bsu | cal | department of english | carolann russell-schlemper | feast
Bemidji State University

College of Arts and Letters
Department of English
Rivers Meeting: Literary Magazine



Loonfeather Press, Minnesota
ISBN 0 - 926147 - 04 - 8

These are sensual poems ­ womanly and wise. In this superb collection, filled with startling and unexpected images, CarolAnn Russell writes about motherhood, marriage, and sisterly love. The female figures are legendary in stature ­
- Marcia Southwick

If we had touched them together,
if she had smiled,
slipping out of her blouse,
unfastening her white brassiere,
would I have imagined myself
a mother someday
as I lay my cheek
against her rich and generous flesh?
Would I have fed myself then
against the world's starvation,
the ancient hunger for beauty
to shine its blue moon
into the cells of our bodies?

Skin to skin, loving women
in the sunlight of an ordinary day,
that singular language of touch.
Pinwheels of flesh leaf out
around the darkening buds
over the green fields of the heart,
keeping us rounded and soft
against the world's steel elbows.

I keep expecting things to change
into their opposites.
If and when the cancer comes
help me to remember
I am the center of the paradox,
my breasts the yin and yang
of pleasure, pain
perfectly paired and bonded,
the first part of my body
I touched alone,
and loved.
Now, pillowed against
the scarred chest of a friend,
her prostheses like burial mounds,
I am lead to grow toward you
like some private miracle.

When Josef lies napping, swaddled
in flannel, spiders twirl
spinning their nets of silk.
When Josef lies napping, solemn as Churchill,
dust motes dance on the breath
of his snores.

Curled liked a bodhisattva,
resplendent in diaper and tee-shirt
Josef presides: Prince
of the Boulevard, Sheik
of Changing Table and Tub.
In the middle of the day he sighs,
wriggles his fingers,
and waves his arms hello and goodby
while his bare feet kick in the air
and his pink toes flutter. Pure
semaphore of flesh,
plumped in lambskin like Baby Genghis,

Little King of Piss and Drool, he
rules all that is real,
elemental, and free. Kisses
and poop are his subjects;
so are we. Willingly,
full of our deaths we live

for him, for he is the verb
of our household and when
he lies napping, we sing.

When the table is lit with daffodils
in their cobalt vase,
Josef will announce his intention
with gurgles and ahs
that blossom like blue roses
in a sultan's garden
until we have forgotten we are old.
Reaching beyond the sound
he finds the cold,
determine spoons
at rest upon their simple napkins.
The first he raises into air

as if from the dead,
and in his tiny grip
it matters, mothering his sole
desire to influence the world
of table: scepter
to banish winter, and rule,
the shimmering spoon held high
as it will go toward heaven.
In the glow of his round face
he practices perfect

the second it falls
into the blue lake of linoleum,
a lure for the bones
of salmon, hook
for Kwan-yin who cups
all the abyss
in the shine of the kitchen
where swims a sperm
or a frozen flower
at home with the sun.

E-Mail Me
Italian Poems
Poets of the Cimitero Acattolico
The Way to Villa D'Amore
Gypsy Taxi
Silver Dollar
The Red Envelope
Limited Editions


Without Reservation

The Tao of Woman

Professional Readings
Anthologies & Journals
National & International Presentations
Grants & Awards
Order a Book

Copyright © 2004 CarolAnn Russell-Schlemper
Questions and comments to or
Last Modified: November 16, 2007 12:24

Design by AM Lindahl