Marilyn Taylor


All three of these poems seemed to lead me to their appropriate forms all by themselves as I was writing them. The rondeau, in particular, seemed perfect for foregrounding a  word like "osteoporosis", which really does sound exactly like what it is; and the sapphics were a perfect fit for a dactylic/trochaic phrase like "here at McDonalds". Actually I never fail to find it amazing that the poems themselves so often seem to gravitate toward their most appropriate form, and do much of the work for me in advance.




Reverie, with Fries

Straight-spined girl—yes, you of the glinting earrings,
amber skin and sinuous hair: what happened?
you’ve no business lunching with sticky children
here at McDonald’s.

Are they yours? How old were you when you had them?
You are far too dazzling to be their mother,
though I hear them spluttering Mommy Mommy
over the Muzak.

Do you plan to squander your precious twenties
wiping ketchup dripping from little fingers,
drowning your ennui in a Dr. Pepper
from the dispenser?

Were I you for one schizophrenic moment,
I’d display my pulchritude with a graceful
yet dismissive wave to the gathered burghers
feeding their faces—

find myself a job as a super-model,
get me to those Peloponnesian beaches
where I’d preen all day with a jug of ouzo
in my bikini.

Would I miss the gummy suburban vinyl,
hanker for the Happiest Meal on Main Street?
—Wouldn’t one spectacular shrug suffice for
begging the question?



Rondeau: Old Woman With Cat

Osteoporosis (one of life’s indignities)
is such a splendid name for the disease—
all those little o’s, holes in the bone
where the rain gets in, rendering a crone
like me defective, porous as swiss cheese.

I’m riddled at the hips and knees,
roundsided as parentheses
since my shrunken spine has known

and my extremities
have shriveled into lacy filigrees,
breakable as glass on stone.
Naked at the window ledge I drone
to my sleek, supple Siamese:



To My Neighbor John, Who Is Completely Happy

That midnight warble in the summer dark
is you, John, singing your way home
from the Rehab Center where you work
evenings-- one out of kilter chromosome
has never slowed you down. Your nightly whoop
floods the neighborhood with so much bliss
that my Dalmatian springs from sleep
and opens up her throat to harmonize
with you-- along with every other canine
in a one-mile radius. Soon the air
is vibrating for blocks with strains
of an unearthly sweetness-- prayers
rising from the bottom of the brain,
an ode to joy, with tabernacle choir.



The former poet laureate of Milwaukee, Marilyn Taylor is the author of Subject to Change and Exit Only, and a chapbook of Greatest Hits.