Thursday, March 03, 2005

Something to trapdoor a winter afternoon. . .

How I love what the Internet has done for us, serving up heaps of homegrown poetry on a chilly evening at the command of a few keystrokes. No down coat required. No pot of hot tea. Only a compliant search engine and an outlet for my plug.

Illinois' poet laureate is Bradley Caterpillar Professor of English (great title) Kevin Stein.

Here's an excerpt from his poem Home Economics published in his book Chance Ransom (University of Illinois Press). (With apologies to Mr. Stein for the inappropriate formatting of his poem. Blogger does not appear to appreciate the subtleties of "printing" verse.)

If not the Betty Crocker commercial,
then the smell of vanilla extract,
an oven timer slicing kitchen quiet:

something to trapdoor a winter afternoon
beneath memory's ornate noose
which is, alas, a noose nonetheless.

To put my neck in is to feel the clock's tick tock,
the porch knocker clacking,
to be the boy jerking open the oak door

for impeccable Mr. Burke,
tanned above polished loafers topped off with dimes.
He's come for this week's cake,

devil's food wiht chocolate icing
spritzed to resemble the sailboat
he floats the murky lake in -- Lady Luck,

all teak and brilliant brass.

Mother tents an Eisenhower hair net
over her bouffant--
cleanliness as style and substance.

She bakes other folks' cakes, pies, cookies.
No one says women's work.
No one has to.

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