Marji's Poems

all © Marji Hazen 1955-1999
 

Carnival

Rides, sparkle lights and bright paint. Carousel
Prance proudly singing reedy golden songs.

teddy bears reflect in eyes of little
girls arms too weak aim unsure quarters pass
from hand to hand to hand but not many
not enough the carnival's glitter is only tinsel
the summer is cruel  the rain is too long too oftenoften
moistens glue that holds silver to fingers
dims the eager eye-eyes of little girls
finds the chinks in canvas pinches stomachs
of carnival men and women makes eyes
sharp eager to spot the mark the spender
weary of the looklooker the tightwad
thank God for sun and curse storms' misery
destroying storm the usurer the thief

Glitter, carnival, shine, sing, whirl and dance,
Contrive new ways to entertain, amuse

come sucker spendspendspendspend your silver
see the cobra ride the whip guess your weight
eat the cotton candy apples caramel
corn play the games but do not win oh no
do not win for quarters are few so few
and it takes many quarters to pay for
a panda tent space lights rain damage rust
dust road tax gasoline food funeral

Smile and sparkle, patient ones, hungry ones,
So close to end of season weary ones,

sawdust souls, highway hawkers who come and
go leaving not a sign that they have been
or are now or ever will be again.

Marji Hazen, August 1960
 

Clear Lake Trilogy

I
   know the set of suns and see
the morning still and silver rivers
   find encouched in valleys born
of ice inlaid with sounds of birds and
    splashings up of gilded fish
embrace the wonder of this early
   unfamiliar day and need
no bitter herb to conjure visions
   for what ought to be is here.

II
trees bled black rain
    last night
wild geese honked south
    ere light
brought Clear Lake guns
    blood skies
bird full for lead

III
the sound of fresh and frying fish
counterpoints the withered simmerings
   of wry and bent old men
   with dry bones and drier wits
their words falling out for lack of teeth
   as they ruminate memorial cuds
   of loves not loved

Marji Hazen, 1961
 

Observers

We wait in darkness made of blazing suns,
Our home a glowing mote far down the sky
While 'neath our watching eyes a people goes
All unaware that we're compelled to try
Our very tender souls on such a rack
As watching them through evolution plod
Creating terrors for themselves as we
Remind ourselves that we must not play God.

Marji Hazen, 1958
 

Ellen

My cousin Ellen saw no love at all
In a world where cancer killed her father
When she was twelve, and where, at seventeen,
Her mother had her unborn son removed
Like a cyst though Ellen pled for his life
and for her own love of the very young
And inconvenient father of the child.

Mother chose good schools and prestige degrees
So Ellen's perfect beauty might deny
That Daddy was a gambler and well-liked
By shady characters until he died
Leaving nothing but the shame, deny that
Hoodlums raised the money to feed and clothe
The bereft family. At thirty, perfect,
Ellen, Ph.D., Killed herself with pills.

Marji Hazen 27 January 1983
 

No Brown Quail

No brown quail rustles fencerows here.
   No puff-tailed rabbit bounds away.
This is the bare time of the year.

The trees are skeletons, austere
   Above the cast-off leaves half clay.
No brown quail rustles fencerows here.

About the snow-hid stubble deer
    Graze quietly on what they may.
This is the bare time of the year.

Foxes quarry through fen and mere
   Finding only winter's decay.
No brown quail rustles fencerows here.

A squirrel noses an empty shell
   unwary; he becomes owl's prey.
This is the bare time of the year.

A moth waits spring in silken cell
   Hid by a post and weathered gray.
No brown quail rustles fencerows here.
This is the bare time of the year.

Marji Hazen 1962
 

End of an Era

This is my last undisciplined poem.
Henceforward I'm reverting to form
Scholarly punctuation
No more inexplicable asides
      set way out on the end
                                          of
                                              a
                                                   disconnected line
yes like that
for I have grown beyond such juvenile devices
as madcap literary irresponsibility

                       t
                   o      i
               m            o
            e                    n            formlessness
                                       a
                                            l

the too personal soul-searching
non-rhyme
non-form
nonsense

My poetry will contain only the editorial we
and will be gorgeously universal in its impersonality.
I vow
               hear this, now, World,
to write
                     from this day forward
                                                                 only limericks.

Marji Hazen 1969
 

Farm Sale

The auctioneer's here, Joe.
He's wanting to know
If the boys'll lead out
the stock to show
Or if he'd ought to auction
it off right in the barn.

And where's the food trailer
supposed to set up?
Is ann coming early
to get the last pup?
He says he can sell it
for a dollar or two.
Are the buildings unlocked
so the buyers can go through?

And are we going to stay
to watch through the sale?
He'd get a better price
for this truck if you'd nail
a board on the back
to look like a tailgate.
Is the sheriff here yet?
says he's always some late.

I wonder if the new folks
will take care of the trees.
Will they keep the yard swing there
just where there's a breeze?
Remember when Kenny brought me that bush
of bleeding heart flowers for Mother's Day?
It looked so nice against the house.
We'd just painted it -- gray.

The kids' old pony,
hope he gets a good home
with kids not too heavy
and a pasture to roam.

I used to plan, Joe, that when we were old
we'd sit in the yard here and look at the polled
herefords agrazing out there it the pasture.
But things as they are, guess it's goo much to ask for.

Marji Hazen, April 1985
 

Not Your Love

If this were love, I'd love you true, and I would love you well,
And I would be here by your side though this be very Hell.
But I would not own you, nor would I bind you fast,
Yet I would be here loving you when time and time had passed.

If you must have the chains and claims that owners cast about,
And you must needs report to me each time that you go out,
And you expect I'll ask of you whenever you come in,
"My dear, do come and tell to me just where it is you've been,"

And if you think I leave you free because I do not care,
And if you doubt my love because it seems I do not share
Every hour of every day, demanding all of you for me,
Then my love is not the kind will keep you company.

I thought at first, when love was new, you'd be my life's delight.
But if you must be owned and curbed, then let it be your plight.
I give you leave, indeed abet, your search for such a fate.
But plague me not with this desire. I cannot bear the weight

Of jealousy, mistrust, and pain that such a love would bring.
The love I seek is gentle, kind, and most, enabling.
Love should not feel as this one feels, a burden, misery.
I'm not your love for love would bring much sweeter days to me.

Marji Hazen, April 1988
 

Commercial

Just like mink'll never wrinkle.
Any sink'll do to wash it.
And of course it quickly dries
And smoothly lies.
Unlike leaves, it never breathes,
You can bet you're gonna sweat
If your shirt and vest are polyester.
Drip-dry or not, you'll wish
You'd gotten cotton.

Marji Hazen, 1981
 

Phoenix Expedition

You, Child of Light, stood in the path and barred
My way with smiles. old friend, how long as time
Turns have we been apart? Now here you are,
Had I walked, as I thought to, that other
Way, there would not have been this golden day,
This day when life ran sweetly. You were light
That waited in my way that I must pause
In that great rush to where it is I go
Amazed at all your rainbows glowing bright
In city shade, glad to give some hours
To learning who you are and why you are here
Now and whether you are a message or a
medium, a question or an answer,
Mage or morningchild, That quiet island
Of harps and words made peace with reticence
And sent us kindly into afternoon
So far away that distant friends bespoke
Us longing for a place and time lost now.
We gave each other gifts and promises
of other days and farewells lingering.
Even with you gone, I am not bereft
For I hear you in the harpsong, speaking
Yet the words your sou1 spoke with its radiance.

Marji Hazen, March 1986
 

THE GOOD LIFE

Dominating conversation
In some circles in this nation
Is the notion that the singles have the life of Riley here,
They got cars and condos, stereos,
Party invites, lots of clothes,
Love affairs uncountable, and egg in all their beer.

That's true of some I've heard of,
But patently absurd of
Most of my friends, most of their friends, and those that live next door,
We're paying rent that's ghastly
For apartments that were lastly
The abodes of welfare mothers who have moved out to The Shore.

Our cars are often dying
And we're exhausted now from trying
To commute to work while moonlighting to pay for the repairs,
Also our pets need shots and num'rous bugs
Have been brought in on someone's rugs
And wander freely through the building via air ducts and the stairs.

How warmly we remember
Several years ago December
When we lived at home and Mother ironed shirts and made the beds.
Now here we are a-drinking
Without censure while we're thinking
How to get the laundry done and still spend Friday night at Ed's.

Middle management's our level
And we try to beat the devil
To seem happy with our lifestyle though to us it's very clear
That only some got cars and condos,
Stereos and lots of clothes,
Love affairs uncountable and egg in all their beer.

The rest have bills and car repairs
And bulbs burned out above the stairs
And windows that need washing, dirty dishes in the sink,
It's a heavy load to carry.
A nice quiet monastery
Could be a very pleasant respite from it, don't you think'

Marji Hazen, 23 January 1984
 

On Diverting the Wages of Sin

to the Coffers of the Righteous

A universal (seems) imperative
stated as declarative
Can drive a conscientious man
to tears and then to drink.
That either/or can get you down,
Warp your sword and rust your crown,
Send you out to Despond Swamp
to founder and to sink.

But any son of royalty
Who recognizes spoils be
The stuff that kings are made on
and to which all fools aspire,
Will snicker-snack his vorpal blade
Across the line. A spade's a spade
Only when exigencies
of moments so require.

Marji Hazen, December 1983
 

FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH

'Twas Schnelker and the borogroves
Did boom and grimble in his teeth,
How Buick were the finances
And the clients grum outgleeth,
"There-there!" the wary therethere bird
Did cry in woe from tree to tree,
But not a there or there could balm
The whimwracked day of Schnel-Cheri
Snicker-snack, the vorpal blade
Hath bent and broke and is no more,
Nor doth the luscious yumyum breeze
Blow soothingly from sea to shore,
Ah, but a wiley Weatherman
Whose Name is Weird Beyond Belief*
Doth promise fairer days shall come**
That tides shall rise and clear the reef***
"Grit your teeth!" the Weatherman
Doth sagely call from tower height****
"The ev'ning shall the tempest calm
And gently bring the rest of night ''
"I cannot grit," cries Schnellinpain,
"The only cure for this is gold,
A crown I crave, but kingdom? No!
All dental signs are stark and cold
And glumberly and wrack and drear
I must now take me to my home home
And bide until tomorrow's here.
*Dewey Peters
**with about 35% accuracy
***Tide tables are about 97% accurate.
****approx. 300 ft.
Marji Hazen, 1/13/84
 

On My Parents Growing Old

I look on age and all the enmity
That lifetimes' disagreements built like walls
Between those two, now standing hand in hand
In time's last blizzard, and me with many
Tens of years yet to live before that storm.
And, lo, the sturdy walls are glass, are air,
Are nothing, less than nothing, memories
Even of the stones that built them are gone.
And all I see are those two old, alone,
Hand- in-hand against age- - the blizzard
That whitens hair and bends joints and tortures
Gnarled bodies, strains old faces with pain
And fear of death that they knew must come-come
Someday, but today? No not today! No!
Tomorrow, perhaps, for me, my lifelong
Love. I'11 go before and make the way safe
Be there holding out my hand when you come
To take away your fear of death." But no
Though hand in hand, each stands all alone now
Trying to be brave to help the other
And I, though I can see so clearly now
How it must end for each of us, cannot
Find one small word, one touch, one comforting,
Kindly act to ease that fearsome winter's
Chill that quakes hands and knees and heads and souls,
Marji Hazen, August, 1982
 

WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL

MY DREAMS WERE OF P-38s AND TROOPS AND DADDY
NOT COMING HOME BECAUSE HIS SHIP WAS SUNK
OR SOME OTHER SAILOR SHOT HIM, KILLED HIM.
BUT DADDY DID COME HOME AND BROUGHT THE BOMB
BLASTED MEMORIES OF HIROSHIMA,
NAGASAKI, DEVASTATION, CHILDREN,
OLD MEN, WOMEN GONE AND BETTER OFF DEAD.
HE SAID THAT WAS THE LAST WAR. REMEMBER
WHY WE FOUGHT AND DON'T LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN,
SO I MARCHED ANGRY WITH THE PICKETS WHEN
THEY TESTED MORE BOMBS AND LOVED MY NEIGHBOR
WITH KING AND DREAMED THE DREAM CASTING OUT FEAR
AND THOUGHT THAT WE HAD WON.

                                                         BUT ALL THAT TIME
THE BOMBS WERE THERE AND HATE REMAINED AND DOGS
WERE BEING TRAINED, BUT MEN WERE NOT AND SO
HERE WE ARE AGAIN, MY BROTHERS, AGAIN
DREAMING OF THE BOMB AND WEEPING WHEN SOME
DEVIL-CHILD REMINDS US OF PAST EVILS
WITH PRESENT ONES AND HOPING THERE WILL BE
THOSE YOUNG AND STRONG AS WE ONCE WERE TO TAKE
THE BANNERS UP AND CRY WITH ONE LOUD VOICE,
"WE SHALL OVERCOME. WE SHALL OVERCOME."
AND THIS TIME, BROTHERS, LET US NOT CEASE 'TIL
BOMBS AND HATE AND ALL SHALL BE OVERCOME.
MARJI HAZEN - 2 JUNE 1982
 

TEMPERING

From iron black and soft and easily
fatigued by stress, from iron lowly, rough
and base, comes steel, hard, bright and strong enough.
But this good steel is not easily made,
melted red to white and back again to
red heat, poured to cool again. The slag heap
grows. The iron changes, silver now instead
of black, steel, yes, but steel as young as babes,
as easily broken as the spirit of
a child. Shaped it must be now, and rolled cold
rolled. Molecules accommodate the shape,
but will not keep it strong until the heat
invigorates with light this newmade thing.
Then quenching puts out the fire. Lit again
by furnace heat, it glows once more, and yet
again is quenched. Such tempering makes strong
the steel in its new shape, and each new shape
must be retempered to attain such strength.
So, we, each time all is made new, must be
tempered once and yet again until we,
strong and bright and shining, are called to serve
whatever purpose has been Planned for us.
Marji Hazen 19 January 1982
 

THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving is the day we all come home
Bringing fruits of summer in our hands
To lay about the bird our sisters stuffed
And set to bake before the sun rose to thaw
The garden ground so Joe could dig potatoes
And the carrots up for Grandma to wash and peel and boil.
Aunts and uncles laughing in the kitchen door
With armloads of fragrant bowls and pans to fill
The sideboard, the back porch cupboard chilled by last night's cold,
The warming ovens; little plates of bonbons
Made by hand by Aunt Marie who couldn't come this year
But sent her love along with special treats the family
Always spoke so highly of, she couldn't bear to disappoint
The children even though Uncle John didn't think she ought
To tax her strength with cooking when she wasn't well.
Aunt Lou with her annual drift of autumn leaves and cat-tails,
Milkweed pods their seeds all blown away, wheat heads dipped in colors,
Straw flowers, Indian corn, bittersweet, a rush basket rudely made
Of reeds she gathered by the river, hung to dry amid the
Schnits and herbs in August, and wove one afternoon when
Geese flew south and frost showed rabbit tracks before
The warmth of Indian summer came to green the grass again.
All the children 'round the table,
The centerpiece arranged as usual by
Esther's big girl, Katy, who'd come home from art school
Bringing Bob that she's been telling us is just a friend
Ever since they met at camp when they were twelve years old,
The dinner set out on the sideboard and a trestle table,
Mothers fixing plates for all the little ones
Who have a table of their own set in the den,
The men trooping in with all their guns and talk of shooting traps
And hunting deer tomorrow to fill the house with
Fresh air smells and wash their hands and take the chairs
we set for them and smile and bow their heads while Uncle Marsh
Gives thanks to God for all His blessings in this year.
After dinner daughters chase their mothers out
To have the kitchen to themselves for talk
And washing up the plates while aunts go outdoors
To see the shooting or admire the yearling colts
Or watch the children playing in the brown field stubble.
Later, when the dinner's settled, pies and cream
Whipped stiff appear upon the sideboard,
Plates filled with pumpkin pie call in the men, the children,
Gather everyone into the kitchen and the Room
Again to share this last Thanksgiving ritual, to say farewell
Before we gather up the empty bowls and stuffed children
And Aunt Lou's lovely gifts, one more of Aunt Marie's confections,
Take loving leave of Grandma and go home.
November 1967



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