poetry

Rochelle Hope Mehr

 Winter 2001


Poetry and Survival

"Sin is whatever obscures the soul"
                                                               André Gide (La Symphonie Pastorale)

Stricken

It all comes down to pain, this freakish pain
Shooting through my calves and feet.
I minister the medicament to myself.
I increase my thyroxine.
(My hypothyroid absolution.)

There must be a cataract of relief
Beyond this wall of nails
Into which I have been stricken.

I don't care if the deluge strikes me
Blind.
I just need relief, a balm to ease
This pins and needles pain,
This numbness that has no name,
This prelude to death.


A Plea for Tolerance

There is something about me that puts people off
That makes them acutely uncomfortable --
I don't know how to hide
I don't know how to hide
I'm too much myself

People condescend to try to help
To try to fix my infirmity --
They don't know how to help
They don't know how to help
To unglue me from myself

I've taken the bait
I've eaten the cheese
The mouse trap contains me
I don't want to flee --

Let me be

The Power of Naught

I face the white space
With the lines locked in place --
Tensile wire set to pluck
The choicest morsel from my heart
As I hurl myself against the fence
Of impenetrableness.

Now you are the foe
The mirror I would set to smash --
If not to smash at least to rend
Apart my private parts
And reconfigure in more pleasing
Form.

I throw myself
Under the wheel of this juggernaut --
Risking all
Gaining naught.


The Spirit of Ulysses

No, we do not die.
We get sick, we get weak --
Too weak to hone our skills
With cutting-edge precision --
We seek out some measure of perfection --
Some increment of honor --
Is it honesty
Is it pride
That swirls the seas --
That will not appease --

At this breakneck pace
Wild with wind
Rhythm and froth --
There is no stopping for death


Looking and Doing

There are two kinds of people:
the people looking and the people doing.

The people doing are always looking
suspiciously at the people looking.

The people looking lick their wounds
and climb the closest tree.

I've wound myself tightly
around many maypoles.

I've tried to spring into action,
to leap into being.

But I always end up
relearning the same lesson:

Your place is here --
Don't budge.


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