Jul/Aug 2018 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Judy Kaber

Image courtesy of British Library Photostream

Image courtesy of British Library Photostream


The dead shrew flips from cat's mouth
to air, able now to fly without feathers,

to borrow bird's dip and land anew
among brittle leaves. Nothing lost

except one minor life that once foraged
for seeds, small sharp ears that guarded

against prey, body burrowing in mottled earth.
In the house the phone rings, stranger

on the other end of long black wire,
wanting something from me that is not

anywhere in the outside world, in sun,
scattered pine cones, tumble of stream.

Where can a shrew hide? I become
mole tunnel, rotted log, bent grass path,

a long measure of song that can be
followed like stones across quick water.


Lucky at Cards

You hold your pain captive in the body of the phone
          like a cockatoo banging against the bars,

its neck stretched, beak snapping at your ears,
          each word you hear a tug on a bloody lobe,

until you want to clap your hands over them, shut away
          the squawking smell of a disintegrating marriage.

You keep poking at the pain like a man might poke a black bear
          with a stick, and after each jab it gets more savage, growling

as if to strip your skin away, to leave sinew and bones,
          to suck away all the juice that once was your love.

At the table playing cards, you sit with arms pulled tight to your side,
          giving nothing away, your face bulldozed, lost in scrap heap of grief.

Your lips, a concrete border in your mouth, borrow yesterday's phrases,
          as you toss nickels and dimes in the pot.


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