width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses



Phibby Venable

This Land

for George Wallace

Because I believe you are an earth angel
and have the power to do so
please tell Woody Guthrie
that he was president in his own way
no one has distinquished the cigarettes
he lit across country
where families still sleep under newspaper
There is a great blaze kept hot
with calloused hands
and women that mother and shoulder
There is a blue song in an angry throat
and a long moan that is beyond love
in the flatlands
The mountains stand ready as rock
Paintbrushes still cover the rails he rode
roads still long to go somewhere
I see them each day 
disappear into the distance
where random acts of kindness
sprawl softly under fruit trees
and there are guitars and small fires
all over this land.

 2007 Phibby Venable

The Beating

At first there is a monk in my morning window
and the wind is blowing hard
I quickly think of spiritual things
and regret any wrongdoing or unkind
deeds like interrupting when the old ones
are trying to speak, dropping gum wrappers
from the car window, wadded too small to see
But there are no religious figures
only the woodpile's tarp torn 
away by the rough wind
a long man shape drape of canvas in the pine
The tree waves long arms of darkness
and I remember I am supposed to sleep
with codeine for the pain
and change the bandage on my face
if there is a sign of seepage
but what of this moment
I am not sleeping now and somewhere
your fist is still a fist against bars
but I can see the slow motion of love
rise in some old recollection
of your childhood and descend
into the face of me and my astonishment
where dreams shattered quick
and you swung a hard belt buckle
and no...I did not ask for it.

 2007 Phibby Venable

I Fell Down the Basement Steps

Get up here, you shout, but I have fallen
down the basement steps
and you do not look for me
in the discarded soiled rug, the chipped
blue willow, and broken parts
You do not accept your paid vacation,
go awol, or ask for extended leave
I am not in the Ben Hogan clubs
I am not in the  monthly report
I have broken something in this fall
but still, no phoenix rising 
slips from the furnace
My children find me and agree
to check back later
My siblings believe I am preparing
some vast yard sale
There is my mother, she can not come down
Her knees are bad, she sits guard
from the open door
There are two men that were once
husbands, swinging their rage sticks
of bad love and vengence
but they do not see me
There is a poet, hung in pictures
There is a songwriter, with an unstrung violin
There in the mirror gift from my aunt
I see I am sitting on cold cement
I see you are not looking in the log cabin
I built in a dream
You are not searching the open streams,
the mountain of stepping stones
I am not at the beach in your horizon
I am not at the Biltmore Estates
You cannot remember where you left
your keys, but they are not with me
You cannot call, I never have
a working phone
I have simply fallen down the basement steps
and you are only saying, Come up.

 2007 Phibby Venable

About the Poet:

Phibby Venable's work has appeared in 2River, Poetrybay, Southern Ocean Review, Appalachian Journal, and various e-zines & journals. She has authored three chapbooks, Indian Wind Song, On White Top, & What I Saw Beautiful. She holds a Degree in Social Work and works with the community, the elderly, and animal rescue.