Stump Talk

pain not clear-cut
before legs like two Live Oaks
biceps my best feature now
do stumps speak of Man amputating?
word equals world

Richard Kaderli 10/22/06

The Hammer

There is a hammer lying on the floor of my bedroom
I want to pick it up but I don’t pick it up because
that would be a digression.

If I pick up the hammer,
it will leave an impression, hammer-shaped, in the rug because
it is heavy and has lain there all night.
it will look as if the hammer is still there
even after I have walked out of the room and put it
away in the toolbox.

The carpet will not let go of its hammer-shape; it is not grass
that will gradually lift itself after a night of heavy sleep.
It will only stand up if I run my fingers through the fibers
or vacuum; and if I vacuum, I will not stop
with the foot-square shape of hammer, but will run through the house
vacuuming carpets and no one will remember
there was a hammer.

Last night I brought the hammer into the bedroom
to unstick the window swollen with winter
because I was beginning to suffocate as the barometer dropped
toward rain.

Even now, though I am in the kitchen and it is raining at last,
I am thinking about the hammer and what it is doing alone
in the bedroom pressing carpet fibers to the floor.
It presses silently and does not move in any direction
except down. It does not inch toward home but plows
through my thoughts with the claw end made for prying
and getting things unstuck.

And what will I discover inside but another toolbox
full of anxious hardware: the screwdrivers, the pliers and directress
and an empty space at the back
for the hammer.

The Hammer appeared in Poets On: Forgetting , Vol. 18, Summer, 1994.

Nancy lives in Sebastipol, CA and has been a poet most of her life. I knew her before she was famous back in 8th grade. Eventually she will be world famous and now you can say you have read her before that time.

Here is another exceedingly wonderful poem which she wrote about an area not far from Point Reyes. Kinda makes you wanna go see it, I think.

Lagunitas Trail, End of Spring

Thinking about pain and lupine,
and the patched grass cut
to make a trail to the sea.
wild beside the plowing. Dark
vermouth of the earth exposed—
river of what was. The giving
nature of sand coming down.
For weeks, I forget who my
friends are.
Names called out along the path,
stray hawk kree sailing the
salt air,
and the ocean close, dashing
against the land’s base where
we began.
Layers of vegetation arc beneath
what wears away. How many times
have I? Ribbons of loam at my
fossilized shell, and the
summer to come.
Redwing song anchored in this
How many times? re-crossing my
own path.

And here is another one of mine about being an amputee.

Order of The Dear

Aching a good thing, show’s me there’s life.

I am oh so tired, I am throwing away my life.

It’s day / night, can’t tell–the incandescent light

Shines above the valise. It’s always cold inside.

You’re going to shake and shiver, beg me for a drug,

Says Nurse through her ire and fallen arches.

I, consumed by inspiration and expiration try to abide

To rules of no screaming, no cursing–

Wind blows linden and larches.

Breath must out, must draw like cracked mud dried

Like the catheter inside my prick it’s dug.

Nurse, so right yet I’ve my drip of morphine

Through Intravenous, secure clocked feeder to my blood.

Condescending wizened smile she knows her junkie.

I’ll come apart, beg, promise anything to get the labored breath

To muffle pain, to have a shot or pill and monkey kill

Or if not then take it off my back without my own death.

Relaxing neck, back, ribs and chest, I ease, I rest

With my sleep she clocksout at the dais of the Order of the Dear.

8-11-01 RLK

by the Nile by the Tigris
under the pomegranate tree
you were my sigh.
cool lips red-stained, soft arms
my medicine.
a smoke of distant pyres
rose only to give sweeter meaning
to the perfume
of your thighs.

by the Indus by the Tiber
in the ruined temples where the songbirds
sang and made their nests
you were my refuge.
cups we drained of wine
and laughter as the smoke of burning cities
rose to give a desperate meaning
to the perfume
of your breasts.

by the Rhine by the Mississippi
in our hiding place
among the holy trees
you were the sorrow of a sweet goodbye
before they came for us with guns,
with money, with the cross,
to separate the earth from sky,
flesh from spirit,
you from me.


Frank Stauf | FStauf@urology.ucsf.edu | IP:

I spank your ass
to purify my love
until all saints
bow down

let me forget
my name
I have no use for it
where I live now

love take me
where sad children wise and solemn
peel my skin
to make a sail

let me forget
my pain
I have no name for it
where I live now


More Poems from Nancy Cherry


yesterday my mother stomped
one hundred & eighty-two snails
while my father fished at topaz lake.
every year he takes the trailer
& her applecake to the mountains
and she gardens. then she calls
to report the numbers-today
it’s 25 for her, 10 for my father.
her garden counters with more
snails as she battles ivy, oxalis,
four o’clocks & arthritis in her knee.
but it’s the northern scottish pine
i’ve named their ‘sticky-wicket’.
planted in a barrel, my father’s
pushed it into prominence beneath
the kitchen window. my mother
doesn’t want it there but she can’t
move it. maybe these will be the stories
my nephew tells his future children-
how we wrestled with our natures
and someone won.

I am not going to the moon after all

I am not going because, at 79, my mother says no.
She assures me that at 80, she will still say no.
She’s afraid I’ll fall out of the sky. I tell her
there is no sky on the moon, no blue atmosphere
circling, & nothing to fall out of along the way.
I tell her that in space, it’s like putting a rock
on a table, I’ll just stay there. But she won’t have it.
Besides, she says, there’s going to be war in space.
The headlines say ‘it’s inevitable’. So, for now,
I’ll have to stay here on this table
with the telephone, the computer, and all
these fine point Zebra pens.


2 Responses

  1. OK Richard. I think I get it. Here is mine.

    Waits Describes the European Blonde in the All Night Cafe

    Your lips are the tawdry peels of an orange.

    Your array, that of the male quail, shows the flair of Glenda’s regalia in the Wiz of OZ.

    Though your stature is short, your hips rub up to the knot in my pants.

    When you stride down the Strip, your gait falls to the rhythm of a Swedish sled dog.

    And your big toe is the boundary that the nightscope sniper chooses to blow off your head.

    Paris 06

  2. Intelligent poetry. I like it. 🙂

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