Monday, June 21, 2010

Poems from Tomcat

The Tomcat ©1990
P.O. Box 750251
Petaluma, CA 94975

An introduction by Donna Champion

Marianne Ware is many things to many people: daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and friend. From these numerous and varied roles has emerged a unique and gifted writer. Marianne's writing draws on her New York Jewish roots, life in California and the intricate weavings of the family structure.

She explores the many facets of her characters, their thoughts, emotions and dreams. Marianne instills in her fiction and poetry a wonderful sense of humor, as well as a concern for the human condition. Her writer's voice is not distracted or diminished by trendy styles and subjects; the writing is clear and direct, while her vision encompasses the complexities and absurdities of our daily struggles.

Like her chicken soup, Marianne Ware's writing warms and enriches our lives and nourishes our weary souls. We are lucky to know her. She is a mench, a real person, a real writer.


After a thunderous midnight argument,
a deluge of hailstone dreams,
a night of exposure on opposite ledges
across the king-sized chasm
of our bed,
we awake to a calm, clear morning,
rolling together easily
over a meadow of muslin daisies,
to find there are no gullies
or even fissures between us,
that we are scrubbed down now
and washed, wonderously clean.

Page 2 The Tomcat


Once again
you have invaded my village,
tromped through my secret garden,
confiscated my larder
and pummeled my sacred cow.
You have even raped me,
figuratively speaking,
terrorized me
with your bayonet posturings,
wounded me
with your knife-edged jibes.
I am dizzy
from trying to avoid
your land-mine arguments
occupied to the point of madness
with thoughts of
the Resistance forces
hidden in my basement below.
Yet, even as you slay me,
I understand that you were
forcefully induced
(just like countless armies
of your brothers),
given brutal basic training
(childhood in our culture)
for this life, this world,
this maim-or-be-maimed
combat zone.


My nose,
in middle age,
is so much bigger now.
It droops a whole lot
lower down than in my teens.
But finally it seems just right,
quite logically protuberant:
the ethnic hook my face was meant
to hang upon.


In the camp kitchen, amidst pots
large enough to make dragon stew
for all the Knights of the Round Table;
staples ample enough to last
a passel of Dust Bowl kinfolk,
all the long 1930's way to California;
dishes numerous enough
for the family reunion
of the oldest, most prolific
couple in the U.S.A.,
I find myself sore-footed,
backachy, resentful-
stirring spaghetti sauce for 300-
imagining locusts
chomping up the grain belt;
cattle all over Texas, Wyoming, Montana
bloated and dying in every culvert;
all the tomato plants in America
stricken with blight,
and even the delicious summer grasses
(tossed with dandelion and miner's lettuce)
outside in the bowl-shaped meadow,
withered, suddenly,
inedibly parched,
then blackened to the ground.


Some poets' landscapes
are too stark for me,
their vistas spare,
deprived in form and content,
so I get hungry at the breaks,
each time a bloodless phrase
is turned, and skinny similes
just ramble dryly on and on.

Too quickly I begin to crave
cream cheesy themes,
an ample bagel's verve,
pastrami, lox,
where there's no heft,
no meat, just desert sand,
a shade like Gulden's mustard
yet without its zip,
is smooth, cohesive texture.

I long for something solid, then:
good chewy chunks of speech
like Polish sausage, pumpernickel;
yet all I get are tasteless dunes,
bland Yucca spears,
a slice or more of cryptic sky.

Mojave pastorales are not for me;
their mesas beckon mainly to ascetics
who think of substance as a sin,
and that a worthy feast
is made of wind and grit
(no caraway) blown carelessly
across some bleached white
bones of words.
f there's no piquant pickle's bite,
no corny-beefy lines to love,
no beaming human being, there,
gesticulating at me
from behind the counter's glass,
then I repeat, reiterate:
a poem isn't much,
it's really desiccated,
without a deli in it.

The Tomcat Page 3


There is a walrus stranded in my bed;
slack.eyed, with belly up, he roan.
His tusks, glistening in the pre-dawn light,
seem less ferocious than you'd think,
although his snarls could wake the deaf,
barbinrrated, tsetse fly infected.
Awhile ago I read that whales
had beached themselves
along the southern California shore,
and certain people were concerned enough
to volunteer to push them back into the surf,
because they know: a whale out of its element
can crush itself to death with its own weight.
What can I do, these precious minutes, hours
as his moustache trembles and that clangor
issues only inches from my head? I've tried
to move away, to find a quiet place,
but he begins to squirm upon these gritty sheets
as if protesting my defection,
then flops his head about
and blares a trumpet off in all directions.
Could he have parasites - just like the whales -
affecting his poor brain and snout?
Or, does he thrash, a crazed, would-be seabound
somnambulant who dreams his mate and pups
are gone, his feeding grounds defiled,
his kindred maimed or dead.
In any case, this human lies here pinioned,
pensive, sleepless while that snoozing creature
e'roons his grating, mournful song.
I can't deprive him of his rest, appropriate
what Nature really meant for us to share.
There is a walrus stranded in my bed,
with on-shore rights atop these foamy dunes,
a claim upon these patchworked sands.


When asked how it's done,
we, the artfully married,
hats full of ready homilies,
pull out predictable allusions
to ourselves as barnacles,
still clinging to a ship in drydock,
or a srubbom pair of apples
withering on a bare November tree.
More cunningly, we'll move
to conjure clowns
cavorting in an empty arena
after the circus leaves town
or old war hones galumphing
in the aftermath of the big parade.
Shrewdly, we will never show the hand
revealing us as cannibals,
stranded by a sudden winter,
Donner-passing the time,
our hunger and the storfixi away.
Then, by a not so clever slight of mind,
we could delude ourselves the most
if we forget to say
the whole routine is done with mirrors,
when either face shines back a likeness
of the other's private yearning.
And, in that fast shtffle of illusion,
as we respond to what we call
our partner's desperation,
thaCs how we work our special magic,
the hocus-pocus of this long-time coupling.

Some of these poems have previously appeared in First Leaves, Dremning of Wings, The Paper, Power and Work, and The Sonoma Mandala.

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