slapping his club in his bulbous paw, scaring no one,
but alert for the chance to hurt the miners.
They despised him, staring through him,
another dangerous clod of earth to be avoided ,
but never feared, because he only trapped the unwary,
and if you labored deep below the ravaged earth
you learned to be wary, or didn’t survive
the hungry pits that always beckoned.
So the miners rushed to their favorite bars,
where bored trailer girls served the drinks
and didn’t really care that a lot of hands
did a lot of exploring of their veined bodies.
And they listened to the usual comments:
‘That’s a number one shaft. Deep hole. Dig that strata.’
And the girls snapped their gum in boredom,
for they took worse abuse than words
from the harsh hands of their redneck boyfriends.
The retired professor of something or other
met them at ‘Purple Nell’s’ and bought them drinks,
preached to them that they should spare the earth.
They laughed kindly at him and explained it was their job,
if they didn’t do it, the company would hire others
eager to take their place in the mines, because
someone was always waiting to steal a man’s job.
But they never insulted the professor
while drinking his liquor.
The miners never went to ivy covered schools,
had no book learning, just blue collar skill,
acquired the hard way, in the pits of shattered dreams,
where the mines sapped the souls of men
who never got used to the pressing rock above
and the dank, devouring dark below,
always waiting, implacable as time,
to catch a careless miner in a moment’s lapse,
the last summons to the final ascent.
From the collection Civilized Ways. first published 2007 Eleventh Transmission
She makes herself up for him
makes new her skin
buffs nails, washes hair so it squeaks
views sadly clogged pores
In a mirror that magnifies flaws.
Groan, she combs, brushes, clips
ponders shades of lip gloss
finds herself in a Tawny Peach mood
Is she ready yet, ready yet, ready?
As ready as she’ll ever be.
And he and he and he
shirt open in planned disarray
takes note that she’s looking OK
and moves on to what counts
to the question that makes love swim or sink
“Honey-pie, Sugar, Sweetie
(his uncertain eyes lost in hers, Maybellined)
how much do you feel
what is it you think
First published in the collection Rapid Eye Movement & Other Poems, Bay Books, in San Francisco.
Sarah L Dixon
If you catch anything with seven legs
only eat the red ones.
The purple ones like to be rocked to sleep
with a lullaby.
Don’t mention gravity.
Wear your moonboots at all times.
Don’t lick the floor, it tastes of gunpowder.
If it looks like a satsuma, it will bite.
If a meteor comes, run around to the light side.
Don’t mention gravity.
Don’t undress where the world can see you.
The world can see you.
Only wear grey.
Dressing like the earth is right out.
Hopscotch is strictly prohibited.
A curfew operates on each third crescent moon.
Don’t mention gravity.
The currency is moondust.
You can’t bag it up
there is nothing to buy
and no bridge club.
Frizbees won’t come back.
Ball games are forbidden
(especially if you are going to ask for your ball back)
Reconstituted food all tastes like carrot and coriander soup.
Replacing someone’s moonboots
with papier mache replicas is funny every time.
As long as the owner is not your pilot.
Moon Rules was awarded First place in the Many Hands Cafe Competition for poems on the theme Community in 2011.