My Poetry

All poems are the original work of Sheria Reid. Please do not copy without permission. Copyrighted.

For Women Who Wait

If I were a beautiful woman,
I’d feed blood oranges to my lover—
one segment at a time—
somewhere in Italy, on a veranda.

If I were a beautiful woman,
I’d wear orange chiffon with a scarlet scarf
and enter rooms like a sunrise.

If I were a beautiful woman,
something beyond this fleshy monolith—
I’d dance the merengue,
be the coquette with strangers,
launch a thousand ships in my name.

But being less than ordinary,
being downright plain,
being not beautiful—

I simply wait.


Magdalene of the Shadows

The thing about shadows is this—
darkness swallows them whole,
without light they do not exist.
The great masters understood the juxtaposition
of light and shade,
the sublimation of bright to dark.
So Monsieur de La Tour paints Mary by candlelight,
a woman in chiaroscuro,
the other Mary,
the whore,
remembered for her skills in foot washing,
her sweet perfumes.
What secrets does she hide in the dark hues that embrace her?
The gaze intent on the white heat of the flame,
a skull resting so casually in her lap,
what darkness wraps around her soul,
bowing her head with such despair?


Waiting for Someday

Sleeping Beauty never married the prince.
For the first 25 years she dreamed of him nightly,
heard the clip clop of his horse’s hooves
on the courtyard stones;
trembled as his boots pounded the marbled stairs;
imagined his breath hot on her mouth.
In the second quarter her dreams grew less intense.
Details began to elude her--
his horse’s hooves mute against the cobblestones--
his tread upon the marbled stairs muffled.

After seventy-five years her dreams stopped altogether.
She lay alone,
wrapped in the shadows of the life she once knew.
Outside the castle walls
red roses married their thorns with the iron gates.
After one hundred years he came,
cutting his way through the tangled vines,
leaving rose petals in his wake,
taking the stairs two at a time
until he stared at the face of legend.

Her lips, flushed and ready, beckoned--
without hesitation, he bestowed the kiss.
For a moment her eyelids fluttered,
her lips curled as if remembering some pleasantry,
then with a sigh she turned her head and returned to her slumber,
wearing her solitude like armor,
happily ever after as meaningless
as the dust covering a castle one hundred years old.

Tulip Harvest

A woman with black and white sensibilities
lives in a salmon colored house
with shutters painted brown
on the upscale side of town.
She does tulips in the spring,
wins prizes for her gardening.
The neighbors all admire
her tulips blooming bright.

But sometimes late at night,
when the house breathes far too loud,
she slips into the darkness and kneels among the blooms.
Her scissors catch the streetlights,
as carefully she prunes.

Each guillotined blossom barely makes a sound
as all that glorious color collects upon the ground.
Night swallows her secret,
mutes the clicking of the blades;
stars bear silent witness,
nothing is revealed.

The rising sun her handiwork displays.
The neighbors all give comfort—
How awful! What a shame!--
Assigning all the blame
to nameless vandals marauding through the dark.


The Handmaid

and Sarah said to Abraham, ‘The Lord has not given me any children. Sleep with my slave, and if she has a child, it will be mine.'—Genesis 16:1-4

barren, his wife was barren
or so it appeared
that’s how he came to my bed

he was so old
his hands, the nails curiously flat and dark,
scurried across my thighs as if expecting some rebuff
--no, stop, don’t—
but I tolerated his desire
though I turned my lips away

he kissed my cheek instead
his beard like desert sand scraping against my skin

for an old man he showed much vigor
thrusting, grunting, groaning—
then silence

in time I gave him his son
she, who set all in motion, watched my son grow
and grew fertile in her displeasure


There Be Monsters

The images on the screen kick you in the guts,
...smoke and ash…smoke and ash...

Smoke rises from the oil,
onions, peppers, a little garlic
a woman in her kitchen
stirring, preparing
her eyes on the clock
always on the clock.

On the flickering screen, horror and hate,
smoke and ash...

She grips the spoon,
absorbs herself in tomatoes and basil,
listens for the footsteps, the metal on metal of key and lock.

"Did you hear...have you seen...all those people..."
her voice falls into the silence of expectation.

"A shame," he tells her, "a damn shame."

His words match her horror,
together watching smoke and ash...smoke and ash

But there is too much salt or too little,
too much basil or not enough,
always too much or too little.

She surrenders to the horror of the fist in the face,
wraps herself in smoke and ash
knowing that the monsters are always under the bed.


There Is Nothing Original In Suffering

For every poem about love fulfilled,
there are written
one hundred times one hundred of love forsaken.

For every promise of love forever,
Jove’s mirth fills the arch of heaven,
for it is written that love’s perjuries conjure laughter.

Abandoned lovers,
swaddled in denial,
believe aches of the heart
to be a solitary pain,
newly born to the betrayed.

And so poets,
knowing there is nothing original in the sufferings of the heart,
write one hundred times one hundred of hearts mangled,
blinding lovers to a knowledge
much sharper than love broken--
that it has all been done and will be done again.




4 comments:

The Edge Columns said...

And so a poet you are. I like 'For Women Who Wait.' Men wait, too, but not the same way. They wait to feel, to be felt.

Nice to see you.

Lydia said...

Your poetry is astonishingly powerful and quite beautiful. As the comment above mine said, you are a poet.

Came here via the long route. We are both facebook friends of Tom Degan and I just posted a comment about post-911 memories of hearing "Coming Home" by Dvorak at his page, and you "liked" it. I clicked on your fb page, found your blog, decided to come by. Am very glad I did!
(I use my middle name in blogging, thus it differs from fb...darned confusing.)

Capt. Fogg said...

Sheria,

That poem at the top is stunning - truly.

And Bearden!

Sheria Reid said...

Thank you, Dear Captain Fogg.