Sunday, July 19, 2015

Voice of Martyrs

She had to do without a lot of things,
for your sake, to help you,
because God knows you needed it.

Go ahead, dive into those beer-battered iguana steaks
and RC Cola--
made by hunchbacks from old cancer drugs
and leaf-tea water from the bird bath.

Ungrateful, that's what you are.
She brings her sheepskin and her medical bag,
her sharp eye and her dull scalpel,
and all you ever do is buzz like a stupid toy as she removes the barbs
she put there over time, millions of them, placed just so.

Too bad one can't make a sampler out of a disappointed look--
you'd never need wallpaper.
Nature provides exactly what each creature needs,
though she has chosen to do without heart, stomach, ovaries,
in favor of giving everything to you, especially those betrayed, doleful eyes.

Now here you are, a donation box she has poured herself into,
sleeping it off,
hating yourself,
collecting methods of suicide like stickers,
last night's appalling Chinese take-out uneaten and wasted (!)
on the table and on the floor where it has spilled and mixed
with the pet hair on the carpet.

See the ants, as industrious as if they were going to Mass,
substituting congealed chicken kow for wafers and wine.
See the roaches, immortal and unstoppable as your jones,
demonstrating grace and sacrifice--
for you! again for you!--
by entertaining the cat
who plays with, and then kills them, but who sometimes

reverses the sequence.
_______

grace for Karin.

12 comments:

hedgewitch said...

As always, you never bring the expected thing, but always the shock, the surprise of your own gift. This is enough to freeze not just blood, but the engine that pumps it--and the liquid in the vision that blurs, assimilating it. Each line tops the last--I was esp knocked out by the number of samplers it would take to wallpaper a room--all the trite mottoes, end to end, all the barbed back-handed remarks that nothing, really can remove--the flesh itself has to reject them. Anyway--you are on quite a roll, dear Shay--you give us such wealth here every time you pick up that pen.

Susan said...

Whew! SO many references! I love the resonance with the short story "Yellow Wallpaper." If the barbs are disappointments, the wallpaper is up and by giving the body parts woman is complicite, a mockery of herself. Giving no-thing to the ants who love it! Thank God for cats and all the lessons they teach! Thank God for you, Shay, who put it together for me!

Outlawyer said...

Agree with all comments above. Ouch! And yet the reader is also exhilarated by the pure energy and venom and vulnerability of it all. Terrific. Thanks for participating and bringinf your own twist. K.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

So good I am rendered nearly mute in response. WOW! You nailed it. "a donation box she has poured herself into." The industrious ants. Why are you not internationally famous? There must have been some mistake.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Too bad one can't make a sampler out of a disappointed look--
you'd never need wallpaper.

Now there is a quotable quote I'd like to frame and hang on my sitting room wall.

;-)

Isadora Gruye said...

This piece really took off for me in the third stanza and is sit orbiting! I wonder if the poem starts there? Either way, I thought you handled the transition from then to now very well, the movement was subtle and impactful. For instance, how the piece starts with the mother figure removing barbs put there herself and ends with the cat toying with ants before killing them (or the reverse), suggests to me a mirror, that the mother figure and the cat maybe playing the same game. I found that rather brilliant. Intentional or not your work always brings the reader to newer spaces, or atlas invites them to go somewhere other than the dusty spaces in-between the words.

Also, I was very found of this line:

Now here you are, a donation box she has poured herself into,
sleeping it off,
hating yourself,

Mama Zen said...

"Too bad one can't make a sampler out of a disappointed look--
you'd never need wallpaper."

This is sharp enough to cut glass.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

As always a powerful & breathtaking piece!
Beautifully penned :D

Lots of love,
Sanaa

Cloudia said...

"made by hunchbacks from old cancer drugs"

Noir wit. Smokin`

georgeplaceblog said...

"Now here you are, a donation box she has poured herself into,
See the ants, as industrious as if they were going to Mass"

Two lines that really stand out for me. You see so deeply it must feel like drowning sometimes.

willow sloan said...

The martyr is a woman. The narrator is speaking to her ungrateful husband, who has killed his wife slowly, over the bulk of a lifetime.

Exquisite writing. So very sad though.

These are my favorites:

"Go ahead, dive into those beer-battered iguana steaks
and RC Cola"

"her sharp eye and her dull scalpel"

"last night's appalling Chinese take-out uneaten and wasted (!)
on the table and on the floor where it has spilled and mixed
with the pet hair on the carpet"

"substituting congealed chicken kow for wafers and wine"

"See the roaches, immortal and unstoppable as your jones"

The ending is chilling and really makes the poem for me:
"who plays with, and then kills them, but who sometimes
reverses the sequence"

It's kinder to just kill something first, and then make it your toy. I'm sure his wife wishes she could have been killed first.

Other Mary said...

Yeah, that's so much stuff here - good stuff that is. Not sure which is more perfect, her, "...removing the barbs/ she put there over time," or the, "sampler of disappointed looks," or her going without, "heart, stomach, ovaries/ in favor of giving everything to you" and pouring herself into the donation box. And then there's the critters...
Very cool, Shay.