Double the Consonant, Shorten the Vowel
That’s what comes from majority rule:
the T’s stretching their crossbeams further
across better, G’s claiming they’re bigger,
L‘s lazily lounging with their political pull,
P‘s too dippy with twin happiness to notice
their former association with pain and poverty.
O O‘s and silent A‘s,
diminutive i’s, E‘s eager to please and acquiesce,
and, of course, the once ubiquitous U,
whoop, roar, hoot, scream, screech
above the clamor of consonants
already claiming house control of hubbub,
There Is a Rat in the Middle of Separate
not just his teeth, as pointed as before-test pencils,
but his entire seamy body gleams
with lasciviousness and longing for the lost
spelling bee, its airborne script
intercepted by the evolved, phonically
abused, and chomping pterodactyl,
who took the tiny sting like a man
sucking on sore taste buds,
and flew off to a museum to sulk.
The rat’s tail snaps out like nun-chucks,
reels in the red meat of the rational,
the tough but tenuous topic sentences tied together
just-so with brown-paper and transitions,
but no address,
“Undeliverable” stamped across the letters
before they’re tossed.
In this garbage can of sound and lost vowels,
there must be, the rat sneers,
bones worth chewing, homonyms half-digested,
picked over and passed on
by Spelling Checkers. And he digs deeper
into the pile of mismatched prefixes,
misspelled bannanna peals; he digs deeper
into the tunnels of proclaimed typos; he digs deeper
sniffing, sniffing, sniffing,
day-dreaming always of Limburger
I Take My Coffee with Two E’s
two F‘s and no artificial sweetener;
my sherbet, please (so low-fat), with an extra r;
my filet mignon with its g and n
Ah vichyssoise à la Ritz,
bouillabaisse, asparagus vinaigrette,
salmon dipped and smoked;
Ah, Grand Marnier soufflés,
peppermint-chocolate mousse, why wait
for the weight of words
to ingest each letter
by letter? Such sweet
seasoning to the palate,
basted sound and roasted syllable.
Ah, Messieurs et Madames,
the delicacy, the delight,
the culinary delectableness of language
skillfully marinated, prepared,
and presented by that master
A Double Helping of S, Please
Yes, I’ll take another s in my dessert,
another slice of strudel,
an extra sampling of strawberry shortcake,
a smidgen more of spritz, twin pecan tassies,
double cheesecake snack squares.
No thank you, please, not a single desert,
that dusty Sahara sandbox
where I crave scores of sibilations
to satisfy this persistent thirst
for all that’s sweet and sugary.
Earth Day: 2020
Hell, yes, open the window
and reel in some sanitized breeze,
and Hey-Can-You-Feel-the Sea
(with each properly scrubbed toe)
but please don’t.
cough or sneeze your unhealthy
memories of bliss or shimmy up
too close to any trees six feet apart
and frost-bitten at their blooms
from last week’s blizzard.
Or don’t patriotically salute or
mourn Ma Nature’s
50th year celebration of today’s
Call to Action brought to you
in living color from the living room.
No, nothing’s dead yet except
excuses to not deep-clean
such continued devastation. Until then,
let Her breathe.
Then There’s That
A hand, a slap, a fist.
The morning dew, the question
“Who is the stranger with such fragile fingers
straightening today the ironed collar of your shirt?”
The bruise pooling beneath skin,
the skin taut across belly,
the faint heartbeat beneath
the scuttle of punctuated No’s.
And the exclamations of joy,
the em-dash of hope,
the comma of sigh typed expertly
at 120 words a minute
into the narrative of hand
protecting the other.
And the first glance and the last
blow, and the morning and the evening
of the broken bones, and the stitched-together
hellos and the swollen goodbyes, and the repeat
ritual bend, mend, pretend, upend, transcend, descend…
And then there’s that.
Professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry, the story collection What She Was Saying; 4 children’s/YA books, Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, and Presence (assistant editor). Begin with a Question and Heart Speaks Is Spoken For are forthcoming in 2021/22. www.marjoriemaddox.com Marjorie was first featured in The Short of it on September 4, 2020. She also had three pieces featured in The Sound of Brilliance.
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