Monday, April 15, 2013


…Yesterday, I finished reading Jeanann Verlee’s, “Racing Hummingbirds”.
What a terrific collection.
It’s part poetry, part prose, altogether wonderful, unsettling and arresting.
If you think you’re a person who doesn’t fancy poetry, you should try this book. 
You’ll be glad you did.  I promise.
Here are two sample pieces:


78           -   the number of cows slaughtered every minute in the U.S.
100        -   my score on every spelling test I’ve ever taken
4             -   the number of wedding rings my mother has pawned
16,200   -   the amount of money I’ve had to borrow from my father to pay your debt
113        -   my weight when I met you
245        -   your weight when you first purged a dinner
97           -   the number of times you told me I was fat
24           -   the number of beers you drank each day
136        -  my weight when you stopped touching me
135        -  the weight of your emaciated six-soot frame today
17           -  the number of times you refused to get help
21           -  the number of days since our divorce
76           -   the number of cows slaughtered since the beginning of this poem


Learn how to say “no.”

Cram that word inside your mouth,
the whole thing, make sure all of it
gets in there.  Let it walk on your tongue.
Practice with it in the mirror, push it
out, make faces, learn to love the salt
and bitter of it.  Teach it to perch on your lip,
buzz, collect pollen from your sugary gloss.
make it swarm between your cheeks.

Then, when the days come (there will be
many) where he pushes too hard, speaks
too sweetly, when the hand at your thigh
draws a thump in your stomach, when
the bitch gremlin inside whispers, it’s not
worth the fight, says you can barter
for your worth tomorrow, when your ribs
shrink, when he unfurls his Almighty Smile,
when  four come at you at once, when
you love someone else, when the bar
is closing and your name becomes Take
What I Can Get, when the girls hate you
anyway, when you want him until the burn
if only he wore a different face—

pull back your lips, bare the teeth you have
sharpened to their perfect points, flick
your stinger tongue, set free your swarms.

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