Cheryl A. Rice, founder and host of the now-defunct Sylvia Plath Bake-Off, has led her RANDOM WRITING workshops throughout the Hudson Valley, where she has lived for over 35 years, after growing up on Long Island. Her poetry blog is Flying Monkey Productions.

Because

She was the same mohair china doll
I remembered, tender fragment
from shattered trip, paperweight eyes
serious sights in carnival world,
same long cheeks pale with harvest of roses
stolen from summer’s sun,
autumn’s ripe delights.
She had never been all doll,
but she was still full,
satisfying second looks.

I forgot her winter then,
bare branches that pricked her romance.
I didn’t ask questions we didn’t
have time to answer in an hour.
She tasted of the same hard hope,
polished with innocence,
annealed by that winter.

I wanted right there to strip again,
pose for those fractal eyes,
twist my chipped body into pleasing alignment
because she deserves it, because she loves
the color of my metaphoric bones,
adjectives that dangle from my
many unkissable mouths,
because in her spring eyes
another blue becomes.

 

Running For Roses

Ten thoroughbreds today in Kentucky
pace in their stalls, as they are bred to,
shake heads, grumble into the haze.
Silks aside, they loosen elegant joints
in easy morning runs.
Unsaddled, they anticipate, even this early,
the afternoon’s contest.

I chomp on my toothbrush.
My silks hand next to my velvets
on the closet door.
Shoeless, I paw the painted floor,
count the hours, the pounds.
Like nine out of ten ponies in the feature,
today will not be my day,
but there will be ceremony,
flowers, drinks, once around the paddock.
For my wedding, there was a rose corsage
for the Bible that should have warned me,
tight buds for the groom and his best man.
At Churchill Downs, the promenade’s begun,
warm cups of advertiser’s beer,
reunion of mint and bourbon.

Free of sponsors today, I set
my head on fire for the occasion,
winner’s red to light the way down the aisle.
I go through my paces—mascara, lipstick,
name-brand deodorant.
What will become of me at the sound of the gun?

 

Synecdoche

Picasso’s a lie that helps us see truth.
His audience permits desired impact,
sensibilities convey pauperization of Mexico.
Bare feet rustle the water jar,
surprising image moves by quality intended.
Carefully chosen parts imply by analogy
transmit subject directly.
Synecdoche less than science, essence of art.

Single stem with twin flowers, Mexico,
dos flores gemelas, vida y muerta,
truth more secure, las aguas del bautismo.
Visions of unity easily proved wrong,
practical advice a resolution not offered.

Petrified field a fountain!
Dust of tall trees’ rustling bark!
Taste of such splendor, sound of panting!
A cold volcano, bare hills of stone!