Writing

A Few Uses for It When It’s Done

Letters can line the catbox, or (catless?) compost—
where every last promise shape-shifts to useful mush.

Miniature painting from Iran – couldn’t its inlaid frame hold
up the leg of that abandoned coffee table? Make a snow-dome

for your desk, shake it up now and then to watch snowflakes
settle at the base. there are statues on Major’s Hill: stick your

loss next to Laurier, then leave it alone. Robins returning
to the March melt will ring this stone sentinel with their leavings.

Aren’t you done looking for Reason in the park? by now
you’ll have rubbed off tarnish: set your toy idol in the window

so the next one passing can see how it shines, this intermittent
trinket, tchotchke of tossed and lost Scrabble tiles.

Write it off, that boy you used to know, used to love, used to
pardon my Biblical reference. This is the art of lost and found.

 

— Rhonda Douglas, How to Love a Lonely Man

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How to Love a Lonely Man

Take it as imperative, the must assumed.
Email often, every evening, even after
just to say hey, or be forsaken. Surely there are instructions.
Take notes on cue cards – now cut and cue to you in the Yaris
driving yourself home to East Coker again. Shift
into manual, stroke and soothe with lotion, don’t
linger, know how to want but to have or to hold—
cuddle, coddle, nuzzle, nudge…Nope. Stroke
the greying temples of the head on your lap, don’t say
Christmas, don’t imply there are weeks to come. Love leaps to lonely
so quickly, late-night reading locked in your lovely condo,
books in the bed, along in the glow. Oh man, mad men are
in fashion and we, we are the hollow men, hollowed out, inviting no one in.

 

— Rhonda Douglas, How to Love a Lonely Man

 

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A Few Last Regrets

Wish not everything had to be
so goddamn true, all the time.
Wish for an open space for a lie,
a gap in the teeth of my unlocked
mouth. Wish feminism hadn’t
given up on itself, eaten its young,
sent the rest of us out on the parapets
to fend for ourselves. Wish I’d taken
up drinking, slept with more men. Even
now, wish for more of them: a collection
of marbles in a drawer. Wish crazy was
a badge of courage, the mind a playground
for more than just me. Wish I’d hired
that PR firm. Wish I hadn’t said so much,
wish Helen were free. Wish I’d not given up
on the gods so soon, that belief was rooted
everywhere, soil. Wish truth was beauty,
beauty something like truth. Wish
I could take it all back and still live.

 

—Rhonda Douglas, Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems

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Water Will Leave You, Like a Lover (Third Prophesy)

Glacial irritations from centuries of living together:
the way you let the tap run
while brushing your teeth,
indiscreet toss of a tuna can, flushed tampon.
All these could be forgiven –
is it a necessity that love dries up?

You will rage, remember old wounds,
typhoon affairs, monsoons of grief,
the betrayal of being so lightly held,
the daily brutality of always wanting more.

At the end, even the trees will take sides,
the earth crack, the few drops left shed
in tears. But you. You will have
your clear plastic memories rolling
across the unending beach.

 

—Rhonda Douglas, Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems

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The Resignation of Trees (Second Prophesy)

First, the maple trees refuse to cooperate.
They withhold seed keys and sap,
a protest action against sour air,
bitter rain. The oldest have emphysema,
their clogged lungs collapse
against a push of wind. The newly planted
suffer the ache of growth, a stretching of limits.
Don’t you think they wonder what’s the point?
Must everything have a purpose? Yet it does;
an ecosystem draws meaning from decay.
But when rain eats through the leafy crown
of each tree and maple syrup is no longer
sweet, what strength it takes to offer tender
shoots against the bitter acid of time,
without thought of future consequence.
Even an oak is not that strong.

 

—Rhonda Douglas, Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems

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