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Sample Poems by Carole Stone



Knowledge


Who is left to remember
Mrs. Wilcox stamping the dates in blue on the card

in its tiny envelope glued in the two books
you could take out for a week?

Who is left to remember
lingering in the dark stacks until closing time

touching the books as if they were parents
who could fill you with knowledge?

Langston Hughes and his dream,
Millay with whom I rode all night on the ferry,

Whitman whose free verse I embraced.
I am left to remember,

me, of the after-school library hours,
who went home to a house without love,

the girl who raised herself
page by page.





Get Up



In Upper Lower Michigan,
across the street from Bootlegger's Restaurant,
at the Bookie Joint Bookstore,
in Frank O' Hara's Lunch Poems,
Lana Turner has collapsed.

It's July 12, ten to nine,
stars coming out like sequins
on Lana's snood, the sun setting
into Lake Michigan, large
as the Atlantic of my childhood,

my father rum running out there on the water,
Uncle Sid taking bets in the attic,
my mother coughing endlessly.
It's good to think that I,
the gangster's daughter, write poetry;

that I am alive after a terrible disease,
that at nearby Interlochen Music School,
my granddaughter Maggie's fingers
ride the great black piano.
No catastrophe in sight.
Is that you Lana, Frank, mother
on the spit of sand lapped so gently?
We love you, get up!




Obituary



Every morning I read the Times obituaries.
First I check ages, how many lived
to their eighties, then, figure
how many years I might have left.
I skip to place of birth, death, parents, education.
Then back to life-stories, as if they could tell
who we are in all our guises.

What shall I say in mine?
That my father was a racketeer,
that my mother stayed awake,
waiting for him to come home.
That they died young.
An aunt and uncle raised me.

Shall I list my degrees,
my books of poetry?
Will there be room to say
that each day I write and re-write
my poems, moving lines
from one stanza to another,
taking out words,
putting them back.



I Who Bring Forth Muffins



I was that four year old in the photo,
legs crossed on a kitchen stool,
my black patent Mary Janes

poking out from my pink dress,
bangs yellow as corn muffins,
banana pulp oozing on my fingers.

Cranberry muffins with cups of sugar
so my mouth won't pucker.
Pumpkin muffins orange

as a July sundown.
Bran muffins,
grain of my middle age.

I read each recipe like a poem.
Small girl that I was
in that Brownie camera photograph,

one day I will be poured out
like batter and bake
in the warm sweet earth.