POETRY MONDAY: September 3, 2012
Welcome back, everyone. Our featured poet today is Alice Kociemba, who has been a practicing psychodynamic psychotherapist for thirty years. She makes her home on Cape Cod, where she directs an outstanding and well-known poetry reading series at the West Falmouth Public Library.
Additionally, a poetry discussion group she leads received the 2012 Literacy Award from the Cape Cod Council of the International Reading Association for having significant literary impact, promoting literacy through poetry.
It’s Alice Kociemba’s own poetry, however, that brings her to our pages with the three poems below. “The Death of Teaticket Hardware,” the title poem of her 2010 chapbook, received an International Merit Award from the Atlanta Review in 2008 and “After the Funeral” appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of Off the Coast. “That dream of you again” is new and as yet unpublished. We’re happy to feature her and her work.
Death of Teaticket Hardware
I never knew his name,
nor he mine.
He was always there.
Patient. Polite. Shy.
I never knew the name of what I needed, either.
But he did. After listening.
“You know that thingamajig
that connects the hose to the washer.”
“I need the innards of a lamp.”
He’d find it in a flash –
through overcrowded aisles,
so narrow only a munchkin could maneuver.
In the back of the store, on the dusty top shelf
where whatsits live.
He’d tell me how to use it.
And he’d tell me again,
drawing it on the little scratch pad
he kept at the register (not the electric kind)
next to the dish of pennies
and the bowl of lollipops.
I would always leave with a red one,
He was the kindest man in town.
I imagined he went home at 5:30 every night
to the apartment above the store,
and told his wife over meatloaf and mashed potatoes
green beans and pecan pie:
“That lady came in again today, seems bright enough
but doesn’t even know a lamp has a socket.”
And he’d smile, when she would say, “Oh, Mrs. Dimwit.”
And they would turn on the News at Six.
The drive to town is eerie now
that Teaticket Hardware is gone.
Boarded up windows stare like a zombie
whose soul’s been stolen by Wal-Mart.
Peter Cabral, son of John, son of Peter, son of John,
I never said hello, or goodbye, or thank you.
After the Funeral
(for Mary, at thirteen, on Father’s Day)
She had made the sprinkler bottle
at Scouts for Mother’s Day,
spray-painted a Coke bottle pea green,
taped a flat nozzle to a hollowed out cork,
and curled yellow ribbons to its neck, with scissors.
Now she fills it with cold water, and takes
each white cotton button-down shirt,
two weeks worth, out of the laundry basket;
sprinkles the collar, sleeves, back, right and left front,
rolls them up and places them in the refrigerator drawer,
after removing the iceberg lettuce.
Cold shirt part, sprayed with starch, hit by heavy iron,
until twelve ghosts of him hang
from the plate rail in the dining room.
It was the only time she ever ironed.
The smell of him reunites them –
the tang of his weary and worried heart
rises from the sweat of that button-down job
that killed him. He was the only one
who understood her.
Her mother drags herself home,
from the 7 – 3 shift,
to find him resurrected.
So she stuffs each perfectly ironed shirt
into a garbage bag.
No words were ever exchanged
but it was the last time,
Mary tried to be good.
That dream of you again
this time—a deranged pope,
rushing from pew to pew
in a holy rage to save,
touching the heads
of the kneeling children,
with mottled hands,
as each one leans to kiss
the heavy holy ring.
Your cataract blue eyes glow,
the ecstasy of submission—
but now you’re one of the entourage,
the brown-haired curate,
carrying a camera,
you move in shadow,
from pillar to pillar,
following the Holy Father,
capturing the upturned faces
of young boys, that fearful longing,
full of father hunger—
later, alone in the darkroom,
those faces float into view,
like when he touched you,
taught you to find that relief,
an unholy loneliness,