archives fall 2007



Blessing Will

And I wish you time to age, your
useful head hair gone, erupting
from your ears and eyebrows,
the drama of your face tribute
to a poet. I wish you lips to kiss
the new bare skin above your brain,
and levity for a head-heavy
life. I wish you too many
books to read, too many journeys
to take, too many women to
love you. I wish an echo
to your stairwell, bay to your
fish, eyes to your lens, skies
to your pain, friends to your friend,
apprentice to your shaman, music
to your mouth, moth to your moonlight.


After Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”

Tonight it was a couple suits and a red dress. Every night’s a different cast at the diner, that’s the thing, it’s never boring. No. I bet that guy who came in alone was wishing he was sitting next to a woman with red hair. She looked like a cardinal, with this hair and dress against her skin, white like it’s the snow or something. And quiet, just sitting there listening to her suit and me talking. I think she had something on her mind, the way she leaned on her elbows and looked at her cigarette case, turning it around in those long fingers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was looking, but you notice things. I kept the coffee poured and talked to the suit, which is what you do when they feel like talking. You can always talk about sports, and believe me in my business you make a lot of talk about the weather, we got a good view of it the way that glass curves all around, the streetlights shining in. But this guy had other things on his mind, seems he and the red dress are thinking about leaving here, and I told him my sister lives in Chicago. I told him maybe I’ll get out of here someday too.


The Clothes Whisperer

I don’t see dead people or
whisper to horses, but since turning
46 this collection of clothes I carried
from state to state has started
to speak to me. I know
thrifty—shirt and sweater
cast-offs from
my uncle’s mother, now passed,
neighbors, cousins, daughter
in middle school. I don’t know
why now
I hear them, the violet-
turquoise-fuchsia turtleneck saying
Hands off, mister! I’ve got unicorns
to catch,  salmon cardigan
and chocolate cable knit with
nautical buttons, I’m in my 70s
and I wear clothes too big
for me. Nothing shouts
like overalls, In my spare time I play
in dirt!  the stuffy maroon sweater,
Sorry I’m late, I was just talking
to the Mother Superior. The pink plaid
blouse spoke to my daughter:
I am a tablecloth. Bags of sartorial
comment marked GOOD WILL
stack next to the mirror, my
new clothes ignore the cries,
Shoulder pads were popular
in the 70s! Everyone has an
electric yellow polar fleece vest!
Red athletic socks are coming back!
They will not have the last word,
the loafers with the tire-tread soles
proclaiming, You could walk to Norway,
blue rubber rain boots with their
Let me rub your ankles raw, striped
turtleneck scratching, I don’t go
with anything, that white sweater won’t
pull the wool over me.


Essay Question

What is your most prized possession?

The playful clothes—yellow raincoat, planet
socks, stripy underwear, zigzag earrings

dangling pink beads, or the slender coat
and its soft collar, new black shoes

with a stylish nip at the bone—I can’t choose
one more than I can pick a day, though

Monday’s class is my favorite, but is it mine,
any more than the view of the old horse

in the pasture at dawn? My camera
has seen what I have seen, Wisconsin ice,

children selling cookies at a worn card table,
a tree born from the rot of what lived.

I don’t know what made me cry—the wedding
rings, or the note from my grandmother’s pen,

For Karen. Do I possess my cat or just his
daily returns through my door, or this oak

door with its beveled glass, or the stone fireplace,
the swirls of kitchen ceiling from my grandfather’s

hand over my mixer, stock pan, heavy-handled
flour scoop, the glass bowl on its stem,

the old linoleum that catches the heavy
steps of good bye, the dancing?


Lost Child

So there you all are, everyone you know plus about a thousand extras, trying to find the missing child, looking at the map and taking every form of transportation you’ve seen in your life. Finally the alarm goes off and you shift on your pillow and the extras begin to wander off, except for the two women with accents and the man with the map, they stay, even though the map never actually leads you to where you need to go to solve the problem you are trying to explain to everyone. So you start getting ready for work and then you realize that when you went to the store yesterday without the list, you forgot lotion, which has become an emergency

since the cold snap dried out the air, so you go canvassing through the house for the nearly empty specialty creams you got for Christmas and you put them on, blueberry, peach, cucumber, and you wonder if everyone at work will suddenly get the urge to go to the salad bar, and you’re throwing the empties into the garbage, which is full because you forgot to take out the trash again. So you start driving down the highway and it’s a mess from the deep snow a few days ago and a truck kicks some slush onto the windshield and you turn the knob for some squirter and that’s when you discover you’re out—you get this little spit and it smears around and you can’t

really see anymore, you need new wipers anyway but you’re a little worried you won’t be able to get them back on and then you’d have to put your hand out the window when you’re driving and wipe off the snow. The women at work are telling childbirth stories and you make a little comment about Lamaze, and they ask Lamaze?  and they don’t know you very well and begin to think you’re not very bright. So the day goes on like that until you get back into bed and get ready for the man to give you the map that isn’t very helpful so you can go and look for the lost child, and the last thing you think before you fall asleep is that it’s funny that even in your dreams, you don’t stop to ask for directions. 


Karen Schubert is a graduate student in creative writing at Cleveland State University. She served as editor of the Youngstown State University Penguin Review, and is the recipient of YS’'s Hare Award for poetry. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Mid-America Poetry Review, DMQ, Angle, Primavera, Versal, Poetry Midwest, and other journals.