Two poems from Marsha Pomerantz’s Gneiss
followed by a note on the author
Bangwell Putt Steps Out in Spring
No hatchet to hand has Bangwell Putt
but hatchets to mind, all minding much,
all grinding in her like urges edging
toward larger life, like villi rumbling
for grub. Out of the house now, Putt, and
signal quick crocuses before summer
sun does them in, that mother of their
yellow. Miss Putt notes strewn trash
stinkless after long winter, sees flattened
this and that, cans bottles cartons, mis-
construed beauty. Miss Bangwell Putt-
putts along asphalt under her own
dissident steam, noting wee melted
hearts of coal hardened into road. Don’t
lie down, flattened world, says she, or lie
but don’t let on, says Bangwell, lest
they stamp out your campfire,
tamp down your buttercups upping
among Styrofoam suds, says Miss
Misconstrue, Miss Suzy Q, Miss
spring of How-Can-I-Make-You-Under-
stand, misdeemed daughter of If-Only
and Can’t-Be-Done, miscegenation of
grape and ale, Miss Fine Ferment,
miscellaneous, Miss Euphonious née
Erroneous, Miss Make-Your-Own-
Now where? says she. All you startled
birds hiding under rocks, flutter
up, show yourselves to incipient sun, says
Miss Turn Loose, Miss Last Chance,
Ya pays yer money and I takes yer pants,
says Miss Don’t-You-Miss-Me-But-Do-
Pay-Me-Mind, laughing into loudening bliss
as Prince Hard Luck gets down off his high
horse and tries out his flat feet.
Where you been all my life, where
I been all my life? Holding my horses,
holding my nose, picking my teeth
behind my hand, says Miss Manners,
Miss Sunny Disposition, bolding my NO,
says Miss Marginalia, repositioned.
Buds don’t ask permission to expand.
Bangwell Putt, born in 1770, is believed to be the oldest rag doll in America. She resides on shirt cardboard in the Memorial Hall Museum, Deerfield, Massachusetts.
Pond in Winter: Canon and Fugue
Along the path around the pond we
walk a fifth apart. What fugue is
escapes me. I sing a parting song,
a round gone wrong, a flighty canon.
Your blunt glove points to blue
dots on trees, painted signal from
the forerunner who found a way
(You see! you say). But I glance
back and eye the yellows, inversion
of our cranky clockwise tune.
Time flies before us, footprints
leading us on. Do you hear anything?
Row, row, row your boat against
the stanch of ice. How many beats
to a fissure? Pines prick us as we
balance on a plank above a
stream. Fugue is but a forgetting that
life is but a dream.
Marsha Pomerantz grew up in New York, lived in Israel for twenty years, and now lives in Boston. A collection of her poems, The Illustrated Edge, was published by Biblioasis in 2011, and poems and essays have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, berfrois.com, Boston Review, Harvard Review, Parnassus, PN Review, Raritan, and Salamander. Selections and a (somewhat) statement of poetics are at poetrynet.org (Poet of the Month, June 2016), and one of the essays is in Best American Essays 2016, guest edited by Jonathan Franzen. Also published in 2016 is an artist’s book, They Run, made from her poem of that title by Claire Illouz (Chérence, France), with original etchings and engravings, edition of 30: www.claire-illouz.com.