Room 74 • Poetry Hotel 

Six Poems / Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb

 

                        

CIRCE OF PRESCOTT

 

The herd of peccaries is increasing.

Neighbors suspiciously watch my yard,

noticing I recently bought livestock pans

to strategically place water here and there

to accommodate the growing groups

of white-collared, bristled beasts.

Not an evil enchantress, just a crone

with a venomous disposition

toward odysseys of the technological kind,

I innocently hold a water bucket

and greet onlookers’ bewilderment--

Isn’t it lovely to live

on the edge of the wilderness? But water

is so rare in the high desert this time of year.

Clusters of sniffing snouts and dainty hooves

trot around, brushing against my legs.

I point at the knee-high creatures--

Did you know they can drink enough

in one shot to go without for days?

The response is typical, irritated silence,

then a starting up of lawnmowers,

power saws, leaf blowers, weed eaters,

and other machines that invade the habitat

of my senses.  But I take comfort in knowing

that one day my backyard will be home

to all those people who have crossed my space. 

-------------------------

120 YEARS OLD IS A GOOD EXPECTATION

          (If You Don’t Outlive Your Money)

I plan to live forever,

my husband tells the agent,

both of them aware

that his answer defies

actuarial science, any science.

It is just another question

on the form; how predict

longevity (actually your death)

if age transcends the formula?

 

Seriously, Sir, I can’t help you

assess financial security

without your estimate, she says.

 

My husband puts the phone

on speaker and says to me,

Honey, do you have any idea

about when we might expire?

I think about fate, about accidents,

about miracles, about life—

and money to support it.

 

Tell the agent to plug in 120;

ask how much we would need

annually to live comfortably and

if that amount can accommodate

cryogenic revival and such . . .

-------------------------

EARLY RETIREMENT—THE FIRST COURSE

                                   (for Terry)

 

It's like trying to mix a delicate salad

with a pitchfork and chain-saw,

you write a friend about retirement

 

after all those years of waiting

to be free; now you are

a full-time writer

 

and it terrifies you; the educator

wants all his characters

to be informative and respected

 

by students—a general audience.

Your protagonists mirror

professors—even the villains

 

have something worthy to impart,

some lesson they carry. Your life

has evidently become a bowl of greens.

 

Have you considered using your hands

for more control when tossing it?

-------------------------

TWO GRIZZLY BEARS—A TITLE THAT DOESN’T SAY IT ALL

 

When late autumn held

its windy breath for one day,

we risked going back

over Sylvan Pass; suddenly,

somewhat unexpected

by us, they seemed to rise

a few feet ahead, emerging

from yesterday’s snow—

two golden grizzlies,

a mother and yearling cub,

quietly crossing the icy road,

no doubt to return to a den

nearby and hibernation.

This is the point where

 

to really capture the reader,

I should have some profound

image, preferably a metaphor

in present tense—they are

some light-edged darkly

ursine beasts bestowing

rebirth after death, or perhaps

they dwell as archetypes

or maybe as forms to fear

shaped in ancestral memory, 

massive carnivores, growling,

flesh-clawing creatures eating

bloody scalps in cavernous

corners of the human mind—

anyway, something clever

 

to show not tell; well,

for the sake of this poem,

I’m telling you

that I feel I have betrayed

the beauty of these bears,

snow-deep, graced by sunlight,

an immense moment’s integrity

now lost behind mighty

but oh so mundane words.

-------------------------

THE MAN WHOSE NAME I NEVER KNEW

     (During the Covid Pandemic—April 2020)

 

A man whose name I never knew

has something urgent to tell me.

 

He must have seen me from his car

as he passed the courthouse square,

 

the only place I now feel safe to walk

with the damned virus shutting down

 

everything, closing lives, opening

distances. He used to come here

 

in the morning with his wife

who used a walker while he waited

 

patiently for her to finish one block,

then guide her gently to the car

 

and wave good-bye to me.

This man whose name I never knew

 

stands reaching out in twilight,

motions for me to stop, which I do

 

not because he’s not wearing a mask,

yet he keeps moving toward me.

 

I hear what he is saying, but don’t care

that he is crying, trying to tell me—

 

coming closer, closer, closer;

as much as I want to care, instead

 

back away as he continues forward.

I can’t care, even as he shouts his wife

 

died last night. I hold my hands out,

not to hug, but, rather, say, “Six feet away!”

-------------------------

EVIDENCE OF SPIRIT

 

               Embodied spirituality requires an understanding

               that nature is not inanimate and less than

               human, but animated and more than human.

 

                                  -- George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

                                                Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied

                                                Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought

 

Here is my spirit:

hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen,

and carbon-based, night regions

spirally bound and ringing

the center of the soul,

DNA phosphatefully linked,

rich in ribose,

but nothing sugary is coated

into the elements

crafting sweet civilization

from the culture of the Earth,

an integrity of integument,

a membrane of species,

10 million cellular expressions,

family connections-- 

only 1.5 million named.

 

Even in this postmodern game,

the brain form

contents itself with relativity,

ecologies of morals,

and textual journeys; myth

may define boundaries,

but edges depend on electrons

stitching the soul

into an evolutionary weave,

the universe animated

by that exquisite electrogenesis

where dwells the nature

of human spirit.​

-------------------------

About the Author

Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb dwells with her husband in the high desert of Arizona among ravens, peccaries, tarantulas, and a variety of odd political

creatures unknown five years ago; however, half her heart remains waiting for her in Yellowstone—which restores her psyche every year.  Her

poetry and prose have appeared in many literary journals over the years, including more recently About Place Journal, High Desert Journal,

The Midwest Quarterly, Weber: The Contemporary West, Stickman Review, and others, as well as medical journals such as AJN: The American

Journal of Nursing, Medical Literary Messenger, and CHEST (Official Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians), and science fiction/

pulp publications, including Utopia Science Fiction Magazine and Serial Magazine. She has been an educator, a researcher, and an editor, and is co-

founder of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit natural history/  environmental press.  Her chapbook, Shapes That Stay, is forthcoming in December 2021

(Alabaster Leaves Publishing/Kelsay Books).

Acknowledgements

“Circe of Prescott” first appeared in The Chaffin Journal (2004) and was reprinted in Petrichor Review 5 (2014);

“Evidence of Spirit” first appeared in New Century North American Poets (River King Poetry Press 2002).

Photo Credit: "Eve in Badlands" by Terril L. Shorb 

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