Brenda Stevens Baer

Standing on Westminster Bridge with Wordsworth

is slipping into a virginal stretch
of empire’s morning sights
scrubbed to gleaming
by England’s romantic son.

I know his naïve heart,
his antiquated calm,
his provincial urban-awe,
his pure soul.
These are vintage charms
I polish with a soft cloth.
I do not tell him this.

Instead, I tip his hat
into the willful Thames
to make him
chase me, laughing,
across the bridge,
dodging the daybreak ones,
the dawnlovers.

I let him catch me
because I want to
hold his hand, touch his cheek,
sing Beatles songs to him
in the train
all the way
home to Grasmere
before the sun turns
the landscape gold-orange
and the cows plod home.

When we get there,
we will take tea
from painted china cups
and read poems
from crinkly papers
all the evening
until he sleeps at ease
long before
the unbearable nightly news.


The Queen of Hearts’ Lament

The Queen of Hearts rests on her bed
drinking vodka from
a crimson mug.
Exhausted by all the
screaming and stomping,
roaring and thundering
she’s expected to do
(It’s hard on the throat),
she wants a new role
with some emotional range
and what’s more
she craves a little credit
for begetting
the ten royal children who
hide from her in ten
narrow royal closets.
She has plenty more to complain about:
The fucking queen costume itches
and she loathes the color.
The matching pumps
are clunky and comical
poking out from her hem.
Furthermore, the king is spineless
and the knave is an idiot and
neither will come to her bed
even when she threatens
dawn beheadings. . .
or worse.
What’s more?
She thinks croquet is a moronic game,
abhors touching flamingoes,
despises roses,
assumes her soldiers ignore her
when she’s not looking,
and wonders who decided
to give her all this
wooden nickel power anyway.
She doesn’t remember
signing up for this life,
and she suspects
there is NO EXIT.
“Wonderland, my ass,”
she whispers as she
pours another drink.
The palace is quiet,
holding its breath.

© Brenda Stevens Baer

Brenda Stevens Baer is a retired writing teacher with an abiding love of poetry, where she finds, like Marianne Moore, a place for the genuine and a place to stand in awe of the mysteries that surround us.  Several of her poems have been published in literary magazines.

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