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Monthly Archives: July 2010

“Target: Peacock”

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I was inspired to write this piece after reading Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds, edited by Billy Collins and illustrated by David Allen Sibley. This poem captures a scene I witnessed in July while visiting Victoria, Canada. This version of the poem benefits from the feedback of local first readers JG and JH.

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TARGET: PEACOCK

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On a stretch of grass in Victoria’s public park

not far from the statue of Queen Elizabeth

once beheaded by vandals, I watch as a little boy

suddenly bolts from his strolling parents to hassle

one of the resident peacocks, a mature male

with a long lavish tale trailing behind him,

an armada of steadfast eyes. The boy aims one

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of his sneakers to stomp on feathers, misses, so spits

at the rump of the bird who sidles away quickly

in peace, but the child follows and spits again.

In silence the peacock scuttles off, perhaps

too accustomed to insurrections to cry out

or claw or peck at an ankle, or perhaps seeking refuge

in those trees I passed in front of The Empress,

soft weeping sequoias, imported, limp like flags.

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by Therese L. Broderick

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“Euphoria”

This sonnet-like poem is dedicated to my daughter, with whom I went to Paris in spring 2009. My first trip to Paris was on honeymoon; my second trip was with my MFA program.

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EUPHORIA

That first time in Paris, I was deep in love

with my new husband. On a second stay, I adored

the poets who taught me Beaudelaire.

Now here for another visit, one spring week,

I come to arrange some daily trysts

between this dashing city and ma fille jolie

charming and clever, not quite seventeen.

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Walking beside her along the courtyards

of the Louvre, on bridges across the Seine,

around the Rodin busts within the d’Orsay,

or standing on the Eiffel Tower with a birds

eye view of all her prospects, I feel elated.

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May she be lifted by Romance, Myth, & Destiny

into that daring woman she yearns to be.

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by Therese L. Broderick

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“Vandal”

I wrote this poem after reading Donald Revell’s The Art of Attention: A Poet’s Eye, a book which inspired me to try to write effortlessly, paying close attention to nature and to my own awareness. (Alas, I couldn’t help but revise this poem with much effort.) This poem is autobiographical, based on my regrettable procrastination in transplanting a young tree.

VANDAL

I let a maple sapling grow past June

underneath the porch’s flag pole.

By August its roots will snarl

our basement pipes and plumbing.

Squeezed between concrete and the junipers

and waving bug-tattered leaves,

the thin tree tilts out of shadows.

I hope there is some law against

allowing branches to touch the stripes

of a hanging flag. I almost want

my patriotic husband to call the city.

Then I will have no choice

but to sharpen the saw

and grapple with such liberty.

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by Therese L. Broderick


“That Tuesday”

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This poem is a re-working of a villanelle I wrote years ago about the September 11, 2001 attacks. The form and sound of these syllabic, 14-line stanzas were influenced by Seamus Heaney’s poem “Casualty.” This version benefits from the feedback of my two local first readers JG and JH. I fact-checked the details by reading Wikipedia, by consulting with my husband, and by emailing an early draft to the teacher Mrs. White; however, the “doing sums” is a plausible fiction. This poem is one of many in a book I’m compiling as a surprise gift for my daughter.

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THAT TUESDAY

I.
You were doing sums
With pencil and paper
In Mrs. White’s classroom
And I was miles away
At the State Street bank
Making my deposits.
Before I could get
To the teller’s counter
The lobby’s TV
Switched to a station
That broke the story:
Burning cockpits,
Flaming engines,
Two New York towers.
raising and dropping the flag
II.
You were in second grade
That cloudless Tuesday
When back home I made
Your father check the news.
I dialed your school
But couldn’t get through.
All across the nation
Thousands did the same —
By cell phone or land line
Countless calls were placed
To children, husbands, wives.
Then, terrors again:
The south building falls;
A crash in Arlington.
fast and nimble-footed
III.
You were eight years old
And I was guessing
As best I could
How long it would take me
To drive to your school
Through slow traffic lights
Down Woodlawn streets
To that left-hand turn
By the parking lot.
I was listening
To the car radio
Fearing I wouldn’t reach you
Before roads closed
Or one more missile flew.
for a mother’s end game:
IV.
You had finished your sums
When I rushed up stairs
To the front office
And saw three women —
Teachers — speaking in hushed
Voices; though I could swear
I heard “Pentagon”
And pictured that word
For five sides and angles,
For agencies of war.
No one at Reception
Asked for my ID.
They knew my face
And my daughter’s name.
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V.
They knew my face.
They knew your name.
That morning I was first
To claim a boy or girl.
One teacher walked straight
To the lower school
And right up to your chair,
Led you out of the room.
In your plaid uniform —
Blue and green squares
With a thin line of red —
You left second grade
In my arms. My two arms.
My one child. That Tuesday.
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by Therese L. Broderick
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