GARRETT, NOLA

NEUTRAL GROUND

I praise the wisdom of Switzerland.

I praise third wires, sewers, landfills—
those engineered discharges—carrying
our clutter back to the tender earth.

I praise The Society for the Prevention
of Blindness Thrift Shop. How else dispose
of things we can no longer bear,
though too dear to throw away?

I praise college dorms, hospitals,
city parks, safe deposit boxes
holding divorce decrees—
those places for lingering ‘til our next turn.

I praise, however narrow, demilitarized
zones, boulevards, empty seats between
the aisle and the window: fallow fields
dreaming of wild flowers.

PARAPHRASIA

a disturbance in verbal output,

   a common dementia symptom, involving substitution

   of letters in a word or substitution of one word for another

Belle, my head is filled with gypsies,

     stealing the hinges off my gate,

          stealing graduate school, stealing ginger’s

               taste. No more cookies. No long glass

                    left. What’s going on in my brain?

                         Birds, I guess.


                         You know which ones I mean. Don’t guess

blackbirds again this morning. Those black gypsies

                    know everything I know—how my stains

     grow dimmer, how my gate

               swings both ways. Belle, where’s my glasses?

          I can’t find my champagne. Now, I’m all flat ginger


          ale. Belle, pass my Aricept. Put a little ginger

                         in my step. Try to keep time waiting, I guess.

               Take the smudges off my long glasses

now that the herons have returned. ‘Spose the gypsies

                         lured them back? Scattered fish parts. Scattered aim.

     Scattered Intercept. Opened my heron’s gate.


     Closed the off-switch on my seagull gate.

          Touch on, touch off, touch the baby’s ginger

                         hair. Gather your pains

                    while you may. Guess

our new granddaughter’s name. Gypsy?

               Tigna? Teagan? Belle, where’s my glasses?


               No, not those. I mean my long, black glasses,

     the ones I used to see what the hawk ate

down by the lake. Better the hawk than those gypsies,

          stealing every last morsel—ginger

                    and all—I know that. Well, maybe these days, I guess.

                         Belle, what’s happened to my grain?


                         Mind you, I used to own whole silos filled with grain.

               Now, all I know is that my glass

                    is half empty. My guesses

     are all half full. One gate

          closes. Another opens for Teagan’s ginger

hair—sea, gull, lake, pond, gypsy.

Nola Garrett is Faculty Emerita of Edinboro University of PA. She lives in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. and writes a monthly blog/essay for Autumn House Press’s coalhillreview.com. She has received a Residency at Yaddo, and Scholarships from the West Chester Poetry Conference and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Her poems, Macedonian poetry translations, and essays have appeared in ABLE MUSE, ARTS & LETTERS, CHRISTIAN CENTURY, CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE, FIELD, GEORGIA REVIEW, POET LORE, AND TAMPA REVIEW. Her first book, THE DYNAMITE MAKER’S MISTRESS, a collection of 27 variations on the sestina form was published by David Robert Books, 2009; and a 2nd edition will be published this fall by Mayapple Press. Her most recent poetry book, THE PASTOR’S WIFE CONSIDERS PINBALL, Mayapple Press, 2013, has been reviewed by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, NewPages.com, and Christian Century.

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