Private Grief

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    FAMILIAR FACES

    PRIVATE GRIEF

    Revised 2011 Edition

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    Acknowledgments

    Poems in this collection also appeared in Active Voice, Alberta

    Poetry Yearbook, The Antigonish Review, Ariel, Athanor, The

    Blotter, Canadian Literature, Clarity Between Clouds,

    Cross-Canada Writers= Quarterly, Descant, Erindale Review,

    Exchanges Between Us: More Intergenerational Connections

    Germination, The Longship Review, The Malahat Review,

    Mamashee, The New Quarterly, Of Cabbages & Kings (6X FM

    Radio, London), OSSTF Forum, Other Channels, Parthenon Poetry

    Anthology, Pierian Spring, Poetry Canada Review, Prism

    International, Quarry, Secrets from the Orange Couch,

    sendecki.com, Simcoe Review, Songs from the North, Spare Words,

    The Squatchberry Journal, A Tapestry in Six Textures, The Third

    Taboo, Tower, Treeline, West Coast Review, Where the Light Waits,

    Whetstone, White Wall Review, Wordloom, and Ygdrasil.

    Second Digital Edition

    ISBN 978-0-920835-38-8Copyright 2011 by Susan Ioannou.

    First Digital Edition

    ISBN 978-0-920835-26-5

    Copyright 2005 by Susan Ioannou.

    First Print Edition

    ISBN 978-0-920835-01-2Copyright 1986 by Susan Ioannou

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,

    stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any

    means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or

    otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

    Wordwrights Canada

    www.wordwrights.ca

    wordwrights@sympatico.ca

    http://www.wordwrights.ca/http://www.wordwrights.ca/
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    Familiar Faces1 Mosaic

    2 Editorial

    3 A Critics Choice4 Writers:

    Collaborators

    Rival Poets

    A Literary Affair

    5 Coffee House Reading

    6 First Writing Workshop

    7 Chaucer Class8 Dropout

    9 Metaphors to My Students

    10 Valedictory

    11 Daedalus Last Words to Icarus

    12 Lake Simcoe with My Father

    14 July Beach

    15 Welcome16 Couplets for Poet and Pianist

    17 Lace

    18 Le Misrable

    19 Aunty

    20 Mary Jane Elder

    21 Wire

    22 Mrs. Minton Confides23 Convalescent

    24 Waves

    25 Kathleen Marshall

    26 Fast Exit

    27 Adjuster, Leaving

    28 For My Husband

    29 Plaza: Late December30 Giagia

    31 The Widows

    33 Gathering

    34 Eileen and Jean

    35 In Your Light

    37 In Memory of Sophia Maniates

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    Private Grief39 Miserere

    49 You Are There41 Elegy

    42 Glimpsing the Dark

    43 Advance Elegies:

    My Mother and Me

    Father and I

    Faces

    45 Somewhere Between47 Reflections, on Hearing a Crow

    48 Caw

    49 Prayer for Grandma Zoe

    50 Four Poems for Greta Ebel:

    Last Words

    The Angel of Death Visits

    InheritancesAt Gretas

    55 Last Days

    56 Gone

    58 Visitation

    59 The Funeral

    60 Mourner

    60 Angelicide61 Memoriam

    63 Three Poems for My Father:

    When

    77th Birthday Dinner

    February 1985

    66 The Green Room

    67 Home Going69 Afterlife

    70 Ancestors

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    For Merla

    . . . without whom . . .

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    Familiar Faces / Private Grief/ 1

    Familiar Faces

    Mosaic

    Smiling, among the hanging ferns

    she waits, Byzantine.

    Icons of singleness

    consecrate her walls:a lovers bamboo fan,

    two pen-and-inks of Cambridge,

    Vogue cover in gilt frame.

    Across the evening stillness

    Mahler chants.

    Brown bandana pillows sinkupon beige velvet as the sofa kneels.

    Deep in thick Persian carpet

    patterns genuflect,

    while glass, gold table legs lift up

    old cognac, coral rosebuds

    taking communion in a crystal vase.

    And smiling, in off-white silk

    elegant, elongated,

    larger than life

    she waits, Byzantine

    in a godless age.

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    Familiar Faces / Private Grief/ 2

    Editorial

    Facing blankness at thirty-eight,before her private metal desk

    she sits down undismayed.

    Four times a day she runs,

    drumming awkward lust

    into asphalt. Now explains,

    sipping iced tea, serene,

    how life is pasted to a page,

    emotions pencilled blue.

    Corrected, corners straight, she disdains

    passions smudge,

    the ragged right and left of love.

    Childless, manless,

    fit in efficient solitude,

    she edits into black and white

    preface, notes and index, but

    is void of contents,or a happy ending for herself.

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    Familiar Faces / Private Grief/ 3

    A Critics Choice

    Snake coiled to attack,she shivers black and yellow diamonds

    as I read.

    Her venom drips.

    Will I approve?

    Will I condemn?

    Or must she strike me firstCin self-defence?

    I too am forced to coil,

    my prey her strained intent,

    forked tongue flicking tact,

    and change my speckles brown to green

    to suit her mood.

    I too must writhe,

    intruder on her frightened sands,

    play hypnotic games with jewelled eyes,

    or slither soundless, serpentine

    away towards Eden.

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    Familiar Faces / Private Grief/ 4

    Writers

    1. Collaborators

    We keep our work between usC

    a bridge and a barrier.

    2. Rival Poets

    Two itchy bears

    rubbing egos

    like ragged rumps

    against each other

    3. A Literary Affair

    You make love to me

    with your Voice

    and I respond

    in multiple poems.

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    Familiar Faces / Private Grief/ 5

    Coffee House Reading

    Egos and nerves, poets hunchtight over little tables,

    shuffling poems, wondering, When

    will I get to read?

    Another open set?

    I got a bus to catch!

    (Really, just want a beer.)

    Earless, robots clap

    relief as one more ends

    and their turn edgesCcloser.

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    Familiar Faces / Private Grief/ 6

    First Writing Workshop

    (for Rose)

    A rose by any other name,

    you uncurl poems toward the light,

    but when sheers snip a twigCit stings!

    Green stems bend back.

    You want to shoot

    thorns into the gardeners palm.

    Instead, like rain, you drop and hide

    dismayed sap bleeds,

    as if you are the only one.

    Rose, by many other names,

    Ive watched you burstto spread your petals red and wide.

    Like mauve, pink, white, already flared,

    you want to share

    the gardens tint and scent,

    match daisies ease, sophisticated iris,the subtle violets whose practised growing

    turns shadows into light.

    What is a metaphor?

    Where rain grows sun,

    and past and future root within one moment.

    Rose, keep reaching higher.

    What briar beauty

    awaits your breaking through.

    I know. We all dig the same

    who garden our passions

    among weeds, in words.

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    Familiar Faces / Private Grief/ 7

    Chaucer Class: a Tale of Middle Age

    The Pardoner=s Tale drones on.Across the touching desks,

    lolling on the crooks of elbows,

    the two stretch closer.

    Hands share scribbles on a single paper

    to quell the arms from reaching to embrace.

    Hes gat-toothed like the Wyf of Bathe

    and she a coy Madame Eglantyne,all Amor Vincit Omnia.

    They listen for a moment to my drone,

    then dream themselves away upon a smile,

    the Millers Handy Nicholas and Alisoun

    before the flood.

    And I, sag-shouldered and distended belly,so very married, middle-aged and stagnant,

    ponder the Pardoners words: lust, gluttony and greed.

    I miss his ageless sins,

    the nights we gorged on kisses till we hurt

    and drank ourselves to bed with promises,

    every hill and valley of the body plundered

    and its pleasures won.

    Profane delightCtwenty years ago?

    Im not the Merchants January yet,

    though May Id long forgotten.

    September nudges.

    Tumbling leaves curl dry,

    though outwardly still golden.

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    Familiar Faces / Private Grief/ 8

    Dropout

    The most important thing in life is money,you insist.

    What have I done?

    What have I not done

    to change your mind?

    Where did you learn that whine?

    A motto of the toughest school downtown?A mouthful that you swallowed

    with the guys while drinking drafts?

    Or a back-street hawkers con

    barking up your neon night?

    Are you prepared for life

    or for an overdrawn account?Will forty see you Chairman of the Board

    or simply bought?

    And ever after

    happy? Or instead

    threadbare of meaning,

    will devalued,breathing hollow in an empty room,

    bankrupt when you face internal audit?

    Whose words will you quote then?

    Or will you smash the next guys dream

    and deal him double what you got?

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    Familiar Faces / Private Grief/ 9

    Metaphors to My Students

    One up on youand nearer to myself

    (to death still dearer)

    Ill rock times ladder.

    You down there,

    how beautiful you are!

    Heed my voice:p