The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Kathi Wolfe


If I go blind,
I'd like to be
Bette Davis
saying good-bye
to her husband
and dogs
in "Dark Victory"
or Katharine Hepburn
battling leeches
in "The African Queen."
But if my mind's eye
a blank screen,
I'd be Bugs Bunny
on speed,
an out-of-step
John Wayne
in a Busby Berkeley
production number.
If I'm to star
in this film noir
I hope
the smoke
and mirrors
are better lit.

for Anne
you tell me,
reads the paper
except ex-jocks
who can't get
enough of sports
and morbid angels
who love obits.
never jam,
the sick
call in well,
and you only eat
on feast days.
Daffy Duck
and Betty Boop
are the highest-ranking
Today, on your birthday,
you'll become
the cartoon
you always wanted to be,
though you never asked
to be animated.

From the Helen Keller poems--


    National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
    November 3, 1936
Raised by spit-stained drunks
in a rat-infested poorhouse,
you would love the high ceilings,
stained glass windows,
orderly rows of pews,
the scaffolding of this place.
I'm not your handmaiden!
you spelled into my hands,
fingertips shaking with fury,
when a banker wanted my autograph,
a young girl cut off a lock of my hair
at a party many years ago.
It was as if you were invisible.
Today, politicians, actresses
praise you.  A blind girl
brings roses to the altar,
a newsboy wipes his eyes.
You have no love of the Church,
yet you'd be so pleased
when the Bishop says you're
among the greatest teachers of all time.
You taught me words,
fishing me out of my sea
of un-named horrors.
You turned deafness
and blindness into strong,
but playful monsters.
You did not teach me
how to say good-bye to you.

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