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Featured Poet Unshod Quills

Catherine Woodard – Featured Poet

Unshod Quills 12/15/11

Our second feature is an amazing writer who sent a suite of submissions on the theme of childhood alone, and our skirts were blown nearly clean off by the gale force of their brilliance.

 

5 poems from For Coming Forth By Day

 

FOR BEING ANY SHAPE ONE MAY WISH

 

My brother collects the dead
sparrows that crash
into the roof.
He thinks the birds
kill our shot
at Yard of the Month.
Ladies of the Garden Club
inspect, drive slowly
round town
with a white proclamation
in the trunk.
Only the front yard matters.

 

FOR NOT PERISHING AT SUNDAY LUNCH

 

Mother kills my joyride in the new red Opel.
Says his breath stinks. He roars off without me—

With my last stick of Juicy Fruit and a thin mint.
I drink more sweet tea, pout and wait

For my grandfather to finish banana pudding
And the story of Mother baptizing kittens.

Rescue lights race us on Raleigh Road, as red
As the car flipped in the fallow field.

Mother jumps the ditch in church heels,
Her daddy right behind.
We wait.

 

PSALM 43

 

I rustle the bulletin to make a fan;
Mother shoots me the eye, shushes.

Why cast down thine eyes?
Sweats the preacher. His chins jiggle.

Why so disturbed within,
Put hope in Him. I stare down.

Lace socks, white patent toes.
Where does hope hide?

I ask me, eye scuff marks.
I find lost keys with him.

 

MAKING A THIRD-GRADE SOUL
WORTHY TO MRS. MINNIE LEE LONG

 

Mrs. Long doesn’t like erasing.
Any mistake, I copy the page again.
Even if at the last sentence.
Even if my hand cramps.

If I erase, I need to know
That very second
The ghost of the pencil
Leaves without a tear.

Eraser shavings smell
Like forgotten socks,
Cling dingy to lined paper
Or scatter across my desk.

She holds up bad examples:
Messy math, crumpled spelling,
A hole in history.

 

THE PUMPKIN MAN

 

As I land for my father’s funeral,
My first plane ends in an orange orb:
Dawn lifts off the runway.

 

More poems by Ms. Woodard

 

MY STORY FOR THIRD GRADE
(After Mrs. Long Fixed the Spelling)

 

Slaying dragons requires lots of planning and practice. You must listen very carefully in dragon school. Dragons hide themselves. Sometimes they pretend to be kittens and just when you stroke their fur they snap back into dragons. But as long as you pretend they aren’t dragons they cannot eat you. That is the rule. You have to pretend hard even if your head hurts.

Other times they look like dragons, pretend to sleep outside your bedroom. I tiptoe to bed, guard against dragon thoughts. If I sleep before they creep in, I am safe until dawn.

 

MY DIARY, AGE SEVEN

 

I am in a bad mood.
I get sweet. I help Daddy
fix supper. Daddy makes Mother
a pretty birthday dinner.

***

My nose bleeds at my cousin’s wedding.
I am the flower girl. The white dress is itchy
Hot. Mother pulls my head way back,
holds tight with a big wad of wet tissues.

***

My pillow has a problem.
The feathers lump up.
Mother says it’s been loved
Too much. Was her pillow too.

 

FAMILY ALBUM

 

My parents run
Through wedding rice.
She is 19. Hopes her linen suit
Makes her look mature.

***

My brother at three plugs a gap
Between holster and hips
With a bear plucked of fur.
He stuffed his nose and ears
Till Mother bribed him with guns.
His pistols drag the ground.

***

I am starched at four
In pinafore and smocking.
A hand cups my chin.
I stare where the photographer asks.