Posted by: Rachel Mallino | July 6, 2009

Dysfunctional Batch #10 – Karen Schubert

About the (dys)functional poet:
Karen Schubert’s chapbook The Geography of Lost Houses (2008) was published by Pudding House. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in anthologies and journals including Water~Stone Review, Poetry Midwest, Versal, DMQ Review and diode poetry journal. In 2008, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Anthology. Karen is a recent editor of Whiskey Island Magazine and a current visiting writer at Texas A&M Commerce.



When I knocked the coffee cup
from its ledge, and it broke
into the shower, surrounding
my feet with sharp pottery
slipping along in the currents,
I felt the way
I’m always breaking
something, a hand-thrown
mug, a path, a promise.
This life requires a map
I can’t find, a gentleness
I can’t feel, a surety I know
only in these edges that keep me
from stepping on a mess
of my own making.
……………………………….Such a gift
we have in the consent of others,
the minutes they give
us, I offer
no refund, only lie quiet
in the whole of it, saying,
don’t believe I think I know,
only see me now, bending
to pick up what is too small.
Don’t walk too close, unless
you are willing to mix
your blood with mine.

Farmhouse Rondeau

Groggy Saturday, the day wears
like continuous morning. French toast steams
from broken eggs, cinnamon whorls.
Groggy Saturday, the day wears
on over mugs of coffee. Dully aware
of weighted fog and cream,
groggy Saturday, I wear the day
like continuous morning. French toast steams.

The reading light’s not working, eyes
won’t see in shadow, ache my head,
workdays I’m not home. Again I try.
The reading light’s not working. I
know an old farmhouse needs and needs. My
list is long, pulling to be read.
The reading light’s not working, eyes
won’t see in shadow. Aches my head.

I can neither rest nor work, just fight
with book or list. The ground is breaking,
restless autumn litters gardens by night.
I can neither rest nor work, just fight
my need for darkness, need for light.
Beside the barn, hyacinth bulbs awakening.
I can neither rest nor work, just fight
with book or list, the ground is breaking.

How to Feed the Lover

Find fresh strawberries, not chilled
too pulpy to hold
their shape. Quick – after picking
off the living stem,
slice each into its hearts,
still beating. Lay them sweetly bleeding
on a bed of cake, like his bed,
so new he can’t tell
if he slept there, or greasy
with the body outline, chalk mark,
witness. Lay the slices over
sinking butter, spoon cream on top, whipped
to angels. Or pinch the stem and suffocate
in chocolate, or crush the flesh
and fold into batter. Lick your fingers –
they will be red for days. Save the ripest
to feed your lover, lean close, hear the crunch
of the tiny bones, taste like it will be the last thing
in your mouth.



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