Featured Poet: Cindy Clayton

Tonight’s poem is from another not-a-poet-for-her-day-job, Cindy Clayton. She is a good friend of mine, and she always loves to participate in whatever call for poetry I have her on my blog, and I love it when she does, because her poems are so much fun. I especially like the way her poem just strolls around, all natural-like, and then — bazinga! — really gets you at the end.




What I learned from mythology:


Never direct insults at those with terrible powers
and vengeful natures.


If you wish to be deathless,
you must also wish to be ageless.


Lie low, pretty young women,
lest someone from the pantheon claim you
and proceed with all manner of indignities.


If you need to do something that’s impossible,
get a god to sponsor your endeavor
and you may just have a chance.


No defensive mechanism exists which can’t be beaten
with a little ingenuity.


Should you happen to spot a goddess in the altogether,
turn quickly away
and just keep walking.


Metamorphosis is forever, so think twice—
unless you’re a god,
in which case the sky’s the limit.


But usually, a simple disguise will serve
when you’re in a tight spot.


And if your story is utterly tragic, or impressively heroic,
or you manage to please the right deity,


You could end up among the stars.

Featured Poet: Cindy Clayton

Cindy Clayton’s daughter is ten days older than my daughter, and the two girls have been among each other’s very best friends their whole lives. Today is her daughter’s birthday party, and in celebration of the girls’ friendship, and of my long-time friendship with Cindy, who is part of our social group from college, I’m posting here a poem she wrote a long time ago for one of my blog contests.

Cindy is a Houston native who enjoys writing and reading, along with horseback riding, photography, dance, and various crafts. She studied French and English at the University of Houston, during which time she spent two summers studying and teaching in Bourges, France. In the current century, she married a theatre teacher and gave birth to two daughters, who enhance and complicate her life in the most delightful ways. A 22-year career in technical writing and editing has only reinforced her natural tendency to favor the serial comma and use lots of bullet points.


Tennyson Haunts the Nursing Chair


The clock above the door of the dusk-dimmed room
marks the passing heartbeats, minutes I’ll never see again.
I think of the novel lying near my left elbow,
but I know that to reach it
will mean waking her.
So I close my eyes, dismiss the book,
and replay the List of Important Things in my head—
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

I have another child,
waiting elsewhere in our small house.
Her voice, her breath, that long fall of cornsilk hair
are as cherished as this milk-drunk baby
who now takes her rest.

Rest, rest, on mother’s breast.

Twice-blessed, I am, and more than content.
The Important Things may tap their feet
and look daggers my way,
But this most intimate dinner for one
and its sweet aftermath, all snores and sighs,
Leave no room for the outside world
and its mundane details.

There will be time later for All That.
This is the time for only us.
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.