Sample Poems by Penelope Schott
The Average #2 Yellow Pencil
draws a line approximately thirty-five
which is not nearly far enough away.
By now you may have worn out the
Or if you're brave you can use a pen.
Clasp your pen by its metal throat
It will tell everything without being tortured.
It will confess how years ago there was
where even the silver knives and the forks
were terrified of Sunday
Yes, sweetie pie, I mean that pointed house
where your given name was
Six Years Old on Her Grandparents'
Her life seemed like two nights and one day
where the first night had been
and the last night would be her death
and that single long day stretched so far ahead
up with future and furniture
she could almost rock in the white wicker chair
and forgive the world
for making her a child
who sometimes still needed to hide
behind the rocker where the porch
pressed tiny diamonds onto her young cheek
while the man on the tall Sunday
preached grandly Do unto others
but this girl didn't want to be done unto
no she did not
want to be so undone
Beneath high cupboards of the butlery with the jam-jar my Nana filled and
emptied and washed and dried every morning of every summer of my whole childhood and which is here in
my china cabinet, and back in that locked attic with the wind-up gramophone and the boxes of thin letters
from my uncle who died in the Pacific, and also in the words we were instructed not to say: Hey is for horses,
or horses sweat, men perspire, women glow, I am still glowing in the yellow light of so many summers: My
luv is like a red red rose on the screened porch, and Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms over the bed, the
century given to me from the beginning, last skirmish of the Indian wars and the War to End War, to the first
jagged flicker of black and white on Howdy Doody afternoons, a distant childhood without breasts or
bleeding, a place that is still in me and inside my grown children as they clip bunches of grapes off stems with
Nana's grape shears, here I stand as a stranger in the 21st Century, and whoever will know me must
remember streetcars, remember sparks, remember a split pen nib dipped into bottled ink and rolling out,
Palmer method. I am a foreigner here on my hard disk but in Nana's footed porcelain compote dish, I am the
wrinkled peach and I am also the seed.
When were you born?
At the wrong time: a war starting,
mother abandoning her degree.
What diseases run in your family?
Two left feet, severe
tin ears, virulent know-it-all-ism.
What illnesses have you
Divorce, divorce, heartbreak, shortage
of cash, recurring attacks of
What medicines are you currently taking?
Sunshine, daily strolls up Dufur
red wine, poetry, warm buttered toast.
Do you use any assistive devices?
jokes, sometimes my husband,
that red wine. And yes, the dog.
How do you plan to
Too soon or late, but not in May. I can't
quit breathing during lilac
What will you leave when you're gone?
Six delicate Limoges cups, five
the absence of my shadow on the ground.