November 27, 2010



Flying Low, D.C., 2009

I have Mother’s Day lunch at the Hay Adams
in a pastel room filled with light.
Outside the White House roses line the iron fence.
People place them and others take some.
Visitors talk to one another, to the Tac squad,
and a man in a motorized chair,
who seems to know everyone,
rides back and forth.
Demonstrators hold banners, End The War.

At the Freer in the butterfly garden
I watch a little boy who stands barefoot –
blue shirt, white underpants, arms outstretched.
Two laughing girls decorate him with caterpillars
like campaign ribbons,
hang them on his pale hands.
Police cars speed with black SUVs, flashing red lights,
screaming sirens for the President of Iraq.
Flying low, up Vermont Avenue,

a pair of drakes pump toward greenery,
head for water out of sight.

Bingen am Rhine

People run in the streets. Those who fall, ashes ashes. There on the balcony a small boy dressed in white.

A stone building – its wrought iron gates, mosaic floors, oriental rugs, so much more, left among twisted vines. That boy keeps: the tops of his grandfather’s boiled eggs, the jumping from wine barrel to wine barrel, marzipan cakes, the scent of decay.

Everything’s changed nothing’s changed. Today the sun dissolves and gray covers that star gazer, as memories come with drops of rain over Mainzerstrasse.
Au Revoir

I follow the black tip of a cheetah’s tail. Set your sights low, that’s what daddy taught. Winds blow hard and dirty, hot sand burns the feet.

A procession of red parasols winds it way to the temple. Coq fights along the road, pigs fattened for slaughter.

The cheetah runs her rough tongue up my naked calf and cradles me in her arms. Hold on to the beauty, hold on.
Song For South Africa

Didem, dadem, wadem, poo, swim says the mommy fishy opening her butterfly ears, but the penguin doesn’t budge. Black doors like mouths call, Gift, Blessing, Glory. Winged monkeys kiss their seashell cheeks. Unrelenting frogs fall on the vlei escaping razor blade stars. The young leopard drags a woman under his deck. He takes small bites of this tasty moon, dips a spoon into her side, holding a knife in the other paw. Snowy nougats taste yellow. Memories burn, but geese comb what stays, one honks, two eat remains. Old black women ride a ferocious wind. At the watering hole glittering eyes of wild dog blow on. Four lions loll in the grass licking their feet. The tracker on foot freezes. The mommy sings swim, swim if you can, and he swims and he swims all over the dam. The long neck of day turns to ash. How real the dead are: pebbles washed by song. Didem, dadem, wadem, poo – they swim and they swim. A man wraps them in plastic shrouds, scrubs them clean for God.




Melanie Stoff Maier was born and raised in San Francisco.  She earned a BS from the University of California, Berkeley and a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.  She practiced in San Francisco and Marin County before retiring to pursue writing poetry.  Melanie’s poetry has been published or is upcoming in reviews such as The Fourth River, Phoebe, and The Southern Review. Internationally her work has appeared in Gazeta Wyborcza,  Warsaw,  Poland. She has a full-length book of poems, sticking to earth, and a chapbook, The Land of Us, was published by Pudding House Press in 2009.

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