Poems by Viola Weinberg

weinbergkissinginmonetsgarden

(Photo entitled Kissing in Monet’s Garden–Viola Weinberg and Peter Spencer)

Monet’s Kitchen

Come down here, Monet!

Come down here now
My little cabbage

It is morning and light
Is splashing on sparkling tiles
The copper pans
Are shimmering solar jewels

Come down here, Monet
My strong-eyed darling
I will stream your chocolate
And spread the bread
With clouds of butter and honey

Come down here, Monet
Come down here right now
My sweet Billy goat
And I will splay my legs
Across the cook’s blue table

Come down here, Monet
Before the servants
Take their station
Beating bread dough
On flowered boards

Come down here, Monet
My hungry child
And bathe with me
In the violent blaze
Of geranium and iris

Come down here, Monet
Come down here now
The room is trembling
With steaming pots
On a cantankerous wood stove

Come down here, Monet
My darling farmer
While spring flings itself
Through open windows
And checkered curtains wave

Come down here, Monet
Come down here immediately
And see the small bird
Flying against the blue plane
Of the high clean ceiling

Come down here, Monet
Come down if you value
Your reputation as an artist

Come down here and bring your taste
For redheads and roses
And blue and yellow hues

Come down here, Monet
I am crushing the peppermint
For your first cup of tea
And chasing hummingbirds
With the skirts of my apron

Come down here, Monet
My slice of ginger
I am arranging flowers
For the grotto above
The deep wooden sink

Come down here, Monet
In your blue silk robe
Come down hungry and thirsty
Let your eyes weep in the light

Come down here, Monet
In your blue silk robe
Come down hungry and thirsty
Let your eyes weep in the light
Let the sun fall on your face

Come down here, Monet
I am boiling your eggs
And cutting your peaches
With pearl-handled knives
That flash with my wrist

Come down here, Monet
My big buck in the garden
Come down here and do it quickly

Come down here, Monet
And bring your paints
And that urgent palette

Come down here, Monet
I am half-naked and barefoot
In the hot heart of your house

Come down here, Monet
The pomade of a new day
Is thick in both of my hands

Come down here, Monet
Before the light changes
And the flowers fade

Come down here, Monet
Before the season turns
And the milkman arrives

Come down here, Monet
The water lilies are full
And my hair is tangled

Come down here, Monet
Let the lilacs precede you
Let the pomegranates deceive you

Come down here, Monet
And bring blue silk ribbons
For the big, healthy girl in the kitchen

Come down here, Monet
Ride hard and ride fast
And don’t spare the horses

Come down here, Monet
My heart is beating like a drum
With a skin made of hours

Come down here, Monet
And let’s die full of light
In a chamber of flowers

© 1991 Viola Weinberg

 

A Return to Monet’s Garden

Among the dinner plate dahlias

with their candy-stripes and

russet flags, below the lilacs’

lavish crown on a Japanese bridge

We pose like Claude and Alice—

weathered and seasoned

in our beautiful Borsolino hats

in our finery and nervous smiles

With grown children to share

and grandchildren already in-arms

with the sun pointed midway

on our ornate and strange sundial

We are here, proving that even

the forlorn, the beaten poets and their poems

from long storms of reality, even those with

pure pain flowing freely from an artery

Even these poor, shivering birds

in this one mighty tree can fly again

Frightened but brave, we both step into

thin air with intense, deeply-held delight

It is afternoon, time to softly coo

It is the long sun on a cold wall of stones

The puzzle has been solved by the puzzled:

Love, when allowed, builds a palace of itself

© 1997 Viola Weinberg

 

Rain at Hell’s Place

This poem was written after viewing a series of photographs by the great photographer Nadar, who documented the re-internment of six million permanent Parisians.

Imagine the photographer

His excitable eye red and blinking

As he roams the perimeter of d’Enfer –

The forgotten quarry . . .

Cut, used up, pounded and gouged

Bubbling with pebble and slag

 

At the center, a sad fire smoldering

A lonely quill of thin smoke

Rising from the pit, a drizzled flag

He moves from south to north

And back to west, leaving east

To the wagons of bones coming in

 

His billowing cape, black and full

Has a lacy pattern at the shoulders

From falling rain, rain at Hell’s Place

It shines with wetness, his feathered

Hat sinks under the weight of it

His camera safely bound in canvas

 

The sight of it inspires dark awe

Six million Parisians going once again

To their final resting place, this time

In loaded buckboards, heaved down

By shivering, bare-headed men:

A fore born nuisance for the architects of Paris

 

The history of the world’s most beautiful city

Falls here, bone after skull, in the ashen light

As the day wears on, the photographer

Removes his cape and sets up the tripod

An enormous camera engulfs his head

In its sleeve, and together, the memorial begins

© 1999 Viola Weinberg

 

In the Marketplace of the Sensitive

Even the fish have names:

Pierre the Pike

Marcel the Monkfish

Each one lies

A petal on ice

As the vegetarian

Fishmonger deeply

Regrets his profession

© 1997 Viola Weinberg

 

In the Hat Shoppe on rue St. Honoré

The girl with long, pale fingers

Strokes a chocolate brown fedora

© 1997 Viola Weinberg

 

At Le Crémerie-Restaurant Polidor

We sip the common man’s wine

Drink the pumpkin soup, so orange

So sweet that Hemingway

Fell in love with it, imagine!

Pumpkins and cream and

Beautiful waitresses from Africa

Their arms full of white bowls of it

Imagine me there, in the locket

Of literary longitude, my white hair

Red again, my waist recovered

There, at le Polidor, escaping

Rain and cobbles and the gloomy

Societė du Poets Franςoise

Down the street where the existentialists go

I am here, now, full of sass, my big ass

Facing the window, I don’t care

Poems forming on the flap of my eyelash

Something, I don’t know what, running

Through my creamy skin and up

Through the rough bread and the salted butter

Through the German who keeps talking, talking

We are tucked in this place, full of

Old French ladies with big bags

Of little dogs, and I am feeling it

Feeling the power of le Polidor

Where Hemingway and possibly Sartre

Said they loved something

Something smooth and warm

And for dessert, Absinthe, my love

© 2009 Viola Weinberg

 

Beautiful Solitude

for Monsieur Edw. Cahill of Montparnasse

There is no romance as rightful as that found, unbound

walking in a strange city in ringing silence, there is no

love greater than a poet falling in love with a place

where no one speaks her language and it’s raining

 

I know the sultry nights, the marbled stones, the absinthe

of dreaming in beautiful solitude, the intoxication of gas lights

breathing evenly along a small street off the avenue where you

have penned a word with blood red lipstick on a matchbook

 

taken from the drunken hand of a Russian sailor in a tiny

bar called Le Cave, where the vodka flows and everyone

is laughing, living and dying in the same breathless moment

and you don’t feel beautiful, as much as wondrous and invincible

 

I know the sense of being utterly alone, as if in a womb

impenetrable, an unflinchable tower of the heart pulsing in you

a city that was always waiting for you, as if this city is your

true mother and not that poseur you remember from a spanking

 

This place never grows old in your imagination, or even

in a waking hour when the spirit of all you wished for as

a girl has faded, and a dirty floor calls your name or

when dinner, banal and inconsequential, is still uncooked

 

Trust me, this romance will outlast the miasmic linoleum of tattered

wishing although, by its very nature, it is mysteriously shellacked

by desire, because this city, this poem of your nature, this is more

honest than any impetuous promise or bond, this, ma chérie, is fact

©2011 Viola Weinberg

Bio:  Viola Weinberg is the winner of numerous awards for her poetry, and the author of 10 books of poetry and a text on child abuse. She was named the first Poet Laureate of Sacramento, California in 2000. Viola was named “Woman of the Year” by the California State Commission on the Status of Women in 1979. She was short-listed in 2000 for the Thomas Wolfe Award for Fiction. She has served as visiting poet to several universities, and been awarded artist residencies.

Pushcart nominated, Viola has also been nominated for a Best of the Web award this year. She was named a Glenna Luschei Distinguished Poet in 2009. Viola is a retired editor and PBS producer who lives in rural Sonoma County in Northern California where she writes in a yurt.

 

 

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