July 29 – August 4, 2019: Poetry from Diane Elayne Dees and Kate Falvey

Diane Elayne Dees and Kate Falvey

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Diane Elayne Dees

Bio (auto)

Diane Elayne Dees’s poetry has been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world. Her chapbook, I Can’t Recall Exactly When I Died, is forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House. Visit Diane on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2019, and owned by Diane Elayne Dees and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Chemistry of Bloom

In the summer of magic, the ground glowed.
My lover woke me in the middle of the night
to see the spectacle of night-blooming cereus—
dozens of them open, ghostly white,
like giant blossoms dropped from the moon.
Decades later, I would have my own
lunar blossoms, though never as many
as I saw that summer night. The pendulous
buds all opened at the same time, releasing
their other-worldly perfume into a night
already heavy with humidity and chanting
bullfrogs. Some nights, I would forget
to go out, and would spend the next morning
staring at spent blooms that dangled
from limp stems. Lost opportunity left me
filled with anger and regret. Eventually,
my plants died, my dreams of enduring love died,
my will to garden died. Now I look at pictures
of the luminous, alabaster cactus. I imagine
the heady fragrance, and I recall that night—
in the summer of magic—when I slept soundly,
awakened easily, and marveled at the possibilities
that exist when the ground glows beneath our feet.


Kate Falvey

Bio (auto)

Kate Falvey’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Plume, Little Patuxent Review, YellowMedicine Review, and the Stony Thursday Book. She’s published one full length collection of poems, The Language of Little Girls (David Robert Books) and two chapbooks. She edits the 2 Bridges Review, published through City Tech/CUNY, where she teaches and serves as an associate editor for NYU Langone Medical Center’s Bellevue Literary Review.

The following work is Copyright © 2019, and owned by Kate Falvey and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Line

When the brackets – left bottom corner,
right top – filed plastically down the line, I dipped
swiftly into the glue pot and plugged
my brackets home.
No wiggle room permitted, I fixed
the cork boards in the tray.
A glut of Dudley Do-Rights.
Eight hours. Every day.

Down the line, she,
bleached hair stiff with silence, she
with scrawny breakneck reach,
was charged with right bottom corner,
left top. She trained us to exceed
the quota, to gain a preternatural speed
by tapping brackets to a beat,
to never miss a mark by dreaming on the line.

She – this Midge or Marge, Lou Ann, Loreen –
had final say and wiped the drips of errant glue away
as if precision counted. As if corkboards
ruled the world. She’d rake
her glaucous no-chance eyes
over the bush league summer help
and suck her smoker’s tongue
like her mouth was slick with glue.

She’d show us what do, her words in check,
reserved for breaks with Belva, Jan, or Lyn,
her cronies in-the- know who worked the line
or stamped the cork with highly skilled
machines or even – times were changing – cut
the cork to spec. But this was rare.
Cutting went to men. As did the packing,
lifting, trucking, upper management.

Even then I knew
she hated me and Terry
passing through,
and our airy college giggles
and our nerve
for being young,
for not sticking to our place,
for swerving out of line,
while she,
the stickler boss
of cork board brackets,
would plant her swollen feet
until she fell
ensuring slabs
of cartoon printed cork
were cleanly planted
in their umber colored trays.
She’d never get away
until they closed the plant.
(which they did in ’83)
Or the cancer got her.
She didn’t start out mean,
we figured when we chose
to speculate.
Just lost her dreams,
her consciousness. Her fight.
Then it all became too much
and much
too late.

After each shift, my hands were scabbed
with glue – a carapace of honey red
I’d pick off through the night
and when my eyes were closed, I’d see
waves of visionary brackets filing forth
like the after image of the ebb and flow of surf
after a bland and careless day
on a ceaseless sandy beach.

We saved our paychecks,
then we split.
The next vacation we did stints
at the plastics factory in the town
where Terry lived.
I sealed plastic inserts for leather wallets
with a treadle press, and jotted moody
poems on filched cardboard on the sly.

The lady line boss had a twitchy eye
and bloated teased up hair,
the same regard for snipping plastic
with efficient picky care
as the cork boss lady did for neatly gluing brackets.
Terry and I shared jokes but were never unaware
that we were interlopers, temporary workers
and lucky to be leaving — free to leave.

Geri, Joan, Dotty, Marge, Marie –
I saw then – but with a young girl’s sinews,
restlessness, unwitting condescension.
My aging bones now hum with memories
of how you stood for fifteen, twenty years
fending off imagined sneers of anyone with plenty.
Anyone with thoughts beyond a line you couldn’t cross.
I see now that you have always been my boss.


First published in: Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump’s America,
edited by Maria Isabel Alvarez and Dante Di Stefano, NYQ Books, 2017



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