Michelle Hartman’s work was featured in Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas, and also appears in over 60 journals in America and overseas and over thirty anthologies. Her poetry books, Irony and Irreverence and Disenchanted and Disgruntled, from Lamar University Press are available on Amazon. She is the editor of Red River Review.
Of Christmases to come
We argue where to spend Christmas:
under the Eiffel Tower, Dublin or Skye.
And I can’t understand
why it matters
as long as I can see
those blue eyes, warm grin.
His words are gaily wrapped
in my own heart’s blood
able to lift the dead in their vaulted arches.
Hand in hand we walk leaves
dirty brown and crackly beneath our feet
twisted bare limbs reach out to grasp
our warmth, life. But we are protected
by a shield unseen. Older couples pass
details of their faces worn smooth
doubtful like salutes
of cemetery angels worn, eroded by time.
Someday that will be us, mellowed by
joys and sorrows yet to come;
this exciting, edgy love assuming
a patina of comforting assurance.
after Edward Hopper
The shops are emptied, wooden
shelves, fixtures pulled for scrap, doors
pulled removed and more than a few windows
broken by small boys with slingshots.
Boris still comes each day at one,
to sit on rough sidewalk boards. His shoe
store, an empty husk behind him
echoes with old sobs from vacant
apartment above. She left one morning
to buy bread, vegetables for dinner soup.
Waving as she disappeared
into Monday crowd never to return.
Boris travels everyday from fifth floor walkup
to wait, hoping captors are not watching,
or fog of amnesia lifts and she comes back
with vegetables or not.
He despairs the coming construction,
new businesses. Beauty salon,
music store that will confuse her, cost
him last chance at life. So he waits
wonders why an artist would
find this empty scene so mesmerizing.
Chop Suey, 1929
After Edward Hopper
Flower Drum Song goes;
living here is very much like chop suey
There is a brown teapot on the table, no cups—
a distraction that lack
uselessness of teapot.
Dark and dirty colors of the inside against
white-based tints on the outside;
are these metaphors to support
her stunned expression? Has someone died
her boyfriend/fiancé run-off?
Perhaps with the very friend seated across
from her. The fiend whose face we can’t see
sporting smug look lurking under
a patina of care, of course that would be
no friend at all. Chop suey
Mandarin for assorted pieces
miscellaneous left-overs such as
a teapot or lover abandoned
with no door or way out. One teapot
one girl caught in eternal moment.
The freedom of release
It’s three in the afternoon and I’m
sitting in a McDonalds surrounded
by children acting as though
they’ve just been released
from a bum-rap of twenty five hard in Attica.
But they do not dent my hedonistic joy of a free zone.
Half way home from work I’d decided
to cut a length of the utility cord in the garage
and hang myself from the dining room ceiling.
Therefore enjoying my heart-clogging,
forbidden meal in an ecstasy no less miraculous
than commercials where an ordinary person
is hit with a gigantic spot light and their hair
blows back seductively from an unknown wind source
making them a sudden super hero.
I am in a place of no indifferent husbands
no self-centered viper off-spring
no boss so Christian Conservative, he only
watches TV shows shot in black and white.
I survey those around me still shackled by mortal coils
being dragged by moist, pulling toddlers screaming
for latest Disney toy, distractedly typing into phones
digging in pockets and purses while their faces show
a rethinking of life choices such as prudent birth control.
One particularly harried mother of multiple hyenas
stops and stares at one of her brood and for a second
she pictures killing him, right there
in front of mothers and children who will be in therapy
for years to come. This is where humanity is
and I am outside, ethereal in my composure
with grease shiny lips. Once home
I open mail, pay bills, start dinner, post some resumes
and so on until I drop into bed. My last thought
maybe tomorrow I’ll decide to run away with the circus.