Marjorie Maddox

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
commotion, applause

There Is a Rat in the Middle of Separat

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 
accurately spelled. 

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 
tenderly underdone. 

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  
Webster.   

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,  
some O-Say-Can-You-See-the-Sky 
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.  
                                 There’s that. 

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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15 thoughts on “Marjorie Maddox

  1. Thank you Susi for sharing Marjorie’s work.
    Amazing use of language, words to speak to, and of themselves. Sublime.
    I like the lines…
    “for the weight of words 
    to ingest each letter 
    by letter?”
    Lots to ponder here.

    Liked by 1 person

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