POEMS BY  Michael Graves
A Mother’s Plight


                                     How did I come to be caught

                                     In this place                          

                                     With eyes full of fury

                                     That stare, strike, and blink?          

                                     I was the youngest daughter

                                     Of peasants who fled,

                                     Impoverished, devoted to Mary,                      

                                     The mountains near Naples,

                                     To seek a new life

                                     In a welcoming land.


                                     In this therapist’s office,

                                     I am hammered and battered,                           

                                     Unable to block the blows

                                     My husband and son

                                     Aim at each other.

                                     At night, I dream

                                     I study a mirror

                                     That turns to a shield            

                                     Etched with my face,

                                     Its hair a nest of terrible snakes.



A Mother Lies Awake


                                   The face of the blue-white full moon is pocked. His face

                                  Burns between the collar of his P-coat and woolen watch cap.


                                    He stumbles wildly like a tanker with combustible chemicals,

                                    Lurching along an icy highway.


                                    The stop lights are red, doubling,

                                    Tripling, approaching, receding.


                                    Cars are coming too quickly

                                    And curving past.


                                    Casting red and blue on the dark apartment house,

                                    Silent, a patrol car hurries.


                                    The wind whips away the matches he strikes.

                                    The church is dark.


                                    I am afraid he will fall asleep with a cigarette

                                    Dangling from his hand,


                                    Or disturb our sleep

                                    With voice and fist.




  A Mocker


                                    That weapon

                                    your laughter

                                    that peals

                                    like a bell,

                                    that hammers,



                                    clearing a space

                                    around your tall form,

                                    thin as a mage’s--

                                    your’s is the force of a wind

                                    that sweeps all away.

                                    It rings out its triumph,

                                    derisive, a cackle,

                                    delighted with self.

                                    You, in your power,

                                    privilege and wit,

                                    pleased with your wealth.



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