Sample Poems by Susan Oringel
The grinder was sculpted yellow metal with a
and black rubber feet that stuck to the counter.
fried up the livers and onions in the frying pan with
chicken fat that
spat and she boiled eggs in her mother’s
little gray saucepan. The
bloody livers pooled into muddy lumps
and the onions became gilded with
ridges of brown and black.
Grinding was my favorite part: eggs, onions,
would emerge from the holes, yellow, white, and
worms, which Mom would mash with garlic, mayonnaise, salt.
liked to crank the grinder and make the worms wiggle out:
could eat! Disgusting! Delicious.
I love alliteration’s tricky licks and the
of assonance–time to relax–delicious
fricatives and glottal
stops. The blunt
flat hammers of stab
Anglo-Saxons really knew their,
er, stuff, and the polysyllabic
aren’t too shabby. But rhyme
that chimes, Ay, ay, ay,
subtlety, puhleez! And it
amuses me how love and loathe
are close, in sound, anyway,
how “olive juice” said to someone
a room sounds like, “I love you.”
Try it. And no matter how
says my full first name, it always
sounds like Mother
My Miloz Dream...how difficult it is to remain just
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, and
invisible guests come in and out at will —Czeslaw
She left—the former owner—but left
junk cars and
lumber on the lawn,
ballgowns and dishes dispersed
and the woodstove
with incense burning.
The doors swung open to all her
they didn’t need keys
and came to chat about the good old
She even left a daughter, my old self,
a surly girl who
whined each time I tried
to make it my own home. And I whined
I bought this place,
gravely, I was wrong.
A country house on a hill, acreage,
intended escape, but this was a way station
for neighbors; a tiny
urban ghetto nestled close,
armies of boys wheeled around on
men in fatigues with guns darted through streets:
sounds of breaking glass.
Safe, safe, I muttered, shooing neighbors
I rammed an old oak table against the kitchen door,
wooden chairs. Then ran and shoved the sofa
behind the front, a bureau
stuffed with keepsakes
in front of that. By sunset I’d hammered shut
all the windows, when I heard the knock.
An elderly male voice,
accented and gentle,
asked me to let him in. I stood transfixed;
found the one door I’d forgotten. Entered
in a long gray coat, kissed
my forehead, and said,Yes, it’s difficult, those guests—Still, it’s
We never baked Christmas cookies but once:
mother grabbed the rolling pin we’d thumped
on her pink Formica counter
dotted with golden
stars, her Nice Clean Kitchen!
in sticky dunes, the rainbow sugars, colored
swirling, her words like punctuating fists,
this time, words
only. The cookies burned, of course,
the snowmen, bells, and sad,
But years later, the first night I babysat
the backyard neighbors’ kids, was it a warm spring night?
I opened the
door—first sin—the dog sprang out
and I panicked, called my mother and
she showed up
in housecoat and curlers, she, mortally afraid
or anything that walked on fours,
she rounded up that big gray barking
in the dark, who knows how?
And she was