How Marlene Mae Longs for the Truth / Lois Marie Harrod

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dancing girl press, 2013

 Lois Marie Harrod won the Tennessee Chapbook Prize 2012 (Poems& Plays) with her manuscript The Only Is. Her 11th book Brief Term, poems about teaching, was published by Black Buzzard Press (2011), and her chapbook Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook contest (Iowa State University). Her chapbook Furniture won the 2008 Grayson Press Poetry Prize. Previous publications include the chapbook Firmament (2007); the chapbook Put Your Sorry Side Out (2005); Spelling the World Backwards (2000); the chapbook This Is a Story You Already Know (l999); Part of the Deeper Sea (1997); the chapbook Green Snake Riding (l994), Crazy Alice (l991) Every Twinge a Verdict (l987). She won her third poetry fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts in 2003. Over 400 of her poems have been published online and in print journals including American Poetry Review, Blueline, The MacGuffin, Salt, The Literary Review, Verse Daily and Zone 3. A Geraldine R. Dodge poet and former high school teacher, she She presently teaches Creative Writing and supervises student teachers at The College of New Jersey as well as teaches in the Evergreen Forum at Princeton Senior Resource Center.

Marlene Mae Advises Her Daughter

Nothing wrong with being slow,
goodness knows your aunt Lorraine was slow,
and your pa never would have caught up with me
if I hadn’t slowed down and twitched my back blinkers,
but sometimes you have to step on it,
or you’ll end up with that pile of plastic roses and teddy bears
at the side of the road.

I know your grandmother wants you to dawdle along,
get your degrees, but listen, good girls go to college
and bad girls go everywhere, I’ve been to Tallahassee,
and look how Aunt Alice ended up,
a tumble-down trailer waiting for the next tornado
and an old dog on a rope. That’s her reward
for lingering through that Ph.D. in linguistics.
Might as well have been linguini for all the jobs she got.

Oh, I know your aunt says it wasn’t the studies
that did her in, it was the stuff she did
while studying. Those journals. Good girls keep diaries, I say,
bad girls don’t have time,
so just keep on writing if that’s what you want to do.
Take all your time in the world.
But I tell you, when a girl goes bad,
the men go right after her.
Don’t see none coming after you.