Martha Silano


Glennray Tutor

Circle

(after a painting by Jackson Pollock)

She wonders what would it feel like
being a snake. Under which rock

would she hide, which dead branch,
on a hot day, would cool her? Because

in this life she is harmless, in the snake
life she’d like to be fanged and forked,

with a venerable rattle. Snakes are known
to gather in tight bunches; they are also

many-colored. Although she admires
its smoothness, she would not want to be

a rosy boa; she’d rather be a smeary blue,
yellow and orange striped. Sometimes life

hands you a plate of vipers. If that happens,
pretend someone’s given you a rainbow-

patterned afghan. Sometimes the deck
you’re on is slippery, slithered. When

every card you’re holding is a serpent,
be patient as they morph to frogs and fish.

Easy as Pie

they say. Was anything ever? I Can Make That!
the craft book screams in green, red, blue,
bright and jolly yellow, while we struggle

through the steps for making Eensy Weensy People
from twist-ties, yarn unraveling from the head, the feet,
their tiny waists, googly-eyes ungluing, going south;

and speaking of pies, ours always sink, the pan
too big or else a kid repeatedly ramming
his remote-control Land Rover into the oven.

Beside the illustrious pumpkin, the stately
Coconut Crème, our sad cherry
like a wan school girl who’s taken a short cut,

lost her way, considers crossing the railroad tracks
rather than retrace her steps (or if noticed
“Oh, a tart!”—despite the circular tin, the lattice-top).

Or should we say except for Sherry Derigotis
who grew up surrounded by pie-makers,
not only mother and grandmother but uncles too,

an unprecedented ease with flour and lard,
like the sister who knocks off,
in a couple hours, a pair of thick wool socks.

Forms the dough into flaky, flawless strips,
whereas for us the trip to deposit a check’s
a closed branch, a half-hour drive further south,

the blinkers mysteriously conking out
so we’re idling at 167th & Henderson,
simulating the intermittent flashing, pushing

the lever up and down, trying our best
to replace confoundedness
with a new-found regard for things that happen

without our will—lungs when we’re asking the 14th time
where’s your coat? Heart while the husband explains
the pot scrubber always lays sideways.

Schadenfreude

When the trampoline showed up unannounced,
I got giddy when your big toe kept finding

the stitching’s gaps. When you lose the James Beard Award,
10,000 teaspoons short of the Clafuti Galaxy, it isn’t a reach

to guffaw. Paprika, in fact, has always been a favorite,
especially when it’s simmering in a soup of tarnished trophies.

I’m happy when Jupiter’s storms sputter out; I’m happy
when the cowboy loses his bowlegged gait, trades in

his chaps for khakis. I hope your gumption’s out of gas,
broken down on the side of Sad Sack Road; I hope

your razzle dazzle’s fizzled, your best broomstick
parked in the closet. When your last ex settles down

in Texas, that’s my cue to smile. When your ball lands
in a trap, I pickpocket the shiny tee, work it like a toothpick.

Inscribed on my gravestone: loved every minute of watching
your win-win go double loss, your happy horseshoe morphing

to a hex.

Poem in French

After Paul Hoover

I have one son and two wishes.
One is the kind you blow out.

I have one bad dream,
two cups for my morning tea.

Once I sat on a beach, the Siuslaw
slamming the Pacific, twice I rode

a silent, silent boat. I had never before
been two people: my outbursts, my longings,

his train pulling away: A bientot!
I have two thoughts and one of them is ugly.

At night I’m a thorn in your thorny side,
two feathers sticking sideways

from a hummingbird’s glowing gorget.

–from Blue Positive

Made Pure By Her Intercession

Because no one could locate her file.
Because sometimes it was thick

like the abdomen of a moth, thin
like a golden-crowned kinglet’s thin song.

Because, O gate of the saints, God elected her
with table divine. Because a stranger brought the key,

the path to the Tadpole Galaxy, a fire pit
of rain. Because the credenza was her pillar

of clouds, her stapler a star of the wave.
Because there was glitter, a Big Bang, a backward slant,

a blue dish blooming with soon-to-be-struck matches.
Because she wouldn’t crawl through the big bay window

of bicker. O light of the grave! O hope of the guilty!
Even if she wasn’t the brightest star

in Coma Berenices’ wild hair cluster
she gulped down the welcome;

her brutal found a home on a diadem.

–from The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception (forthcoming in 2011)

Martha Silano’s books are Blue Positive (Steel Toe Books, 2006), What the Truth Tastes (Nightshade Press, 1999), and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception (Saturnalia Books, forthcoming 2011). Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Cincinnati Review, Paris Review, Poetry Daily, TriQuarterly, AGNI, The Best American Poetry 2009, and elsewhere. Martha has been awarded grants and fellowships from Washington State Artist Trust, Seattle 4-Culture, the Arizona Poetry Center, and the Millay Colony for the Arts, among others. She teaches at Bellevue College.

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Martha Silano at Steel Toe Books

Martha Silano at Saturnalia Books