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Poems by Donner

No Prisoners

This is war--
an all-out assault
waged on the denizens
who would dare defoliate
my dahlias, infest
my forsythia, munch
on my marigolds, ravage
my roses or blight
my begonias.

Sitting under my
green-striped umbrella,
like General Grant planning
the Siege of Vicksburg,
I plot their demise--
aphids asphyxiated
with spray blast of
soap water, cutworms
most certainly
cut off at the knees,
gophers guillotined
by traps that are tripped
and snails slaughtered
with sinister intent.

No deer dare show
white flag of surrender
nor slug plead for mercy,
for none will be granted.
This garden has
no court of appeal
and this gardener
shall take no prisoners.


Between the head-high shelves
that inspire conspiracy,
I found myself alone with Neruda.
A chance encounter. I listened,
beguiled, as he spoke of love
in his native tongue--
"...tu alma es una botella llena de sal sedienta
y una campana llena de uvas es tu piel."

A rash act for a married woman
to take a poet home.

Legs entwined on the couch,
I sat alone with Neruda.
Enraptured once more by his
whispered words,
I closed my eyes
and saw lovers entangled
in arbor and olive grove.
Earth and bodies mingled
in far-away Spain, nights
with longings fulfilled--
"Solo puedo quererte con besos y amapolas,
con guirnaldas mojadas por la lluvia...."
--until he was thrust from my arms.

It’s a dangerous thing for a married woman
to be so close to a poet.

As my husband slept, his back
turned to me, my fingers
idly twisted the hairs
that touched his neckline,
I listened to his steady breathing.
I turned and found Neruda,
who took me to a warmer place--
where bells chime from spires
in a suburb of Madrid
amid clocks and trees,*
calling lovers to retire--
"Quiero hacer contigo
lo que la primavera hace con los cerezos."

How delicious for a married woman
to be seduced by a poet at sunset.

*Adapted from "Explico alguas cosas," by Pablo Neruda

Other quotes from "Oda con un lamento" and "Juegas todos los dias," by Pablo Neruda

Moments of Motherhood

Crash of glass and I about faced
mid-fold toward the unwelcomed
sound. Too many chores
and now this interuption.
Sarah stood shell-shocked,
toes recoiled from shards
and slivers; a puddle
swept around the footstool,
carrying the head of a daisy
in its wake.

Small hands pulled at the
pockets of dandelion-stained shorts,
never to come clean; cockleburrs
velcroed to once-white socks;
a decision made as quickly
as the jar was changed
into fragments.

Brown eyes never left my back
as I walked to the hutch and
took out a prized vase of cut crystal,
then stooped to collect
the weeds that had been plucked
with childish wonder.

And Sarah arranged her
priceless bouquet as I
mopped up the glass shards
and water.

Soaking It Up

Weeds pulled in the afternoon sun,
the scent of a coconut oil tan
mingled with the smell of warm soil
pressed between toes
as the heat braises my back; I marvel
at how fast the ground has soaked up
this morning's ration of water.

The taste of pinot noir in your kiss,
the residue of you layered on my skin,
your fingers follow their route
along spine, hip and thigh, way
down; I turn and press for more,
always more, ever wondering
at how fast I soak up this day's
ration of lovemaking.

Shadow Escape

batik shadow materializes
on the wall, a Balinese
botanical print on
painted plasterboard.
Translated to a tropical nirvana
for thirty-two seconds.

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Biographical sketch: I'm a wife of one, mother of two, a former secondary school art teacher, currently a church secretary/bookkeeper and part-time poetry moderator. (I am older than Bela and cuter than Gary.) I was born and raised in Washington state, where we currently live with a bi-polar dog, an aggressive rabbit and a fairly normal calico cat.

Donner recommends:

Get it at amazon.com! Pablo Neruda, Selected Poems: A Bilingual Edition by Edited by Nathaniel Tarn, Translated by Anthony Kerrigan, W.S. Merwin, Alastair Reid and Nathaniel Tarn, with an Introduction by Jean Franco
Reason: This book was my introduction to Pablo Neruda. It contains biographical material and selections of his work in both his native Spanish and English and gave me an overview of this extraordinary poet.

Recommendations for writers:

When I'm writing I first think about how to convey the idea of the poem clearly to the reader, whatever the subject. What am I trying to say? And then, how do I want to say it?--the sound of the poem, the images, the descriptions, my unique way of looking at the world. I like to find the complex in the simple, everyday things.

Everything about: