National Poetry Month – Leslie M. Rupracht

In all the years I’ve known Leslie, this is probably the expression I most often see. She has an almost zen-like calmness about her. When we see and greet each other with a hug, there’s an immediate sense of peace. Yet she has this deep, expressive passion for the causes she cares about – the environment, politics, women’s rights – and her poetry covers all of that. And of course she’s passionate about the people she loves. Oh, and her rescue pit bull, Leeloo.

Her collection, Splintered Memories, is a moving tribute to her mom, but also the love between her parents. In Leslie’s own remembering, she reminds us of the importance of memories, and the fragility of memory itself. There is a longing for the mom who is no longer there, even before her mother passes away.

From Splintered Memories, published by Main Street Rag Publishing, posted with the poet’s permission.

 Going Away

She told him:

I’m a little crazy

an attempt to justify earlier

actions she couldn’t explain

 

It made him weepy

and gnawed at him that she

might actually believe

it was true

 

He assured her:

You’re not crazy, Honey

but she had no recollection of context

nor cause to appreciate his gesture

 

She calmly resumed her mission

of planning, piling, gathering and sorting

odd objects to pack in her purse, and

when full, requested her suitcase

 

Honey, we’re not going anywhere

he told her – yet again – stifling frustration

behind patience and a gentle but firm tone

when she challenged him

 

She looked at him as if he was crazy –

Of course they were going somewhere, maybe

to Queens, maybe Holbrook, the places of her

past lives, or maybe that place in her mind

 

where everything made perfect sense

and she walked on her own in gardens

of fertile soil that unearthed only

logical blooms.

 

Splintered Wood

“Two-hundred boards,”

Mom always emphasized –

“I pulled old rusty nails, by hand, from

two-hundred boards!”

 

The boards were red, splintered, heavy,

seventy-eight years weather-worn –

once siding on the 1898 hay barn,

 

destined by Dad’s design to be

repurposed as interior paneling

and kitchen cupboard doors

in the house that Dad built.

 

I helped,”

Mom reminded all who’d listen –

I pulled the nails from

two-hundred boards.”

 

Life Sentence

When the anti-gods of ailing

were doling out disease,

what made them choose

to give you so many?

 

You never deserved your lot.

Your list is long, but on it,

no cancer – you always said

 

I don’t do cancer. But maybe

a short course of breast cancer,

or something experts could

catch in time to cure . . . maybe

it would be worth the pain, hair

 

loss and fear just to know

that the demon – not you –

would soon pass.

 

But your curses are chronic,

progressive and unremitting.

I’d swiftly give up my left tit

to see you whole again.

 

This isn’t noble on my part,

it’s sheer selfishness.

I want my mother back.

 

Leslie’s answers to my questions ~

I’ve probably cast out of memory the earliest efforts, but two poems come to mind. One was about counting raindrops; the other was a haiku about a woven basket, which my mother wrote out in calligraphy on a construction paper basket I wove in class. I recall she volunteered to do that for all the kids in my class, and everyone’s haiku were displayed for parent/teacher night. I was ten or eleven years old, and don’t remember which poem was first.

That’s a tough question given all the greats who have left us, and the amazing poets still working hard at their craft today. At this moment, I’m inclined to say Okla Elliott, who just passed away unexpectedly on March 19. Ten years my junior, he had me in awe of his brilliance. I’d just like to hug him one more time, thank him for his contributions to the literary world, his brain engaging Facebook posts, his wit, and for passionately caring about the betterment of humanity. And, I’d say a proper goodbye with glass raised to a poet friend gone too soon.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s