Scratch and Peck Life
I am a morsel grabber:
the hen who pecks the ground,
the dog underfoot at dinnertime,
the crawling baby reaching
for the lint she puts in her mouth.
I grab every morsel you toss my way
to make my meals. Sometimes I go
hungry for a very long time.
A glance in a parking lot feeds me for weeks.
A note, months.
The last scrap, your boring
green-eyed gaze across a table,
your self-conscious grin,
could last another thirty years if necessary.
I'll chew it like a tasteless cud.
I'll stroke it like a lovey,
take it to my grave,
gray and threadbare,
some hopeless relic
I clutch instead of you.
Picture of a Boy-Man, 1982
My heart prances in its narrow stall
To see him slouched against a carrel wall:
One eyebrow raised over stabbing blue;
His fingers, idle on the guitar, loosely
Wait for his direction.
A chord, then music, all of him
Sure and ready for what comes next
When iron-on Dylan seems to murmur from his chest:
You can't be wise and in love at the same time,
Chaos is a friend of mine.
The Right Words in the Right Order
I have to believe they're out there somewhere.
That they can find each other and organize themselves into
what I've been trying to say.
But so far, no.
So far language is only
Words continue to bounce around
black, and blue, or red
Ariel, Times New Roman, Garamond,
settling into coherence
then uncombining, self-destructing.
I swat at them.
I chase after them
try to step on them and pin them down
like sheets from a scattered folder on a windy day.
But a breeze pushes them out ahead of me
Or they drift off just out of grasp,
slip through my fingers and disappear.
Sharon Reddick practices law in Tennessee. She has been an invited reader at poetry events in and around Nashville, where she lives with her husband, son, and a dog who thinks he's a cat.