Capable Heart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Non-fiction poem

Submitted: May 24, 2018

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Submitted: May 24, 2018




By A. Guinevere Kern


Despise you, new wife of old husband.

Trouble lapping the edges

Of my new life, you are my Nemesis:

Pock-marked, knife-scarred, tooth-twisted

And tattooed -- fake red talons,

Smarmy low-slung low-rent blouse,

How could my ex marry

A stripper from the Block?

Ten years, setting your fakes in me

For the unforgivable sin of wedding

Him, before there was a you.

Pain, vexation and a peevish pox.

You cannot even give him children, as I did

So for 1700 dollars worth of futile tests

On that anti-natal womb,

Every year you confide to me

That you are, at last, pregnant.

Every year you are not, and I laugh.


Seventeen foster homes had you, incorrigible

Past sixth grade you did not go back.

Your teenaged first husband beat your skin.

You have no mother.

Now you are telling everyone that I

Am your sister. For no other way

Can you define and bear

The relationship between your man

And the mother of his children.

You imitate my clothes, my words, my hobbies

And since he won't let you strip anymore,

You sit home, drink, clean up, call me up

And be a nuisance, bragging about all the goods

He buys you, that he wouldn't buy for me.

Informing all your neighbors that my girls

Are really Your daughters, and that I

Am your sister! If I were bitch enough

I'd tell ya . . . every year

On our anniversary former, your husband phones

And begs me to take him back!


Bran bread hoists its belly in my oven

Spreading fragrant fertility.

The phone wails . . . it's you.

You are actually preggers this time, 

Artificially inseminated and queasy, 

Morning sick 'til night.

You sound miserable and exhilarated.

I feel a little happy for you, you scuz.

Maybe now you'll grow up and leave

My girls to me.

I instruct on prenatal care and hear

The scratching of the pen long distance.

You are writing everything down

Laboriously in a sixth grade hand.

You have no mother.

The farm has made you brown and fat, you say.

We hang up, gently this time.

My bread crusts and blackens as

I'm still sitting kitchen table-wise

Smirking and thinking I shall soon

Be rid of your detoured affection.


Cruel, the telephone jangles cruelly, 

I answer, it is the ex.

The fetus has died. Terrified doctors

Have anesthetized her and committed D & C.

Insensitively they have roomed her

In the maternity ward.

She is insane and grieving, fisting 

Her hair out in hunks, inconsolable.

Sobbing, exclaims the ex

For her sister, Big Sister!

Dosed to the teeth on Thorazine.

Also, her pet cat has died of old age.

Will you come, he asks anxiously?


No angel, tellurian or astral, ever

Flew faster than this devil. I drove

Furious, trees searing away like ripped blessings.

I wondered if there was near enough Thorazine

On this planet to ever solace

Her quavering love and desire for children, 

Her huge and capable heart.

She has no mother.

She has a sister.


~Copyright 1997

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