Poems by Lucille McIntosh Dendurent
"Who turns the moon on, Mamma? Is the night
A big dark blanket, really? and the grass?
Your eyes have stars in them sometimes, all bright
And Mom, the flowers whisper when you pass."
I cannot count the glories of my days,
Describe the bubbling spring of lively joys:
I have been given leprechauns to raise
Who took the form of lyrical small boys.
Iíll Tell You...
Iíll tell you when Iím forty-one
Iíll set on the porch when my work is done
And fold my hands and rock and set
And not get up for nothin yet
And when I want an ol fly swatter,
A fine comb, or a drink of water,
I'll holler for my youngest daughter.
I'll run her cussed laigs right off
Cause she didn't die of the hoopin cough.
I'll say, "You're younger than I am!"
And I'll be the boss, by damn!
I'll tell you when I'm forty-one
I'll set on the porch while the scorchin sun
Makes tired shadows reach for town.
I'll set on the porch while the sun goes down
And comb my hair and wiggle my toes
And just be glad I'm not bothered with beaux
And Sis can go skatin as much as she wishes
As long as she washes the supper dishes.
From every room we called her, from the garden,
And always her glad cries rang through the years,
And then one summer morning no one answered.
None came to share our joys, or dry our tears.
Yet in our saddened rooms and hearts and gardens,
Not memories and grief alone remain,
But hope that in God's new world we will gather,
And she will answer when we call again.
She had little use for coins or paper
Excepting for the things that they could buy;
A skein of yarn, and little things for babies,
A wondrous toy to light a youngster's eye.
And when she died, we sorted her possessions
(There must be something done, we'd both agree)
So really very few, things she was given,
And things her hands had made when she could see.
A dried corsage, her crocked shoes, and powder
Soft in a bowl, a whiter hair in her brush,
A tube of toothpaste squeezed just as she had left it,
A thousand keen reminders, memories
To cherish, yes, she left us lots of these.
No real estate or gems or lawyers bold:
But in a box we almost overlooked
Remembered hand had penned years before
Will us that item, her scrap book.
Summer is a witch
With eyes like rain-green moss-grown tree bark
And the naked body of a woman
Shadowed and white and yielding
In the leaf-etched moonlight.
Summer is a witch
Who slips with supple strength
Through clear lake water,
Turning her drop-sparkling belly
To an intimate, adoring sun.
Summer is a witch
Across the table in a smoke-blue beer hall;
She does an impromptu strip
To frayed white panties and black-lace bra;
She dances herself unconscious
And her head cracks sickeningly against concrete.
Summer is a witch
Who would feed us gingerbread and bonbons,
Until our sweet-ridden heavy tongues
Remember long cool drinks at familiar springs.
Summer is a witch.
I am glad that autumn is at hand.
It shouldn't be so hard to forget.
It was little enough we shared:
A couple of drinks, a dance, a kiss.
I was almost convinced I cared.
Romance hangovers are quickly cured
(So they tell me. I wouldn't know.)
But may I remember or must I forget
That night when I loved you so?
Summer is a shining maiden
Dancing through the fields of golden wheat,
Through tawny wheat that ripples in the breeze
And sways under the moonlight;
The moonlight pale upon the shining maiden,
As she treads surely to the blue-green forest,
On to the bright land of the moon
Where she meets her dream lover.
Autumn is a woman with a rare
Array of beauty, coming down the way,
Singing clear, a lightsome song and gay,
Red berries on her lips and in her hair;
Yet in her heart the song is low and sad,
For she has left her lover to be bride
To one to whom she is in duty tied,
To live inside a house that is frost-clad.
Winter is an old woman
Who sits all day by the window,
Knitting stockings and mumbling to herself
Incoherent phrases that no one understands;
She stares out at the hard crust of snow,
And the faded eyes show a brief happiness
Until they fall again upon her lap,
And she takes up her work again,
Scolding because she has dropped a stitch.
Spring is a nymph new-turned seventeen,
Who dances on the magic carpet of youth,
The carpet made by the moonlight
Woven through the forest;
And Spring dances on, little knowing
That in the wake of her shadow,
Close enough to touch her shining hair,
Is her lover, waiting the time
When she is ready to learn of love.
Everyone is walkin' soft -
Think that I was sound asleep
The way they tiptoe through the house.
Well. I ain't. I'm busy, too.
Thought they won't let me tote the wood
Or fill the pail, but jest say, "Set,
And mind the stew, or swat the flies."
Well, I get busy right away
A-thinkin' things up in my mind
About the war - it' all so real
I 'most could think that I was back
At Gettysburg - w'y I kin smell
The blood and smoke - Now, p'raps you think
I liked that - but I didn't so -
I wouldn' want ter fight again
Ner see the others, but you know,
Well - that was makin' his'try then.
I git so gosh-dang deep in thought
The pot biles over, sizzles too,
Jest sorta like them guns, an' well,
I just let out some crazy yeep
About the war. Then they come fast
And I can see it in their eyes -
They think I'm daft about the war
And gitting' old - I guess they're right.
The trees with outstretched empty arms
Are etched forlorn against the sky -
They hold in Spring a thousand charms,
But now they shake in grief and sigh.
So stand I, too, with empty arms,
I cry into the bitter wind....
Yet Spring will come to trees and farms,
And you'll be in my arms again.
I think that Lincoln might have walked the way
That led through stubbled fields and wooded lanes
Across a rail fence, ankle-deep in clay
And new-born rivers sprung from autumn rains.
I think his three-leg mongrel ran ahead
chase the rabbits out from copse and brush,
And that he ate his ham hock and his bread
Beneath the ash tree in the forest's hush.
And then I think that when at last he lay
Upon his death bed, gripped with final pain,
He saw a lad go down the miry way
With gun and dog, not to return again.
"Psalm Opus 21, or A Song of the Third Degree"
I will cast down mine eyes before my therapist,
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from Mennigers,* which made
diagnosis and recommendation.
They will not suffer my pockets to be full:
they that would comfort me will not credit me.
Behold, he that keepeth my counsel keepeth me
from slumber and sleep.
My therapist is my keeper: my therapist is
a boil on my right hand.
The sun does not shine for me by day,
nor the moon by night.
May my therapist preserve me from all evil:
may he restyle my soul.
My therapist shall observe my goings out
and my comings in from this time forth,
and even unto destitution.
* The Menniger Institute is a psychiatric clinic in Topeka, Kansas
My arms were full of hyacinths that day -
That warm day of my youth, as lone I walked
At high noon on a hilltop; gold they were -
Such molten gold it hurt my eyes to gaze,
And tore my heart to know there was such beauty.
But now my arms are laden with the gold
Of autumn nettles, tinged with hues of brown -
They're ugly, and they prick my arms, and yet
I cannot take my eyes from them - I know
Life's ugly - yet it does not hurt to know it.
Faculty Follies ca. 1954
To the tune of "Music, Music, Music"
When they flunk in chemistry
That sure don't reflect on me
Folks 'round here just seem to be
For music, music, music.
When the students sleep in class
I just grin and let it pass
They snore double time in bass
It's music, music. music.
They've got to praaaaaactice,
For Burrough's Band,
And gosh knows what,
But that's OK by me.
Science puts them to the test
Proves which field they like the best.
Stick around and you'll be blessed
With music, music, music.
I watched a purple cloud drift by,
Across the azure summer sky,
And saw the sun's rays, purest gold
Upon the dewy earth unfold:
I felt my fettered soul uplift
Before the molten sunset drift;
And in the hazy blue afar
I saw the gleaming evening star.
TWO BOYS! TWO MORE BOYS!
Two little fellows as like as peas,
Sweet little morsels of mankind, these,
Smelling to Heaven of powder and oil,
Wearing long clothes of embroidery and voile.
Four funny chins and as many pink ears,
Plenty of crying without any tears;
Fat little eyes and a few tufts of hair:
Oh what a future's in store for this pair!
Happy the mother and daddy who beam
Upon these dear babies, the thread of their dream.
Two More Boys!
Two more boys, just like their brothers:
Who'd have thought there'd be two others!
The same fat eyes and tufts of hair,
The same small garments by the pair.
The big twins beam on the little twins
And run to locate shirts and pins.
Sometimes they form a male quartette
And make the most commotion yet!
But oh, what fun, both cares and joys,
To be the folks of four small boys!