First-Marriage Vows

Words aren't what they say
Proclamations of love
can't put their tentacles around
my shoulders
Jagged terrain, your words
Easy to cut myself
rolling them around
in my memory
Too long between auditory
love lessons
Too many tardies
Low-priority return calls
Maybe a faulty answering machine
Sloppy receptionist
Or maybe I see exaggerations
That are lies in disguise
You a snake charmer
coiled like the telephone cord
you use to hypnotize me
from other parts of the world
A smooth talker selling ice for freezers
Your articulation is letter perfect
Action not your faithful dog
Words are cheap
Follow-through requires wealth you
don't possess
Trust drowns in your well of words
Dependability dies a verbal death
And I won't buy your ice either

Cat in an Empty Nest

He comes when my last
daughter leaves for college
A two-pound package
from the Himalayas
Paul Newman's eyes
Politically incorrect fur coat
The voice of an oboe
Undeniably needy
As am I
He laps up baby talk
All my mother smother
A symbiotic pair
Only I can feed him
Groom him
Medicate him
I glow with pride
In return he nuzzles
Lap dances into my void
I carry him bottom-side-up
in my arms
Cradle comfort
At night he's four live pounds
sleeping on my belly
While I have pregnant dreams
He follows from room to room
expecting entertainment
He gets it all
Discipline too
For climbing the Christmas tree
Licking the butter
Internally examining the piano
Shredding my latest blueprint
At six pounds we take excursions
To a nursing home where
strangers say he's beautiful
As he hides in their pillowcases
To the vet for shots
Camaraderie with other mothers
We talk toilet training
Cat videos
We brag
One prodigy covers a cat calendar
Another is descended from Morris
Mine covers emptiness
And is descended from me
Eight pounds takes me away
A two-week return
A mad cat
Our first fight
He gives me silent treatment
Then middle-of-the-night
oboe squawks
Then misguided affection
He doesn't give mother love
Knows another kind
Instincts uprooted from
the Himalayas
He mounts my arm
I substitute a stuffed animal
Happy there's no
great-aunt visitor
He performs his sterile welcome-
home ceremony on the kitchen table
I tell him it's okay
It won't cause blindness
I catnip him to sleep
At ten pounds he takes his own trips
Leaves me for mice
Sometimes prowls all night
I fret
He comes home for breakfasts
My daughter comes home
for the summer
She's glad I have a cat

Weather Woman

Hell couldn't burn any redder
than this hot flash
that explodes from my epicenter
A volcanic eruption
inflaming my face
An embering crimson coal
Hot lava oozing every body boundary
I sit weak with loss of control
and shame at the timing
Always inappropriate
Knowing well that
nature's fire department follows
Built-in alarm triggers oceanic torrents
Waves of salt water flood my shores
Silk underwear soaks
Cotton clothes cling
to my saturated shell
Now shivering in deep-sea cold
Roaring for dry weather
that leaves me parched, dehydrated
Desirous of prevention and compassion
"Wear lighter clothes," says my husband
When only running naked
in the backyard will do
An artificial-estrogen-pumped friend
says to open a window
Never needed as much as a Chinook herself
Keep away, menopausally moronic irritations
Let me have the calm that follows a
natural disaster
It'll be short-lived
Another hot flash forecasted
any time now

Homecoming Parade

Months of dieting, mincing meals
Last minute hair coloring
and teeth whitening
disguise divorce, drunkenness
family dysfunction
and anti-depressants
Thirty-three scattered classmates
collectively comparing Christmas letter lies
Thirty-seven years surface shown
like the new outfits they wear
Fear of exposure camouflaged
by Calvin Klein and Levi Strauss
Small town Montana's fashion statement
soon worn threadbare
with point-blank questions
and reluctant replies
that relax into honest answers
Truths revealed by youthful bonds
Unconditional acceptance wrapping
itself around inflicted wounds
that knit fabric back together
Mending impossible
in city support groups with strangers
Healed in a way that won't happen again
until the next high school reunion
when the progression marches once more

© Ellaraine Lockie

The first three poems above are from Ellaraine's chapbook, "Midlife Muse," (Poetry Forum) and the last one, "Homecoming Parade," is from her chapbook, "Crossing the Center Line" (Sweet Annie Press).

Bio: My poetry has appeared in journals, anthologies, magazines and broadsheets in the U. S. Canada, England, Ireland and Greece. Six of my poems were nominated in 2002 and one in 2003 for Pushcart Prizes, and I have received a couple hundred poetry awards. The above-mentioned chapbook, Midlife Muse, won Poetry Forum's annual chapbook contest and was published there in 2000. Also, two chapbooks have recently been released: Coloring Outside the Lines by the Plowman (Canada) and the above-mentioned Crossing the Center Line by Sweet Annie Press.

In addition to poetry, I write nonfiction books, magazine articles/columns and children's stories. My books are: All Because of a Button: Folklore, Fact and Fiction, St. Johann Press and The Gourmet Paper Maker, Creative Publications (U. S.) and Collins and Brown (England). The Low-Lactose Kitchen Companion is forthcoming in 2004.