Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meg Kearney's Home By Now

Meg Kearney not only publishes poetry collections such as An Unkindness of Ravens, but she has also published a novel for teens, and a picture book titled Trouper the Three-Legged Dog, that is due out soon from Scholastic. She’s been featured in Garrison Keillor’s “A Writer’s Almanac” and been in quite a few well-know poetry publications. Meg Kearney’s collection of poems, Home By Now, is published by Four Way Books and is a straightforward and uncompromising look at the realities of life. The poems are hardheaded and clever; I found Meg Kearney’s writing to be a real page-turner. In fact, just about every poem is marked as a poem I’d like to share but I can only reveal a few to you:


My father’s body has ceased to shock me.
His skin runs over his bones like a slow
river, rippling where belly meets hip. We’ve
learned how to hold him: one arm each around
his back, one hand under each thigh; Mom
and I stand on opposite sides of his
bed and, on the count of three, lift him
onto the bedpan. We close our eyes—
Dad, then me. Oh, he pants, it’s so damn cold
as I tell myself I am not the first
daughter to do this. Afterward, Mom pulls
his gown down over the stones of his hips
while I train my eyes on the Gold Toe socks
I’ll later steal, when Mom gives away his suits.

I like this poem’s hard-hitting view of life in a family dealing with fragility and illness. The ending lines reveal that her father doesn’t make it since his clothes are eventually given away but it is the touching move of the daughter to take the socks from which she trained her eyes to look for during the more vulnerable moments that strikes me in the heart.

House For Sale
After the divorce: for P.W.

I buried Saint Joseph headfirst
in the yard. Anointed with perfume,
wrapped in an old handkerchief,

he must have heard my supplications
as I dug the hole, lowered him down,
packed the dirt, begged forgiveness.

Victim of faith or superstition,
Saint Joseph bears the dignity
of mud, the vulgarity of worms,

but this house will not sell. The realtor
flashes his wily grin at the next
newlywed couple; suggests, arching

one eyebrow, the potential
of the spare bedroom. I hide
in my car praying to Saint Joseph

to let some other woman stuff peppers
at the kitchen counter; let that
woman cry out, for whatever reason,

in the bedroom. I even wish her joy
here: garden flowers on the sill,
birthday cake cooling on a rack,

a man in the backyard, building
a swing set. Just make her want this
house, please. Let me dig up

my plastic saint, snap the mud
from his little blanket, and ditch this ring
where dogs are sure to piss.

This poem shows off the anger and bitterness of failed dreams of a woman who must sell her house full of memories, eager to shed the burden and start over. I like that she employs her religious and, perhaps superstitious, beliefs in installing the plastic saint as a hopeful good luck charm in the selling. I think it’s an interesting spin that she even wishes the next couple good luck and happiness, adding depth of character to the woman at the heart of the poem.

Dr. Frankenstein Learns The Mother He Never Met Is Dead

I hunted down love with a bone saw,
a threaded needle between
my teeth. Scavenger of blood
and resemblance, I slaughtered
my siblings for body parts,
vowing, We’ll never be orphans
Then I retreated
to a mother’s dirty work:
sawing, stitching, scanning the sky
for lightning. My creation
was born to disappoint: she is so
unlovable. Now she’s on the lam
again—shrieking, slobbering,
smashing everything.

I love the unusual perspective of this poem, the take on Dr. Frankenstein’s madness and dysfunction within his own family relations, the violence of slaughtering his “siblings for body parts” yet carefully reassembling as though with care when exposed by the line “a mother’s dirty work.” The ending in which his creation is unlovable and acting out is a superb representation of all the actions that came before it, the dysfunction and violence in building such a creature only to have it act in the way it was created to begin with. As for the title, it’s as though the whole point of his creation is as a reaction to his discovery of his mother’s death, what an interesting insight and take on Dr. Frankenstein’s life’s work.

Meg Kearney’s poems are hard-hitting yet tender, and if you enjoyed the poems you’ve seen here, you can purchase this collection for $15.95 (not including shipping & handling) directly from Four Way Books using this link below:


Thanks always for reading, please click in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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