Cathexis Northwest Press
Sitting by the fire with Death...; The neighbor lied when he said; Poem about the bottle...
By: Shari Crane Fox
Sitting by the fire with Death in a quiet pub on 2nd St.
I’m working on a poem
in a cozy red leather booth during happy hour
when Death walks in.
She sits down across from me, uninvited.
This is my writing time.
Trying to be polite, I tell her
The things I don’t have time for are the things I want most.
She hands me a drink.
Nice wedding ring, she says.
Thank you. It’s new, I reply.
Taking a child, she tells me,
a bride, or a parent caring for children,
is the worst
part of my job. I prefer the elderly.
Or those in pain who are happy to see me.
But to take those with rosy complexions, newlyweds,
or someone with a new puppy? These are the jobs I save
for the end of the day.
—If I don’t call in sick.
She downs her Bloody Mary.
I show her my poem. She agrees it needs
We order one more round.
The neighbor lied when he said
he saw my legs around
another man’s neck through the kitchen window.
I’m a good wife. I was only late for a lunch meeting.
The raspberry thing he saw was simply a candle melting slowly, the wax sliding between my thighs. I’m sorry he lied, I am not that kind of girl. I’m afraid of heights.
And spiders. I have delicate fingers.
I’m the girl next door, a picnic on a Sunday afternoon,
saltines and warm tomato soup.
be a Manhattan skewered by a sodden cherry, or a cherry at all,
and certainly not an olive with that red thing
pushed into the center.
No, I’m sensible sweater and patent leather.
Besides, how could there be someone else?
Isn’t love forever?
Poem about the bottle blonde ex who stole your dog
After Adrian C. Louis
who now is
to you with
her long gone
& us wed
is lifting her
I found your
pieces after she
her factotum, after
she stole your
your money, your
and left you
like an old couch,
& she is nothing
to you now,
but very much
present again today
on Airbnb, of all
places, you got
20 dollars off
because she went
but not where
to send her.
Shari Crane Fox comes from Cherokee, Lakota, Blackfoot and Irish roots. She holds advanced degrees from the University of Arizona, UCSD, Stanford and Mayo Clinic. A psychiatrist and poet, she works with disadvantaged youth. She recently moved to Portland with a Pomeranian-Chihuahua rescue named Bernie, and to prove fairytales come true, married her high school sweetheart.
“Sitting by the fire with Death in a quiet pub on 2nd St.”
Have you ever had a soul-sucking job? I certainly have, even recently.
“The neighbor lied when he said”
A few years ago, I begin challenging myself to include a lie in every poem. This exercise has improved my poetry like nothing else I have ever done, read or tried. No longer bound to narrative, I am free to create and explore the world in new ways. In other words, it frees me to create outside the shadow of my (at times punitive) superego. My prompt for myself, in creating this poem, was to write a poem entirely made of lies. (At the time, I wasn’t married). A woman in my critique group assumed it was entirely autobiographical and commented that she found it most disturbing and overly graphic.
“Poem about the bottle blonde ex who stole your dog”
I wrote this after Adrian C. Louis, a poet I admire who passed away in 2018. I’ve found much delight in his use of humor and sarcasm, as well as his keen sociocultural observation.
I was particularly moved by his poem, “This Is the time of Grasshoppers and All That I See Is Dying,” wherein he expresses his love for his wife, who was ill at the time and subsequently passed away. In the initial two lines of the 10th stanza, he writes, “Poverty and boredom/made me cruel early on.” This poem seemed to be in conversation with some of his earlier more acerbic work.
Later in his career, as his poetry deepened and became more vulnerable, he continued to retain his wonderful edginess and humor. So my challenge for myself, in producing this poem, was to write about a loved one and use the emotional depth that is evident in his later work, but constrain it within the linear structure of some of his earlier work, and to include humor and sarcasm.