Thursday Nov 23

Joe-Anne McLaughlin is the author of The Banshee Diaries, Black Irish Blues, and Jam, as well as a dream Grandmother to eight. Along with conducting poetry workshops in The States and Ireland, she has taught writing courses at numerous colleges, most recently at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Likewise, she directs the summer program at The Hayden Carruth Museum Library, located in Munnsville, upstate N.Y. Poetry honored a selection of her work with the Tietjen's Memorial Award, while recent poems can be seen in Stone Canoe, an annual published in Syracuse, NY, and in the forthcoming March issue of The American Poetry Review.
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The Trouble with Expressing One’s Fondness for Insects
to Members of One’s Own Species Whom OneHad Heretofore Considered Kindred Spirits
 
 
After she praised
the magnificent
bat-sized wingspan
and tiger-yellow eyespots
on the wings, edged
with carnelian scales,
of the Giant Silkworm
Moth, Polyphemus,
(later identified
by Field Guide) whose
midnight visit she deemed
tantamount to a
Visitation, akin
to the royal turn taken
by the King Snake in
the great poem
by D. H. Lawrence,
and she had exhausted
her vocabulary in
attempts to verbalize
the sensation of its wings
and thickly lashed
antennae fluttering
against the insides
of her boxed hands
as she carried it
to the open window,
where she most
reluctantly, with a slight
pitch of her gathered,
upturned hands, gave
it back to the night,
and the warmth
it had given emptied
from her palms,
which, she kept
outstretched,
open to the night
far out past
the window casement,
a long time, above
the romancing
fireflies and below
the clear full moon
and stars, because
she had so liked
the look of that
universal gesture
of exasperation
combined with
supplication,
which her upturned
hands had chanced
to form, a primitive
bowl with its
implied readiness
for anything, that had,
along with the sexiness
of the dew beading
her exposed arms
and the pale skin
of those seldom opened
palms, made her glad,
as would her little
recitation of the encounter
for her Jersey shrink,
Dr. Morelli, gladden her,
during their scheduled
phone visit, since
she’d been pretty sure
he would share
her wonderment
at the giant moth
and her gladness
for this instance
of grace that even
an inveterate atheist,
like herself, must
count a blessing,
when after a series
of odd noises, not snores,
but like snores, he said,
Moths, eh? Well,
I can only tell you
my dear, I do give
them a head start,
she felt a little sick
in the belly, and
was sorry she had
to ring off. Really,
she could have
vomited. And to
think the consult
was on her dime.
The man was
a mosquito, and that
would be the last
time she would share
her passion
for insects with any
member of mankind.
Nothing against
Dr. Morelli. Merely,
further evidence, was all,
that she and her
entire species,
having  lost touch
with live beauty,
had lost its senses
and gone, or at best,
was growing, steadily,
irremediably buggy.
Then, again, could
be Morrelli had it
just about right: she simply
had too much
time on her hands.
She needed to get
out doors more, pick
up  a bite.
 
 
 
The Trouble with Underwear
                  for Holmes Leroy Hutson
 
He said, “Are you sure
   washing them won’t
be a problem?” She said,
   “No trouble. But I understand,
I have the same problem,”
 
 then failed to add,
“with other people
   washing my underwear.
Keeping them on
   was always my trouble.”
 
“No problem,” he might
   have said if she had said
what she had ought.
   She considered that
her typical, shall we say, laconic
  
   speech problem might spell
trouble, when shortly after
   their brief exchange
he took off
   with her car keys
 
and money. “Birdseed,”
   he had said. “Birdseed.’
“Going for a pack of smokes,”
   her Father had said, and then
they didn’t see him again
  
   for a long, long time.
Though she did laundry,
   as a child, she could not recall
whether he had been a boxer
   or a briefs’ man.
 
Some things strike us
   as funny that ought not;
God’s gift, perhaps, to see us
   through the decline
of our species. So many
 
   jokes about underwear
and extinction. No. He would return
   the money and hand her
the bag of birdseed, a treat
   on him, before he placed the ring
 
of keys back on its tiny hook.
   They had know each other
for ages; he knew her history
   of panty trouble, inside and out.
And, besides, he was
  
   a mathematician. She would
say a poet, but they meant
   trouble, when just now she desired
comfort. Mathematics was
   a long-standing, species-specific
 
comfort, keeping wild minds
   in march-step for generations. Meanwhile,
she would maybe wash
   his underwear or write him
a little poem. No saying which
   would be more trouble.
 
She did not wish to humiliate him,
   and underwear was a problem.