E. M. Darnell
E. M. Darnell is a floor tech and online tutor in Fremont, Nebraska. He received
his MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1990, where he studied under Gerald
Stern, Marvin Bell, Jorie Graham, and the late James Tate. He has published
poems in The Lyric, The Eclectic Muse, Verse (online edition),
Quantum Leap, Candelabrum, Aries, Open Minds Quarterly, Skid Row Penthouse,
Plainsongs and Ship Of Fools, and has poems forthcoming in
Form Quarterly and Shot Glass Journal. He has also been a
phlebotomist, hotel supervisor, editorial assistant, farmhand, landscaper,
busboy, critic of modern society, devout recluse, and incurable brooder/dreamer―causing
near auto collisions but still alive.
To Daughters Not Mine
(for Minny and Gracy)
I'll look for trolls around you
And check the ground beneath,
Cornering those that want you,
Removing all their teeth.
Try not to fear the dark―
It only leads to more.
The two of you may talk―
I'll slightly crack the door.
Rise and twirl to school
With sunless hands so small.
Laugh and don't be fooled
Away from feeling tall.
Fall in love with books
Before a prince and palace.
Yes, the rabbit talks―
Stay as close to Alice.
Play when you are old
And dance when you are sick.
It's good to flee the fold
When people get too thick.
The years will quickly move―
A rushing life regrets,
So tell the ones you love
Before the heart forgets.
Such A Piety
Joe is old, and God is getting close.
He made no plans for any pilgrimage
And can't decide which faith he loves the most.
They're all so different, he'll just be a host
To safe beliefs and saints that
Like God. Eternity is getting close,
So bless his soul he keeps a Christian house
Where heathens would be christened
in a cage―
He'd design a faith they love the most
Till God decides what destiny is just:
Such sacrifice to conquer sacrilege.
God's a cure, a lure, and getting close.
You could rip away Joe's Sunday clothes
And put him on a pedestal to judge―
He won't give in to men who hate him most
Or live this life with aches he never chose―
He lived a book but could not turn
And overdosed when God was getting close.
In death he'll learn the faith God loves the most.
Depression is a relative of death―
The slipping of the psyche to another
Strata, down to where your pump and breath
Are never welcome―not purgatory,
A kingdom of ennui not black but shaded.
The ones of highest health will tell you not
To worry―that you momentarily
With that error in your skull―that blot
Of badness on your blued brain―those
Messages that never seem complete,
So you aspire to be: No Assembly Required.
And a life is difficult that makes you delete
Those who say it's easy,
whom you damage,
Who fear your pain and never decipher its language.
A Hemisphere Away
I want what I don't have, and that is you.
I want you over here, not over there,
So I can see the eyes I'll never know
And comb my fingers through your silver hair.
You can place a peace that isn't there
Within my heart, and make it stay forever―
Enough to slow the thinning of my
And let my eyes' dark circles go no deeper.
I want a cord between, I want forever
A twine that can't be torn, I want the strongest
That holds a bond of two and
still goes deeper.
I want the one-half hour embrace you promised,
Then my thousand things that will
And hope that in your thousand you want me.
The Active Boy
Cracking eggs, his mother shouts he does
Nothing that's of any worth or
And that he thinks too much about applause
From things he'll never
do―"Oh just for once,
Go play a sport, stop scribbling down emotions―
stupid dream of music and the arts!"
He wants to show a little man's intrusions
Into a grown-up world, the scary
Like every Sunday seeing Daddy throw
His fist at her, those raw
Things he first saw Bugs or Elmer do,
But conks with ripping
bumps of more duration.
If only he'd go kick a ball around,
He wouldn't see her falling to the ground.
(Title by Mary Grace Patrick)
Are you in love if you can't see the one
Returning it, and you assume they are?
Love's of mind, I think, and needs no eye
Nor local ear―they just magnify
pieces that you sense about a soul
You learn from conversation in the wires
sciences we trust that let us run
These paragraphs deflected in the sky.
I know I love, and trust I recognize
A face that I can't see who wants to pull
Me nearer out of pain, transmitting
Chosen well to capture or console
My being―blind in body, always
With second thoughts if love is real or not.
He was one who thought that motherhood
Took little skill, a secondary world,
But it was first to her, and so it stood,
And she was first to him. Now he
Recalling things she did that made him bold―
Those bare and veining
hands took battled pans
Off war-torn stoves, uncuffed the pasted cold
little wrists that ached erecting snowmen.
He saw, a soldier home from kindergarten,
Her paisley sleeveless shirt on
The small-pox vaccination scar. He's certain
It was his
moon, and she was every star.
She was the only God in this child's eyes,
These memories still make him fall