MJ blathers

dark poet who loves to laugh


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Kelley’s Island

I am from sliding down the Glacial Grooves (now fenced)
I am from stepping on someone’s broken bottle half-buriedin the sand
of Sandy Beach, my sister Carolyn burying my trail of blood as
Mom carried me to the car; the doctor in the trailer near the ferry dock
stitching up my gaping foot
I am from Caroly carrying me on her back through the field of poison ivy
because she was not allergic (she was)
I am from the concrete steps down to the boat landing at the mansion
on the far side of the island; Grandma Page fell down, hollering
“Char-ruls” all the way; Grandma depended on my daddy, too
I am from Mom’s brothers, on leave from Army and Marines, on the barrel-raft
out in Lake Erie, yelling and waving to warn Uncle Bud in Navy whites
not to set foot on the slime-coated rock shelf that played at being beach
in front of our rented cottage
Bud’s legs ran many miles before they went out from beneath him
and he slid on his behind into the water
I am from campfires among the rocks on starry nights
singing to the mosquitos
and the goo of som’ores
as the sparks flew upward

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between summer and fall

mellowing, softening
its hard edges of
intense, direct sunlight
colors richer, warmer
even in the cooler air
no longer bleached out
but summer glare
seem glowing from within
rather than stabbing with
reflected brilliance
of an overwhelming sol
reds and oranges burnished
no long too-bright
yellows and whites
i can open my eyes
lower a protective hand
peer now, rather than squint
see, rather than
seek shade
autumn allows me
to stand, to bend, to move
about in my world
no longer needing
to hide in shadows
from a truth
i cannot face


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Uncle Bob

Bob had a smile
that made friends of passers-by
A huge part of the joy
of my childhood
he, and his slightly
older brother Bill
taught me and my sister
Carolyn to swim by tossing us
off the barrel raft
into Lake Eire
and poling away as we
doggy-paddled back
but they knew – and snatched
us up out of the water –
when the game was done
poled us back to Kelly
Island shore and taught us
to make golden melted s’mores
over the rocky beach night fire
Himself snatched from high school
into WWII and out of college into
the Korean War, Bob taught me
patience and loving-kindness
despite personal tragedy
that has sustained me
time and again, but
i’ve never quite learned
to smile just like
Bob


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not a hot-weather gal

(a pantoum)

i dread the heat coming
spring is too short
growing green fades to dry brown
skin glistens with sweat

spring is too short
eyes squint, trying to see distance
skin glistens with sweat
long for a cool drink

eyes squint, trying to see distance
growing green fades to dry brown
longing for a cool drink
i dread the heat coming