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Month: September 2011

While You Turn My Mother Into Your Handbag

You trade the sun

for sudden moons –

the reflections
on your shovel


into soil and otter.

In the moment
you kneel,

speculations rise
like glass

from your skin.

The shine of diamond –

crows plant themselves

in the place
of violets

blacken the earth.

(That soft break

from violet to

I learned what it meant
for words to sound
sexual –

sulk and sea,



Carrie Oeding: Reading at 7pm at IU South Bend

Those Women Are Laughing

Sorry Susanna,
we’ve already worn the red dress
tight, yes, without a slip,
once with the zipper broken,
to a wedding and to our birthday,
where, yes, we ate the cake with our hands.
We ate the dress.
We wore it as if we had a secret,
over and over and Friday and Sunday,
until, silly Susanna, there never was a dress.

Sorry, we’ve already demanded
the cake and the gun and the empty room.
But go ahead and say it
if you think you can pretend.
We’ve always been loud.

Sorry Susanna,
we’ve already slept with him, each one of us,
and told him, “There won’t be anyone
‘like me,’ ‘like me,’ ‘like me,’”
and walked away refusing to make him better,
you’re not the first one. Yes,
aren’t we just something.

Do you whisper, I can do this better,
Susanna? Funny how we knew that.
We’ve already done better.
We’ve already seen you, Susanna.
Yes, and? We see you.

But I’m different.
Yep, we’ve said that. Made that true. It is true.

Oh, we’ve done that too, yes,
been true, been right, been dead once or twice,
yes we’ve even died and come back
in the red dress they buried us in.

Yes, go if you want.
We’ll understand, we already do.
We are loud, we can be.
That is nothing new.
We realize how funny we are, how loud, how we talk
sleep, wash, aim.
Or, yes you can stay and wait and laugh. What comes
is always better than before, sure.
Someone will come who can make us laugh.
It’s a shame she will be just like you, like you, like you.

Apology to Meditation

The meditation teacher said he wants to leave you alone with me. There should be no third party between me and “existence.”

The meditation teacher said I would soon understand the nature of the mind rather than fight with it. He winked at me then, a bit creepy. I’ll be honest, he really didn’t, but it’s my nature to say quick things to try and make it interesting. Winking is totally predictable.

My friend Jen would like to get to know you because she wants to stay in the moment.

I don’t want to get into it with her, but there could be a moment of a bright autumn tree, or a bright autumn tree that leads me to notice crows, cats, dents in my car, cars on my cat, leaves shaped like cats, the world is cruel. And then it’s not– bright autumn trees that come alive and wink. Or trees which then, suddenly, suddenly suddenly I notice then what happens next? Looking looking where’s the moment I’m in? Bright autumn trees that don’t notice me.

I’m not going back to class to find out how to look at a leaf or who really winked.

I got to know someone once and it led to third parties.

Dear bright autumn trees, surprise me.

Dear meditation, I’m sorry, I know I am getting you all wrong– but now you know how a person can feel and why they wouldn’t want to let that go.

Neighbor Curse

Thanks for never using the garden tools
I loaned you, which you never returned.
I’ve been watching.
You won’t have any tomatoes this summer.

Thanks for being so nice to my dog.
I saw you slip her treats
so one of us would like you.

Thanks for having no tomatoes this summer.
I would’ve trained my dog to eat them.

Even though you don’t have a wife
for my wife to know, thanks
for getting to know my wife.
I know you’ll try to have her
slip off her useless garden clogs
and walk a little softer on your floors.

A lot, a lot of thanks–
I won’t have any tomatoes this summer.

Thank you– for I trust myself. I had a hunch about you,
and loaned you the garden tools
so you’d prove me right.

When the Neighborhood’s Asleep

He doesn’t look up
because he can’t without thinking
those stars,
they’re going to fall.
But when he walks through the neighborhood
he likes to know they’re up there,
and it’s possibly they could plummet,
but more possible if
he were to look.

A Refrain, Sung Once, To Herself

One day, I worry, you will tell me
everything I’ve told you.

What do you have to say for yourself?


Did you think I wouldn’t be listening?

I don’t know.

There is a moon born every time I say alone
and tonight its light has left me sore.
I can see my breath, and I wonder about everything–
how I’m going to get home,
how to answer What’s your story?
how to ask you to walk with me.

“Listen, listen,” the moon, my polished child, says, “On your knees.”
I put my ear to the road.
I cut my hand on street glass.
I hear a sigh, I hear a step, I see you
ignoring the shadows, walking towards me.
I couldn’t say just anything.


all from Carrie Oeding’s Our List of Solutions, 42 Miles Press, 2011.


The Last Thing He Says Before His Death: “When You Get Home, I’m Sorry.”

The bed was wet
with spilled lilies –

white pouring

into the stem
like sickness.

You didn’t find a man in the rafters.

You didn’t expect a horse – hung

like an ornament

in the barn
next to a water-logged trailer.

What you wanted to see
was a carousel,

filled with dead leaves,
skeletal horses –

brown eyes
like his eyes –

teeth grinning from red lips.

Then the barn
and the tent

the line of ceramic elephants

would make sense

beneath the tree – the pruning body

the sea of cockroaches.


The Girl Leaps into the Field as if to Burst Open like a Cloud

A valley of
broken houses – inside

a woman
who collected

rooms –

the extensions filled with


and moons.


Surrounded with the shadow
of mirrors, she began to


her daughter –

turned her

her hair

through the head
of a needle

one strand

at a time.

The daughter watched.

A sheen crossing

her hair –

the shine
of the needle.


Unlike This Bed of Soft Tendrils

The first time you heard an ambulance, you
stopped dreaming – stopped dreaming of such romantic

inversions – like the hum of a whale,
the cactus flower

you turned into. A mother carries
the last basket of apples

from the garden and says they belong to you
(like ribbon and twine)

like music you never listened to.
You go wandering down someone else’s path

and start believing in God again.
As though He’s more than a shadow,

as though He has more to offer you
than a piano. Materialized –

like your father, He’s learned to sleep

on a bed of cactus leaves,
turning the wool from the barn

into soft blue blankets
that reminded you of water.

You turned away from the shape of a woman.
You learned when you were young

that you had a fear for scarecrows,
their faces grimy with rain water

all too like the reflection of something drowned
in the river. Like a fish. A lake of rafts.

You imagine a mother
leading her children down

into the current
swept away like

small white flags.