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Sample Poems by Miriam Kotzin



Submission
External Beam Radiation Therapy

Two cheerful women teach me how to lie
there on the table. Then they bind my feet
and warn me not to move. I will not cry.

My belly's bared, scar-quilted; low and high,
the pattern covers me, my shy conceit.
Two cheerful women teach me how to lie

and comprehend I am a target?why
two careful women readjust my sheet
and warn me not to move. I will not cry,

but emulate sepulchral stillness. I
endure the gantry's halting circuits beat.
Two cheerful women teach me how to lie.

Some days the gantry arms embrace, slide by,
then stop and buzz (Above. Below. Slow. Sweet.)
and warn me not to move. I will not cry

though piped-in Mozart makes the time go by
in highlights only, ending incomplete.
Two cheerful women teach me how to lie
and warn me not to move. (I must not cry.)

Miriam's Samsong

Here is a woman who's been diagnosed.

Here is a woman whose hands tremble, cold.
Here is a woman with laundry to fold.

Here is a woman who's in disarray.
Here is a woman with nothing to say.
Here is a woman who scuttles away.

Here is a woman whose questions are posed.
Here is a woman whose face is composed.
Here is a woman they opened and closed.
Here is a woman whose future's foreclosed.

Here is a woman who's forced to adjust.
Here is a woman who once was robust.
Here is a woman who's turning to dust.
Here is a woman who's turning to rust.
Here is a woman who's trying to trust.

Here is a woman who's pacing the hall.
Here is a woman who's wrapped in a shawl.
Here is a woman who's dreading nightfall.
Here is a woman who waits for the call.
Here is a woman who cannot recall.
Here is a woman whose jokes will appall.

Here is a woman whose windows are barred.
Here is a woman whose belly is scarred.
Here is a woman whose dream has been marred.
Here is a woman who must stay on guard.
Here is a woman who's dealt her last card.

Here is a woman who's lost all her hair.
Here is a woman who tries not to care.
Here is a woman who tries to prepare.
Here is a woman who whispers a prayer.

Here is a woman who got a tattoo.
Here is a woman whose scarf is askew.
Here is a woman who always made do.
Here is a woman who's trying to cope.
Here is a woman still flirting with hope.

Here is a woman who's been diagnosed.



Goldenrod

Well, then, consider the proud goldenrod.
It lords the pasture and roadways while all

summer long it busies itself with hoarding
the heat and the sunlight. It holds them up

as an offering, all the gathered summer gold
as if to say, "This! Just this! Just this and no more!"

And the hot sky responds,
"This! Just this and no more!"

But this happens, and then that comes to pass
as you guessed it would: Summer wanes. Then

the goldenrod holds up its summer's store of greed
like a measured sacrifice, "This! Just this and no more."

The regardless sky responds, "Just this and no more."
Now along the roadway and over all the wide pasture

goldenrod offers up these soft gray curls,
its question, a plea, "This? Just this?

Just this and no more?" And the cold sky answers
as you know it will.

Cake

When Elvis turned eighty,
I thought it might be pleasant

if he lived right down
the hall from me. Most winter

afternoons he wants
tea and, on his birthday,

cake, as golden as summer,
slathered with marshmallow icing.

I carry a tray to the studio
apartment where he's living

simply. I never come
empty handed, just

to see him lift the napkin
like the hem of my skirt,

to hear him say, Thank you.
Thank you ver' much.


Oh, Elvis, Elvis,
what would become of me

if I believed you'd left
the building?