Two Poems by Jennifer Lagier


Shame

Your mother says
she is the only woman
in the entire community
with two daughters
and six sons-in-law.

You are a constant embarrassment
with your long, graying hair,
constantly changing address,
suspicious political inclinations,
odd dietary habits,
transient friends.

She’s ashamed
you failed as a farmwife
and couldn’t keep
a good secretarial job
for over 30 years, like her.

During menopause, you took leave
of your senses and returned to school
where you sat at a desk like a little child,
became a flakey college instructor instead.

She’s convinced
you are destined to wander
a purgatory of solitary silence
among your over-educated peers,
none of whom she believes
can ever be truly happy.

A passive-aggressive madonna,
she metastasizes over phone lines,
invades your kitchen,
criticizing and complaining
as she recites your latest offenses,
leaving you with earful of admonitions,
obligations, and a migraine
or worse.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

No flag draped coffins returning to Dover
are allowed to be seen. No dead or injured soldiers,
no broken bodies of shattered children,
no images on the nightly news unless they
reinforce this hallucinating administration’s
fantasy line.

When photos do manage to escape,
they expose conquering cruelty,
naked prisoners piled into obscene pyramids,
sadistically staged humiliations,
dogs tearing at fleeing flesh,
a battered trophy wrapped in plastic,
someone’s husband, brother or father
beaten to death.

Today brings more suicide bombings,
more ambushes, more blood.
We are spared the consequences
of our actions, nourish ourselves
with escalating justifications.

Evil has become so sophisticated
We now measure murder on a sliding scale,
create new euphemisms to camouflage torture,
compare our atrocities against the excesses
of Satan himself.

Jennifer Lagier