A Poem for Halloween

Hello, everyone,
I hope those of you in the valley will come to my free poetry reading this Monday,
October 29, at 7 pm at Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale. It is called Love, Death, and Halloween.  I’ll be reading with my friends Valerie Haugen and Kim Nuzzo, who also have new books out. We’ll be accompanied by cellist Sarah Graf.  The evening is sponsored by Aspen Writers Foundation and Thunder River Theatre. Please come!

Meanwhile, here is a Halloween poem for you all.

SEDUCTION

As they age, old vampires start to soften.
They seek out fewer victims. Even then, they steer
toward the sick, the dying. They oversleep–often–
delaying in their coffins well past moonrise. Here
and there, they pause to weep. They pocket
bitter souvenirs. Blood lust grows ever less hysterical,
shrinks to a flimsy craving. The oldest tourniquet
their prey, shame-faced baste up their wounds. An oracle
once said that regret can be erotic: That’s what
the graying vampire feels. Certainly, a raw priest
with a hair shirt and a rough cross, cut
into his flesh, has to be at least
as frightening as the vampire wasting on the shelf.
Tell me: Why would you fear an ancient like myself?

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My Book is Out!

NIGHT SHIFT NOW AVAILABLE AT AMAZON.COM

My book of poems, Night Shift, is now available at amazon.com

Please consider buying it.  And if you like it, please consider reviewing it.
And it makes a lovely gift!

On September 30, I will be the featured poet at Live Poetry Night at Victoria’s
Wine and Espresso Bar in Aspen (510 East Durant).  The evening goes from 6:30
to 9 p.m.  It begins with music from classical guitarist John Harrison, followed by
an open mic for poets, followed by my reading.  I will be reading from the book,
and I would love it if you could come.

Thank you so much for your support,

Karen Glenn

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If the Body’s a Temple

A CLIMBER SEES A MONK ON THE TRAIL

If the body’s a temple    then climbing
is praying.  There’s a prayer    in the timing

boot taps on the trail.     There’s a note    a throb
sensed in one step    the next   felt in timing

of heartbeat   of pulse beat    the rising pump
of each breath.  What’s the body’s own timing?

Its hum birth to death?   What’s the body’s rough
clock-tick    its engine   its psalm?    The timing

is rhythm   sweet bebop for God.   Listen
You hear it?    The body’s praise song?   Climbing.

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A Poem About My Grandfather

HIS HEART

My grandpa’s life was lean and tough,
a streak of gristle in the teeth of God.
He was a revenuer searching

for stills in North Florida’s piney woods,
a target for ticks my grandma
couldn’t scrub away–no matter how hard

she boiled that water–and for tick fever
no doctor ever cured.
But God must have loved him,

God knows why, making him fall asleep
on a damp mosquito night
staked out in a Buick behind

a moonshiner’s fire, slumped down
so far in that car his head
fell below the dashboard.

It was his partner, upright
in the driver’s seat, who took
the bullet. Grandpa stayed slumped

on the floor, invisible ’til morning,
drove home covered in his partner’s blood.
Yet it wasn’t a bullet or a tick

that finally killed him, just
his own inflexible heart.
He never learned to soften;

when the pressure built, that proud heart burst.
There was not much left inside it–
a few marbles and a rubber band,

a map of the piney woods, an old photo
of my grandma with a long brown braid
she’d cut off years and years before.

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A Poem about Grief

GRIEF

My father set aside ten thousand dollars
for my wedding day
but reduced it by one-fourth
each year I went to college.

I not only went to college;
I earned a Ph.D.
and my father didn’t live
to see me marry.

I didn’t cry in the hospital room
or later at his funeral,
but I wept at a stranger’s wedding
when the bride danced with her father.

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A Fairy Tale Poem

LOST

Hansel and Gretel, betrayed by birds
their trail markers eaten, made it home

at last, their faces smeared with cake,
the witch’s hallucinogenic icing.

Still no one believed their story.
Even their glad father figured

they were overdramatizing.
Later on, they wondered

if it was then they lost their way.
Should they have stayed

in the dark gingerbread forest forever
instead of coming home to homework,

school, chores and chopping wood?
So soon they lost their sense of fear

and wonder, thrill and sway;
so quickly, they slipped back

into the throb and squabble
of the everyday.

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A Travel Poem

MUSLIMS AT THE BEACH

On the ferry to Langkawi, a Malay girl in jeans
rides on deck, letting her head scarf slide

down her hair until the wind takes it.
On the island, a woman hikes up loose pants,

kick-starts a scooter, head scarf flowing out
below her helmet.  In the beach cafe

a waitress, head wrapped in white, smiles wide,
mixing mai-tais at the swim-up bar.

It’s a shock to see the woman in the chador.
She’s a black tent, an enormous crow,

a question mark, a Rorschach blot, a wall.
“Not from here,” a Malay matron hisses.

“Maybe an Arab state.”  The next day it’s 93 degrees.
She sits in her beach chair in that chador watching

the waves.  Tiny jewels frame the slit that shows
her eyes.  Her husband’s hand snakes along

her shoulders.  What does she think of her bright sisters?
What does she think of me, crossing the strand in shorts

and T-shirt to wade in warm, shallow water? I stare at her,
and she stares back.  Without a face, her dark eyes

tell me nothing.  Slowly she lifts the veil that hides
her mouth, takes one small taste of orange juice.

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