V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





    Summer of nineteen seventy-something,
somebody's little sister has a baby.
We all drive the fifty miles of Metro artery
into Detroit's sooty heart to see for ourselves.
Blazing full-blown daylily summer, bulldozers
pulling up malls in the immigrant fields,
four or five long-haired girls in a Mustang,
windows down and wailing to Marvin Gaye÷
you know we've got to find a way
to bring some understanding    here today
One of us now an aunt with a big stuffed dog
in a carful of big stuffed hungover
heads with freshly shampooed bangs.
All of our fathers are drinking men
father, father    we don't need to escalate
war is not the answer   and only love can conquer hate
and all of our mothers are lousy cooks.  All of us girls
wear pink lip gloss and smoke Kool Kings.
    Whose father makes the basement wine,
the clear corn liquor we siphon and sweeten
with 7-up and cherries?  Whose mother
makes the borscht and bitter cabbage rolls?
Whose father knocks whose mother
down the stairs?  Whose father gets
laid off and lets the lawn grow back to prairie?
Whose mother hangs the Christ heart
stuck with thorns on the kitchen wall
above the stove?  Take this and eat
and the spiders hatch in vacuum cleaner bags.
And we lift the new child up
in the swaddling light
of Henry Ford General Motors where
his mother will spend the bright coins
of her teens her twenties her thirties her forties
mother, mother, mother there's far too many
of you crying  somebody's mother says
why don't you girls get that straggly hair
out of your face, hold up your heads?

© by Pamela Gemin


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