May 30, 2019

The Poetry of Emily Strauss

The Poetry of Emily Strauss
I Will Be Buried with Mice
Archaeologists in Egypt have recovered about 50 mummified animals,
including mice, from a well-preserved and finely painted tomb.. NYT 4/6/19
My name is Ta-Shirit. Let my tomb
be painted in ochre and lapis
with falcon wings outspread
on the lintel. See my life.
There sits my husband Tutu
on his throne watching over us.
I hold my daughter's hand
another falcon glides by.
She plays hand games
as the mice run underfoot.
I love them all, my young
husband who comes with furry
animals for me to pet, who
brings our beautiful child
into the winter sun, the second
wife sweet and doting to us.
We are happy together.
The mice eat crumbs
their rustling at night a sign
that day would return;
all would be right as the river
flows silently past our door.


The Wreck
the wreck sits alone on the lot, waits—
the air bag hangs from the steering wheel
like a giant flaccid condom
we acknowledge the implosion of glass
and steel, body crumpled beyond hope,
bodies long removed, dry blood stains
waits— for the wrecker to winch it
onto the flat-bed truck, holds it down
with metal bands like an asylum inmate
devoid of volition, an inert mass bound
and limp, a creation uncreated, its
brokenness manifest, a reject, waits.

Old Fence
The fence of the vacant house is falling.
Old wood, splintered by wind and snow
blown for years, like teeth gone black
and falling out— an old man's mouth
that needs fixing.
I'm mentioning it to the next inspector
who comes along. The city isn't caring.
Look, it's swaying, it is falling tonight.
It has leaned like that for years.
Because snow is forgiving.

The Plundered Heart
Yearning dwells
in this present circle—
yet we plunder creation
and the circle closes.
The creation's presence
for long days and nights
surrounds the orbiting
heart, and grace
falls within us.
We fall to the center
where yearning dwells,
into the circle
of moments, the gift
of time visible here
where some say a creator
dwells. Grace mantles us
day and night, orbits
surround us, we long
for the present heart
plundered for creation.

Ghazal on Smoke
half that summer we roasted in a thick pale
haze that smelled of distant smoke
swirling, roiling clouds stronger
than any pine needle incense, smoke
rises and falls in the heat, ghostly white,
drifts through open windows, smoke
uninvited, unwanted, people compare
notes, should windows be closed from smoke?
Or shall we just carry on as usual
with our lives, ignore all that smoke
clogging our throats, giving us sharp headaches
air quality hazardous today, the smoke's
ash particles over 250 parts per million, red zone
on the charts. Yet the neighbors smoke and smoke
their cigarettes on the porch all day as always,
coughing, but not cannabis, that's dangerous smoke
ought to stay illegal, they nod in collective wisdom,
it's only an accident that all those trees smoke.
Fires a hundred miles away in the next state,
our eyes burn at their almost sweet smoke
after lightning struck one Sunday morning
during that summer's only storm, new smoke
arising from dozens of infernos, sparks in the dry
forest torching whole towns, more smoke.


Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 450 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.


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