Marilyn L. Taylor
A card-carrying ice cream addict who favors mint chocolate chip, I’m also the the former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin (2009 - 2010) and the author of six poetry collections. My work has appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Poetry, Able Muse, and Measure, and I also served for five years as a regular poetry columnist for The Writer magazine. I currently live in Madison, Wisconsin with my poet-husband Dave and an aging cat, where I continue to write, teach, and hobnob with some extraordinary poets who also call Wisconsin home.
To the Mother of a Dead Marine
Your boy once touched me, yes. I knew you knew
when your wet, reddened gaze drilled into me,
groped through my clothes for signs, some residue
of him—some lusciousness of mine that he
had craved, that might have driven his desire
for things perilous, poisonous, out-of-bounds.
Could I have been the beast he rode to war?
The battle mounted in his sleep, the rounds
of ammunition draped like unblown blossoms
round his neck? Could I have somehow flung
myself against the wall of his obsessions,
leaving spells and curses on his tongue?
Your fingers tighten, ready to engage
the delicate hair-trigger of your rage.
Originally published in Smartish Pace (2009)
The minimum lethal dose of morphine is 200 milligrams, typically fourteen light blue
15 mg tablets. Unconsciousness usually occurs in 5 to 15 minutes, death in 20 to 50.
As soon as the sun departs the house
At five in the afternoon
He deposits and seals in an amber jar
Another pale-blue moon.
He places the jar on the cabinet shelf
And swivels the handle tight;
Pockets the key in his terrycloth robe
And sits and waits for night.
He can hear the grandchildren crowing below,
Awash in their video games;
He tries for a time to assemble their faces,
And say a few of their names.
But he can’t recall how many he has,
Or what their small fantasies are,
Or why their mothers and fathers have come
To put his clothes in the car.
He careens on the edge of a desperate thought,
A glimmer from where he's been—
But he doesn’t remember the amber jar
Nor the moons crumbling within.
Why Don’t You
shut up? Shut up, shut up, shut up, okay?
You’re not my lucky star, you are a damn
black hole. I do not love you, Sam-I-am.
Get lost. Scram. Beat it. Go away.
Clear out your retrosexual groceries—
that loaf of bread, the jug of wine—right now;
and as for your adoring little thou,
just watch her kick you in the fantasies.
I get the sense you’re painfully aware
that you’re a loser. The Big Dumpee.
How sad. Let me extend my sympathy
by offering you a simple little prayer:
May your next cocktail be a Molotov,
and everything that you hold dear fall off.
Originally published in The Seven Very Liberal Arts, Aralia Press (2007)
Private Memo for the U.S. Chiefs of Staff
Will we win this war? No way in hell.
From time to time our generals seem perplexed,
but damn, our strategies are working well!
Remember how we sliced that parallel
across Korea? How we cleared the decks…
when other strategies weren’t working well?
And all those hippie freaks—couldn’t they tell
we’d ditch Saigon, but not until we flexed
some muscle? And did we win? No way in hell.
But the Gulf Wars! What a shame we couldn’t sell
the world on simply letting us annex
the Middle East. We’d all be doing well—
but now, it’s Terrorism. Can we quell
another damned abstraction with our next
gambit? Can we win? No way in hell—
But let’s kick ass to keep our clientele
from getting surly. Irritated. Vexed.
Old strategies keep working pretty well,
but win this war? You nuts? No way in hell.
©2016 Marilyn L. Taylor
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