October 29-November 18, 2001: Ron Mohring and Martha Clarkson

week of October 29-November 18, 2001

Ron Mohring
Martha Clarkson

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Ron Mohring

Bio (auto)

Ron Mohring moved from Houston, Texas to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (with a nightmarish 2-year stopover in Clarksville, Indiana) His poems have appeared in a bunch of journals, including Gettysburg Review, Hanging Loose, Artful Dodge, and (online) Blue Moon Review, and in the chapbook AMATEUR GRIEF (1998 Frank O’Hara Prize).

The following work is Copyright © 2001, and owned by Ron Mohring and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


After the funeral, after the families disperse,
after the first night alone, and the next,
the first year; after the first man you allow
to touch you, after the tenth, after you let
yourself use the word *love* with someone else;
after you decide to sell the house
but don’t get around to it; after you forget
the taste of his ashes and grit on your tongue
and it’s easier to say his name, read his diaries,
spend his money, sell his car, fuck
in his bed; after you’ve rolled the platitudes
into little pills and swallowed them all,
and life presents not cruelty but *experience*,
and his death has become just
another part of you you sometimes ignore,
after that, there is always
your own
first appeared in ART & UNDERSTANDING


When Christ came back
no one was prepared, not even Aunt Sally,
a hardened Baptist who had the good grace
to witness Christ sliding down a chute of light

onto her swimming pool He stepped
across, knocked politely at the kitchen door Sally’s mouth swung open She’d been snapping
beans, a bushelful she’d bought at the farmer’s

market that morning The canning jars rattled,
boiling on the stove Christ pointed to his Timex,
tapped the crystal *Je-je-just a minute*, Sally
stammered, reeling in the kitchen, switching off

the stove She yanled at her apron Should she leave
a note for Bob? *Excuse me?* Christ said, his voice
like grainy honey Sally whirled, surprised to find
her body slumped among the beans
first appeared in WEST BRANCH]


There is a house painted white There is a tree,
its trunk painted the same white There is a dog on a chain
tangled around the tree There is a yard but it is all dirt,
worn smooth by the dog and the girl The girl kneels
in the dirt, singing She is washing doll clothes in a bucket Stuck in the fence beside her are the dolls,their pink
scrubbed bodies drying Their heads poked through
the chainlink fence Hanging by their hair, little Absaloms,
little Barbies, little perfect feet She holds one doll
under the water Promise you won’t tell, she sings,
and I’ll let you go She squeezes the doll in her fist;
little bubbles leak from its neck Promise Hurry up
first appeared in PHOEBE

Into Mine

I watch the fish glide in their tank It lowers
the blood pressure, you tell me, but sometimes
I think I might throw a paperweight against
the glass, though I know I’d be sorry, it would
pain me to see them bleed, gaping on the
sodden carpet Not for that For the moment
before that, the huge collapse and rush
as they’re poured from their survivable world
from the chapbook AMATEUR GRIEF

Martha Clarkson

Bio (auto)

I design corporate headquarters and live in Kirkland, Washington, near Seattle I have a stellar family and a happy life!

I have been writing poetry since I was 16 and have been published in such journals as Seattle Review, Exhibition, and gumballpoetry.com

The following work is Copyright © 2001, and owned by Martha Clarkson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


Last summer’s apples
are squirming
on the sill
fill the cluttered
kitchen air
with the backyard
smell of fallen
fruit cracked
open and leaking
up through October leaves
resting on grass-points
unmown and host
craning for light
like you
search every aphotic corner
her note ripening
on the counter.

Driving to the Coast

Signalled by the hills
of emptied shells,
you stop for oysters Outside, salt air
reaches us like a homecoming –
inside, tireless
short women crack open
shell after shell
with conveyor-belt efficiency,
pearls are just a dream
From the plastic-bibbed clerk
you get yours whole
sea-caught virgins you later defile
with a daggerish shucker Tucked in our cabin
after midday, mid-floor sex,
window cracked
to hear the steady boom
of waves seizing shore,
you wrestle open
each nodulous irregular shell
dip shiny meat in special sauce
only you can make.

Calling Becky Lind, 1960

How heavy the receiver
weighed in my hand,
the black plastic
dense as concrete
the eyes of the dial
spelled her name at me,
dared me to connect,
to brave through the dial tone,
breath as loud as petting
then no breath at all
to actually talk,
and the silences
big as libraries.

The Willow Tree

“The willow must go”, Mother says to Father Bethy and I think it is the prettiest tree we have ever seen
and don’t understand this,
except that words like “roots” and “sewer”
have been tossed around this week
Bethy and I play tea party under it, and Tarzan,
and I always make her be Jane Under it, Jimmy Brown even pulled
down his pants once     
but timing was bad,
the wind swung the branches open
as nearby our moms snipped rosebuds Later he got spanked
It is a cloudy Saturday for the root-pulling The men wear white and circle the tree like one big dentist Bethy is here, of course, and her big sister Marla, who has braces Bethy and I hold hands to the growl of the chainsaws My brother Toby plugs his ears Soon we play marbles for distraction
fromThe Execution that our parents signed for
Mom serves our favorite lunch of tuna sandwiches with the crust off Along the window sill are four empty pickle jars with the lids punched We will use these to scoop caterpillars from the wreckage,
feed them grass all day and take the jars to bed with us First we have five Oreos each and Marla gets chocolate in her braces Finally we hear just regular noise
and the silence of heavy logs in the yard.

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