Tag Archives: Carla Schwartz

Mother, He Spins Me Around

by Carla Schwartz


My friends ask if I’m still seeing him.
He’s nice, I affirm, embarrassed.
He’s smart. He’s generous. I like him.
You would have liked him.

The other day I said I thought he was on the spectrum.
Thoughtless, I know. But that’s what I was thinking.
I wanted to elaborate, start a conversation,
but these days we avoid the touchy spots.

He still kisses me. Says “Sometimes
it’s your turn. Sometimes, mine.”

I think I am getting somewhere, and maybe I am.
Now he accepts my invitations to dance.

Tonight we dance under the skies.
He tells me a story about his dead brother.
How he doesn’t miss him, either.

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Fall Leaves

by Carla Schwartz


I hate the trees.
Every fall the leaves,
whole piles swirl and spin
in the wind and land
in sheaves on the grass,
the driveway, the walk.

I slipped
on leaves yesterday.
Now, dead leaves stick
to the inside of my sweatshirt.

Mostly, I hate the pines.
The fine brown needles
don’t prick, but lie flat,
a sticky thick carpet
woven brown,
ready to douse the yard
with acid.
I want to light the trees
on fire.

I never asked for so much.
The honey locust used to drop wheelbarrows of pods yearly,
until I chopped it down.

I do a little raking when I can.
Pine needles, where they pile up.
And I mow the leaves into the grass.

My mother always warned me to take care of the lawn.
If you let it go, it will cost thousands to replace.
I hate caring for the grass, too.

Break Up

by Carla Schwartz


You hear the news of the breakup,
second-hand. It’s your lover’s best friend,
someone you liked from the start,
although you thought he was shy
and passive, especially around his girlfriend,
who always struck you as matter-of-factly push-push,
a woman who knows what she wants and gets it,
a woman who fears a parking lot at night,
but can run a company.

You tried to like her,
but, when she sided with the prissy ranger
in a story you tell often ━ no one
sides with the prissy ranger, they side with you,
practical, efficient, unselfconscious you ━
that clinched it: You and she would never be friends.

But now she is on the receiving end of a hit-and-run break up,
after all the years, the vacations, the kids growing up.
Your lover says, Relationship fatigue.
You couldn’t have seen it coming for
the push-push woman and the pushover man.
But you’ve seen this before: Something rises up
in the man to say, I can’t take this anymore,
and then retribution, revolt.

Something inside you wants to reach out to this woman,
you want to speak up for all who have been in her shoes,
to tell her she is not alone. This is not the first wham bam
and it won’t be the last. But you stop yourself.
You remember you don’t really like her,
and you stare down at your own flimsy shoes.

Night Swim

by Carla Schwartz


After a day’s work at the home office,

after packing the car with camping gear for a two-week stay,
after the long drive, slowed by traffic,

after pulling into the campground
and snagging the last spot on a pond,

after the hour it takes to park and set up the tent
in the darkening night, the dripping rain,

after finally eating what would constitute dinner:
four carrots with hummus, while seated, dry in the driver’s seat of my parked car,

after a day of not even stretching,
after gathering my swim gear, clothing, and towel, headlamp affixed,

I step carefully down the steep, root-strewn path, that must lead to the pond.
At the water, in the almost pure dark, the rain still drizzles.

Before stepping in, I strip, and don my goggles, cap, and fins.
Before I set out, I make a mental note of my entry point, and its surroundings:

A big, secluded rock, a small cove, an opening in the trees.
There is no moon.

My splashing strokes, the birds, and the constant drip.
By the time I am ready to stop swimming,

the sky is clear, the big dipper, revealed.
A Venus peers down at the lone nude, swimming in the dark.

After I think I am nearing my entry point,
after trying one cove, and the next,

after every opening in the trees looks like every other,
after swimming in and out of every cove,

after approaching every big rock twice,
each blocked by dead wood, (wrong), or grasses (wrong), or other stones (wrong),

all the while swimming, a repetition of coves.
After wishing for my glasses, my suit,
after considering a cry for help, questions surface:

Could I spend the night on a rock, or sleep in the shallows?
Do the turtles sleep, and the fish, or do they nibble all night?

Should I swim to a beach and walk out on the road,
naked, without light?

Venus, without her shell, only fins,
how would she purse her coy smile, if caught?

Knockoff

by Carla Schwartz


When you say

“Wouldn’t it be better if you said…”
or “I saw your disappointment and felt cornered,
since I have a natural proclivity not to hurt,”
I hear you saying, Knock it off.

The week of the marathon bombs,
we were all emotional.
The dead and injured couldn’t say Knock it off,
this was no joke.

Once, you knocked my socks off.
I might not have noticed,
but love came knocking — loud, insistent bursts.
Sometimes you encouraged me
to knock ’em dead, if my confidence waned.
Once, I knocked my ankle into a cinder block, when I fell
through a hole in your porch. Defending your house,
you knocked me down a notch, labeled me accident-prone.
You wanted to knock sense into me. Teach me
Knock it off. Your school of hard knocks.
Teacher, I have a question. Love doesn’t make sense.

When a woman accidentally becomes pregnant,
she’s knocked up. I swell up with feeling
when you tell me not to feel,
or how to feel,
or what not to say,
or, if I do say,
how to say it.

You wanted the cheap, knockoff feelings.
The Yes, sir, that’s right. Whatever you want.
Like the Walmart cashier
when you purchased a knockoff
scarf.