Two Poems by Dianne Stepp

The Same Old Sky
anonymous painting, circa 1700’s

Nature’s always making a spectacle
of herself, flaunting her colors—

clouds rolling like Mozart curls
over the trees, that slight wisp of pink
painting an abalone sky–
in this long-ago scene by the river.

No sleight of hand needed
to fish the girl’s cage from the lake,
where she’s been dunked,
naked of course,
to teach her what’s what.

No poppycock magician to make you laugh,
no jester to stand on his head.
Just that fat kid under the elm
lunching on bread and cider,
clapping his hands.

And those two pious old prunes in hats
who pull the girl’s cage to the shore–
They’re not staring, oh no!
At the pale peach of her breasts,
her nipples’ white buds.

Oh God! It could be me in that cage—

always a sucker for a wink,
the click of a few coins on a hungry day.
Even for a hunk of cheese,
I’d have lifted my petticoats,
and run dab smack
into the dead fish of the law.

Oh well, as I say,
it was long ago. But Always
and Ever stain that sky.

Lazy Days

The dog has fleas,
cat too, kitchen faucet
rusted out, sink

clogged in the bathroom,
ice maker fizzled
on the hottest day.

Lucky me, and you too
if you possess such a list.
My laundry gentles

in the breeze, and I sit
with my feet up, the figs
on my tree oozing

sugar. I hear
in Palestine the Israelis
are bulldozing fig orchards

again, and olive groves.
I hear it’s legal.
And necessary for the safety

of their people. But don’t I
recall the Dresden Jew,
Victor Klemperer,

his diaries? There he sits
at a polished table,
his frayed cuffs. Forced

to cede his house.
It was legal. He was
forbidden to keep a cat

anymore, a typewriter
or a car. His rations,
were mainly potatoes.

He didn’t own
a fig orchard, of course.
Or an olive grove.

 

DianneSteppDianne Stepp lives with her husband in southwest Portland, OR on a lush over-sized lot where they raise hens and grow bountiful crops of garlic, beets, spinach, cabbages, figs and more besides. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. Her chapbook, “Half-Moon of Clay” was published by Finishing Line Press.

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