Poets Online Archive

From reading "In Defense of Marriage" by Olena Kalytiak Davis from And Her Soul Out of Nothing, you do not get an easy defense of marriage.
It is not what most poems about marriage sound like, and it may take a few readings to see meaning.
Our subject this month is much simpler: marriage, in any form and in any manner.


It’s a word that I associate with my parents,
though my peers seem unbothered by this association.
I look out for him and think I see him
passing by on the street,
at the next table eating the same thing I ordered,
wearing a shirt I would buy him,
looking at books in the poetry shelves,
taking one off to read alone at a table.
I want to go to his table and sit in the empty chair
and he will look over only only  to see what I am reading
and then shift in his seat so that his right leg slides
gently between mine and rests.

I want to - but I don’t,
because I know it is the loose stone underfoot,
the unexpected car approaching on a curve,
the knife that slips,
the nights he left me sore,
bruised on my thighs
where his hand had been.

Pam Milne


Across from me, you study the
warm coffee and cold tea between
us where I waited when I
could have been anywhere else.

"I need my space. I'm not getting
any younger." I nod agreeably,
my mind sifting this '60's jargon,
looking for signs of anything

relevant to this day- this place.
30 years of quietly listening to
a leaky faucet you could never
fix and I lacked the tools to help.

You grimace when I look
directly at you and find
a place to avoid my gaze, the
napkin holder, where I see

my image staring back solemn
no longer young, but creased
wise beyond the image I hold
of a hopeful girl with firm

thighs dancing at midnight
in a borrowed blue dress
just to impress you. There's a
mistake in all of us which leads

us here to warm coffee and
cold tea where you decide that
you are the only one who has
experienced growth and change.

Karen A. Kimbell


your head next to mine
on the pillow
i look at my so-new-to-me-body
taking accepting developing strange shapes
the way you wanted it
to make that ring mean
you're mine



It's tough, you know
living and loving as long as i have
but somehow he makes it easy...
a pleasure, laced through with a sweet,
sweet ache,
that makes everything bearable
and i know that sounds a little naive
and it is the same cliché...
but that is what he means to me
and that is all i feel in his ensconcing arms
and all i yearn for day to day....
but it's tough when things fall apart
and maybe this ache dulls with time
but maybe it is just replaced with
a want for memories
and the same feeling there was
this morning

Brandi Semler


Love does not appear to have been a factor
at its inception, though if children were in mind,

I begin to wonder even more,
since that adhesive seems to have lost its hold.

The very fact that we call it an institution
suggests a sort of mental breakdown-

What were we thinking?

A kind of lunacy:  broad brick buildings,
bars on windows, straight-jackets,

the screaming locked inside,
where no one will hear it.

Susan Kaye


My first marriage was arraigned by fate and my
first born.  I did not mind, what else would I be doing?
My heart was protected then by my little ones.
Pain can not penetrate baby kiss droppings.  He left me
and our television for a woman who could decorate a room.

The second time, more was at stake.  My little ones
grew, moving away from me, happy making their own
beds.  So now this was my time.  For intimate touches,
shared silences.  He left me for a room I decorated and the
blaring television.

The third time ..... (Enough is enough)

Kitty Jarman


If I measured your worth
by the number of touchdowns
I missed this season
while you dusted around me
humming "Calcutta,"

or if I considered
your habit of calling
"Supper Dear!" just when the wax
has turned white on the Ford,

and if I counted
your urgent call to the office
for "green beans and bread
on your way home, Hon"--
just when Gallagher was ripping
my head off and loving it--

or your total disregard
of his barely concealed impatience
when you breeze by the office
sing-songing, "Good day, Mr. Gallagher!"

the feel of your insistent lips on mine
and the warmth of your sleeping
face against my chest still
would be the bottom line
for this bean counter.

Rebecca A. Ault

for eternity
my heart is yours
and yours mine
entwined in the ancient
dance of passion
our souls come to
be as one
never mistrusting
or doubting each other
as we create
our lives and new lives
to go forth
into the world
to someday dance
 in passion
and find
what we have found

Matthew Brady


His feet: like a concubine's
Sneakered crescents
A front porch rocker
Heavenward at heel and toe
Each foot lightly placed
A wince for each step

Her shoes: black wood platforms
One leather band on instep
Two toes curl over front
Heel off the back
White anklets stressed
No give no bounce no mercy
Clacking on concrete
An abacus at day's end

Some power transfers consequences
Perhaps to the greater love
Her cold feet on his legs for warmth
He draws the pain and abuse into himself
To carry her lighthearted through tomorrows

Down the ramp
Out the doors
They wheel their cart
Frugal and unsteady
His feet her litter
Her shoes toting the miles

Michael Z. Murphy


I hear him speak and his sounds
warm, deep, gentle
soothe me
but, when angry
his voice infuses with despair
like a mother helplessly watching
her child slip away

Margaret R. Saraco


When he lost the power to
        create, procreate, rejuvenate
                their love, it died.
No mechanical device
        or platitudinous advice
                could resurrect what once had been.
Quirks, charming in the past,
        grew bothersome.   Bodies offended
                 that earlier embraced.
Grief, once shared, comfort taken from each other
        was suffered now
                in solitude.
In time, even  memories
        lacked substance,
                listlessly draping a shrouded past.

Diane Smith

When i look and see you there,
I find myself starting to stare.
I try to pull away,
But your eyes have something to say.
The way you stand,
It makes you look as though you're in command.
The way you act so carefree,
It makes me realize there is so much to see.
The way you talk sends chills up my spine,
Then it completely distorts my mind.
And then i know my dream had come true,
Because its not just me now, its me and you.

Karie Rothwell


It left a bitter taste on my tongue
that I tried to wash down with my own saliva.

But I could not, so finally I went out for a drink
and he quenched my thirst.

In dissolve is solve and in dissolution is a solution,
and if in every end is some beginning

then I will step gently into this river,
the water warm, the stones round and solid

the current urging but not pulling
and lie down, letting it take me.

Lianna Wright