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River Poets Journal
Based in New Jersey
A Journal of Poetry/Prose
Art & Photography
Sampling of Poetry and Art from River Poets Journal Special Edition
Tales from the Matriarchal Zone
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On that page click on "Tales From the Matriarchal Zone" pdf file
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Poems by River Poets Journal Contributors
All future rights to material published on this web site are retained
by the individual Authors and Artists/Photographers
Music by Sandy Bender
This page was last updated: June 8, 2013
We believed we could just take off
and land in womanhood, skipping
like a needle on a 45 to the best part of the song.
Lingering in our room in the mornings,
we plotted ways to mimic
Mother’s most mysterious arts –
The painted, arched brows,
the burgundy lips that left their feathery print
on the paper of her cigarette,
the magenta of her nails filed to blunt arrows.
We begged Aunt Jane, an Avon lady,
for rosy buds of lipstick samples, for waxy
sticks of Hawaiian White Ginger to coat our wrists,
and even took sooty nubs of No. 2 pencils to our eyes.
Our garishness masked the gifts
we already carried but could not see:
Mother’s angular bones resting in the dove of my cheek,
her buoyancy in your sienna hair flipped to a wing.
We aimed to melt into her one day, like the red
Crayons we fed through the Easy Bake Oven,
our fingers braving a blistering dip in the cake pan
to make us some nails like Mama’s.
©Libby Swope Wiersema
Grandma dressed catfish,
that’s how she said it.
Her large calloused hands gripped
pliers and the head
and pulled hard in opposite directions
until the skin grudgingly yielded
to her strength.
Then she grabbed her butcher knife,
the one she used to dress chickens,
that’s how she said it,
and slit the belly
and circumspectly fingered out entrails
under a running spigot
before she finally chopped off the head.
Those virile death-hands holding
firm the soft slippery victims,
those same hands that touched
my fevered forehead,
patted my sunburned shoulders.
The Dancing Dress
Looking out the window
as dawn comes up
like steam from hot coffee,
I watch long willow branches
wave in morning light.
Reminds me of gramma’s
favorite dancing dress.
I found it years ago
tissued in her cedar chest.
She takes me by the hand---
we sit on black velvet
carpet fringed with stars,
waiting for moon rise
and I listen to stories--
how the long fringe waved
like willow branches
as she danced, beguiling
all the men, and grandpa,
And the moon high
on the sky ceiling,
became a mirrored ball,
lighting up her face,
and I watched her dance
to the music.
My coffee is cold.
I smile watching the breeze
play music through the willows
and I dance in her dress
and sway with the fringe.
©Margaret Ellis Hill
Garden Path with Chickens - Gustav Klimt
The Dancer - Gustav Klimt
Flower Vase in Window - Paul Gauguin
In nausea in a hung-over bed,
in stacks of books as yet unread,
in reverie of morning’s dreams,
in contemplation of future dread,
in reams of film I’ve still not seen,
indifferent to the tasks ahead, I’m
inconsequential with an aching head.
In an estate sale three years late,
in boxes I can’t bear to pack,
in furniture I cannot move,
in a house that can’t be sold,
in a sister’s gentle scolds,
I lie in bed, hid in the folds;
and, you know,
we argued constantly,
and were never really close
until the end.
We were far too much alike;
her half of me has now flown.
She is a cloud of flies:
her voice heard pleading,
flattened through wires—still
no distance; needle words
disguised; yes, mother,
the furtive way you send me
to a cliff.
Lady With a Fan - Gustav Klimt
Beethoven Frieze- Gustav Glimt
Death and Life- Gustav Klimt