Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"My Father's Love :Letters"

(11x14 sheet)

Irises perplex me. But I have a couple in bloom now, and since they're blue-violet, I can't resist them.
Only time to do a little preliminary figuring out of how they're put together today, since today's the day I have to bring my paintings to library for my exhibit!

Two poems about fathers, or maybe about their children, that I had to get in before the end of the month:
My Father's Love Letters
Yusef Komunyakaa

On Fridays he'd open a can of Jax
After coming home from the mill,
& ask me to write a letter to my mother
Who sent postcards of desert flowers
Taller than men. He would beg,
Promising to never beat her
Again. Somehow I was happy
She had gone, & sometimes wanted
To slip in a reminder, how Mary Lou
Williams' "Polka Dots & Moonbeams"
Never made the swelling go down.
His carpenter's apron always bulged
With old nails, a claw hammer
Looped at his side & extension cords
Coiled around his feet.
Words rolled from under the pressure
Of my ballpoint: Love,
Baby, Honey, Please.
We sat in the quiet brutality
Of voltage meters & pipe threaders,
Lost between sentences . . .
The gleam of a five-pound wedge
On the concrete floor
Pulled a sunset
Through the doorway of his toolshed.
I wondered if she laughed
& held them over a gas burner.
My father could only sign
His name, but he'd look at blueprints
& say how many bricks
Formed each wall. This man,
Who stole roses & hyacinth
For his yard, would stand there
With eyes closed & fists balled,
Laboring over a simple word, almost
Redeemed by what he tried to say.

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.


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RHCarpenter said...

Thank you, Laura, for these poems. They were touching, sad, moving, provocative...
I'm also glad your blog seems to have sorted itself out on my blogroll and isn't sitting at the end anymore! Good luck on the show :)

A Brush with Color said...

I agree--irises are very complicated, aren't they!? They're so glorious looking that I can never resist trying them, but they're hard. Your drawings are beautiful! Can't wait to see if you do paintings. Roethke's poem here is one of my all-time favorites. It always touched me. WOnderful poetry, Laura!

A Brush with Color said...

I meant to say, I love your new header here, Laura--wonderful!

Judybec said...

Your poems are intriguing and the iris drawings are lovely.... I was working on iris today too .... but in Asian style brushwork.... it's one brush stroke and it's done... well, maybe, --not as easy as it looks!

Teresa said...

Love your new header!

You've done a great job drawing the irises.

Rethabile said...

Those are nice poems. It was Yusef's birthday yesterday.

shicat said...

I hope we get to see the photos of your watercolor exhibit.

The Iris drawings are splendid I am wondering if you used watercolor pencils on your color samples. All colors are jewel like.

Barbara M. said...

Hi Laura,

I don't know what got into me that I haven't seem these beautiful drawings.
They may perplex you, but you draw them like an expert. Just perfect.

Beautiful and sad poems.

Take care,



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