Lois Marie Harrod


His Mouth

Those last six days
even the smile disappeared
and his voice became the sink hole
I had been pushed back from as a child,
a weak spot where the earth gave way.

But the mouth did not give way.

It stretched itself
into the outline of a rotting pear,
a slack rubber band,
as if he were holding the left
side open for a last word
while the right lay too feeble to listen.

And all the while I could hear his voice
pleading from the speechless pulpit
cannot you wait with me one hour.

Of course, that too was understated
as his life had been. A man can live
without praise, and now he was
living without water. Three, four,
five, six days his Gethsemane continued,
dying as he had dictated
without intervention.

Six days with his breath
so soiled my sister and I
held wet towels to our faces
when our mother was not watching.

I understood then how those
who died without odor
could be considered saints,
bodies incorruptible,
but not how my mother
could say she smelled
nothing at all.
This Is a Story You Already Know

This is the story of the high school student,
who drove from Pennsylvania to Vermont,
and the story of the loud fat girl
who worked with him at Burger King,
the one who said, how like him,
not to shoot himself and spoil his pretty face
and the story of her skinny friend

who agreed, yea, handsome son of a bitch,
combing his hair in the french fries
and the story of his mother
who drove the school bus
and had to watch the blue-eyed boys
alive and laughing at every stop
and this is the story of one of them

who also hooked up a tube to the exhaust
of his father’s car and sat there a long time
thinking, but did not turn on the engine,
and this is the story of his coach who thought
the one who died was still a pain in the ass
and said so at the funeral, and the story
of the History teacher who wished

he had waited for the lilacs
as if beauty ever had any power to save,
and this is the story of the girl
who believed if she had not blown him off
that last time when he called her from Rutland,
he might still be living, and the story
of his friends who said she did kill him,

the story of how sometimes
she got drunk and wanted to kill herself
and her new boyfriend said, no, no,
nothing could have stopped him
, but she couldn’t believe,
and this is the story of the last words
a hundred people heard him say,
the kid he bought dope from, stuck, man, and the boss

who had finally fired him, up yours,
and the cafeteria lady, three meatballs please,
father, son and holy ghost,
and his next door neighbor,
hi-ya Mrs. Erlington,
sexy dress you have on today,
he was always flirting,that one

and this is the story
of his sister who cried in her bedroom,
the girl who wouldn’t wash the shirts
she had taken from his closet
and had worn as her own that week between
the day he fought with his father and left
and the day the telephone began to ring.

Lois Marie Harrod’s chapbook Put Your Sorry Side Out was published by Concrete Wolf in 2005, and she won a 2003 fellowship, her third, from the New Jersey Council on the Arts for her poetry. Her sixth book of poetry Spelling the World Backward (2000) was published by Palanquin Press, University of South Carolina Aiken, which also published her chapbook This Is a Story You Already Know (l999) and her book Part of the Deeper Sea (l997). Her poems have appeared in many journals, among them American Poetry Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, American Pen, Prairie Schooner, The Literary Review, Zone 3, and Green Mountains Review. Her earlier publications include the books Every Twinge a Verdict (Belle Mead Press, l987), Crazy Alice (Belle Mead Press, l991) and a chapbook Green Snake Riding (New Spirit Press, l994).

Published in: on April 20, 2007 at 10:04 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I’m one of Lois’s students, and I wanted to get in touch with her. Can you please give me her email address, or let her know I’d like to email her and give her mine? I had an old one for her but it didn’t work.

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