Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

The Widow Battinelli

June 19, 2017


Father Lucarelli consoles me, my speech
falters. Black veiled ladies bring by a meal,

offer to pray with me for his soul, to beseech
God. I tear their prayer card as I kneel

next to Cosmo’s photograph on a pool of lace.
At night, I open the urn by the bed,

scoop cold ashes to smooth across my face.
Our cat circles and cries for the dead,

the familiar lap in the empty chair.
Cosmo’s silver watch beats distressed,

the weight of sixty years I bear.
Coarse links chafe against my breast.

Pregare Dio!” the black veils drone.
My faith gone dry as ash and bone.


Copyright © 2017 by Alvera Lisa Smetzer

Angel of Strength - photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

Strength – photo by Vera Lisa Smetzer

I Leave at Dusk under Threat of Rain

June 4, 2017


Behind me, the disordered duplex,
our tiny yard, its iron fence.
And my wife, who is also leaving,
for someplace we have never been
and will never be together.

Walking out is free air and adventure.
Only when my feet stop am I afraid.

I am catching the bus to my future.
Later, sitting for days as the bus
moves through rain and sun and rain,
my eyes bump down rows of wary faces,
our lips pursed, sour as our feet.


Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

Swimmers, Acrylic Painting on wood by Mike Smetzer

Swimmers, Acrylic Painting on wood by Mike Smetzer

Mr. Richards and Cora

May 26, 2017


A Sunday couple in a front pew.
Mr. Richards sat full face to the sermon,
aware of the girls batting eyelashes
toward his designer collars,
his careful graying hair. He walked
among us, distant and slightly amused.
Cora paled beside him, forgotten,
like some pressed flower,
like a plaque honoring a career goal
he once set and met.

With colleagues at his club,
he tasted the steward’s Beaujolais,
the chef’s steak bordelaise,
its flavor rich from the marinade,
Crème brûlée with his evening coffee.
In the kitchen at home she
crumbled cornbread into beans,
her mother’s scarf tightened
around her forehead
like a truss.

When Cora visited his office,
Mr. Richards asked her to type.
She settled in, like an oyster
growing pearls. She opened
the clogged arteries of his files,
warmed his clerks and his clients
to smiles. Now she is the candle
at his corporate lunch,
its honey glow, the halo
he always wanted for his crown.


Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

Swimmers, painting by Mike Smetzer

Kitchenette with Cable

May 17, 2017


All night, mindful and listening,
I kneel before the mute TV’s light,
contemplating the snow between channels,
my lips reciting the mantra of my Frigidaire.
Three states away, you are indexing
ten years of your diaries for my sins,
cropping my image from family albums,
stacking all I left for the Salvation van.

Passing trucks tremble my walls to ecstasy.
Oh look outside!
Illuminated waste bins wake up enlightened,
beneath long-necked halogen lights,
hopeful young Buddhas, shining compassion!
compassion! compassion!
down dreary interstate byways.

I know I failed. I am sorry!
I want to come home!
I know you know I will fail again.
The egoist sage Yang Chu
would not pluck a hair
to save his troubled world.
I offer all my hair to you tonight
in this kitchenette with cable.

Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

Zeke & Jezzy Buy Mother’s and Father’s Day Gifts

May 14, 2017

A couple days ago Uncle Ezekiel decided to give his wife Jezebella some sipping whisky for Mother’s Day. She don’t drink whisky, but Aunt Jezzy tells folks: “When old Zeke falls asleep early and stops badgering me, that’s the sweetest gift I ever get in life.” So he figured she’d be happy.

Today I got a phone call from Zeke. Aunt Jezzy had looked at the whisky awhile and then she’d looked at Zeke awhile. “Why thank you, Zeke.” Then she sat back in her chair. “You know, I’ve been thinking about what a wife can do for a husband like you. I think I’ve now decided what to give you for Father’s Day. It’s a brand-new, expensive suit.”

“Now Jezzy! I haven’t worn a suit but once in my life and that was when we got married. And I borrowed that one.”

“Well, you’ll need a suit to wear when they lay you to rest. And you can’t borrow it.”

“No, I guess not.”

“I’ve decided on the suit men wear in the Forest Service. I think you’ll be more comfortable in it.”

“What kind of suit do they wear in the Forest Service?”



Copyright © 2017 by Michael B. Smetzer

Six Poems of Change

May 4, 2010
Previously unpublished and revised poems Copyright © 2010 by Michael Smetzer


The Oak and the Sassafras
The girl pronounced him an oak,
herself a mitten tree,
supple under his strong limbs.
Her red hair growing up
into his iron gray.
Now fire burns in his snow;
dead limbs creak on her crown.

(first published in Mostly Maine)


Second Wife

The bride greets her husband’s children
at their door.
The husband hands each child a lily.
He hands the bride hard candy.
He folds his arms as they exchange
these gifts.
The wife will make dinner
while the children play.
The children will wash dishes
while the wife reads.

(first published in Mostly Maine)


Two Approaches to the Lake
At sunrise
the last snow withdraws its fog
into the fissures
and braces among the rocks.
In the lake below,
River falls from sky
and boils in the pool.
Brown sinews slip through rocks
and foam.
sunflames shudder
on deep water.
A skiff sets out
along the shore.

(first published in Kennebec)


Her Brother’s Debt
Owing his widowed foreman a great debt,
the brother brought his sister overseas.
She came mute, her thoughts folded
     in her bags.
At breakfast she listened like a table
     to their sounds.
She married with his dishes in the sink.
She has unleashed the foreman’s toddler
     from the line.
She has taught the foreman’s son to sing,
his oldest daughter to braid her hair,
and the foreman to snore gently
through her dreams.

(first published in Chants)


The Unwanted Arrival
His mother comes to stay,
her faith a mountain in his rooms.
He shuts his vices in the closet,
and they talk of herbs.
Sundays and Wednesdays
her candles burn at church.
Fridays and Saturdays
his fires flame through bars.


Rising Above
She admits them but
opens no liquor.
Three years they’ve been
digging her grave.
Now her thoughts are
thunder and rain.
Their heads are old
snags in her river.
She rises above 
and floats free.
She will row on her
waters to the sea.