Sieglinde Wood, born in The Bronx in 1960. Ms. Wood has been a copy-boy at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, a cocktail waitress, a high
school Science teacher, a Mom, an Importer, and a Traveler in 30-odd countries (finding none to be any more odd than her own). She enjoys
puzzling words, and has a B.A. in Anthropology/Languages from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Ms. Wood is inspired by the poetry of Billy Collins, Buddy Wakefield, Dorothy Parker, Theodor Seuss Geisel, W.S. Gilbert, and William
Shakespeare, and the prose of Ray Bradbury, Lawrence Durrell, Gerald Durrell and Stephen Jay Gould. She freely admits to being
She explains her unusual first name as follows: "It's pronounced zeeg-lín-dah. My mom found it in Die Walküre, Wagner’s opera
based on a Scandinavian epic myth. Sieglinde is a daughter of Wotan, King of the Gods. There is some disagreement as to whether 'Sieglinde'
means wreath-of-linden leaves or shield-made-of-linden wood. Either way, I am finally starting to like it, too. The name goes well with my
Once it grew, the Perfect Pear,
limbs free to fling leaves everywhere,
surrounding Sun, its lenient Lord,
a flowered crown that gently soared.
Now taut to frame, bonds resolute,
it bears its bounty―bitter fruit.
Originally published in The
[Fishing for Complements]
Inclined to see what flatters me,
as blind as I alone can be,
I’d floundered on until the tide
had turned and found a different side,
your lifted lid's illumined view;
how wise a pupil I through you!
There’s music in old houses, being other dumber choices;
gurgling antediluvian sewers are flush with plummy voices,
and the piping through the halls has left the walls un-plumb
but from an ancient iron boiler comes a lovely hum, sweet hum.
A creaky riser counterpoints the livingroom ceiling's crack
(as our truss-worthy wattle's got a slack smoke stack);
and a little fizzle sizzles when I fiddle with the light,
plus a knotty-pine staccato notes each tiptoe late at night.
I hear gamelan ring out, from the scaling radiators,
whose bells and whistles beat the heat of smoother operators. . .
A smarter Bauhaus house is still too young to learn a thing,
but an older house will use the time to teach itself to sing.
[Or: For the Mouths with Babes]
[Or: Canons to the Writing Me]
When I’m piecing a poem it’s between the pieced meals,
yet I’m focused and heedless of drumming of heels;
and you'll note, by my writ, I’m at no loss for words,
Writing's far more inviting than wiping up turds.
Rhyme unforced, unsolicited, free of Vocation,
the chatter of Corningware serves sole ovation.
My Work is a luxury, spent, I afford;
I don’t loaf, being bred to jam, never key-bored.
Remember Ms. Tolstoy’s renowned word-attack,
to sequester, sans trousers, for ‘Peace to come back?
Well our Laundress, c’est moi, ‘cause I’m still just a hack,
and I’m wearing the pants (pressed to clean cut my slack);
but my meter runs eagerly, no starchy chore,
shining waxing poetic above the dull roar;
there is no conflagration I fight to ignore,
and eyes shut, the riot just forces de Tour.
While it flies, time defies Constant Writer to block,
or cringe in a shoe-drop of Those Who Won’t Knock
(and why won't they sleep? Christ, it’s near five o’clock!);
yet the words return, sheepish, a care-raveled flock. . .
Yes I’d rather, like driven but carefree commuter,
leave Laundry and Dish in the dust of Computer,
but virus or script-interruptus corrupt us,
a verse can be weaned (some for better, abruptus).
Weary blue-stocking moms, don’t retire, despondent,
the volley might forge a great war correspondent;
though vixen with kits, you can out Fox’s hype
(and “embedded reportage” could use a good wipe!).
Our tan Explorer’s amber windows,
framed in packed vacation stuff,
expose daguerreotypes of those
we leave behind to reckon fall.
Deeply-lined from the long, hard cold,
our parting shot is left to Belle.
She lives in the old Route 2 Motel,
behind a brake of tired yews,
whose needles are too narrow to
defy the early, winter wind.
A raft of maple leaves sifts down,
a harvest the marginal glean.
We stop to help Belle barricade
her flat in bags of yellow gold.
She’s done four already, so half-
undertaken, the job goes quick.
Inside, turns out that country life
can come without a franklin stove,
or sleeping dogs to lie around it,
cozy in the hardwood incense.
Instead, against the wall, below
the plastic-covered casement sill,
a folding table holds a hot plate,
Wonder Bread, Dawn, Maxwell House...
I have to refuse the coffee. See,
we are the last of the summer
people, and better get our show
on the road to be home by dark.
In my mirror, Belle’s elfish form
waves us through a pass in the hedge.
I pull out slow, my signal ticking.
It’s a pretty hidden drive.
Appearances—Lesson in Scarlett
Settled in front of a white-washed church,
the adult tree lilac’s diplomacy still
holds a town common. The last of a stand,
in his leaves is a secret, her keep.
Enfolded and rapt in his long-cabled limbs,
she's cloaked in a flocked, wooly bloom.
Borne above, sanctuary of fragile repose,
she knows Yooou caa-an’t seee meee. . .
Sly Lilac, he shrugs, but the rustle reveals
a sleeve and the tip of a hood. So,
low, I come closer, a head-leveled hand
and eyes narrow, to peer at the school.
I wait below, ready to show my surprise;
at the end she’ll say Boo! and come down.
Nobody knows this place, only us kids. . .
and a parent should know when to smile,
but the shade-soured ground is telling and lies
burnished by centuries of sneakers.
The Vermont Poem
Upon moving here,
I have come to discover
that I do not write Vermont Poems.
You'll find no stoic, rusty tractors,
no drowsy dogs or old woodstoves,
no John's worn hands holding leavened loaves...
None of that.
My poems, snarky, spoiled and anxious,
are full of sooty betrayals and brooding subway despair,
determined to bridge steel-girded truths.
They might, on occasion,
contain the word
And they have brought us here, of all places.
like high heels on ice,
they were never intended for this climate.
It’s hard to tell poor Mattie’s mom that evil never wins,
but tied to a fence and left to die, he lives beyond her loss,
and out in Wyoming, on Mattie's rude crucifix, Sanctuary begins.
It’s hard to tell poor Mattie’s mom that evil never wins,
or how her lonely, murdered son atoned for others' sins. . .
Her lamb survives, a shepherd yet, above the double cross;
it’s hard to tell poor Mattie’s mom that evil never wins,
but tied to a fence and left to die, he lives beyond her loss.
[A Tale of Wet Feat]
As winter winds begin to low,
come songs of wrongs done long ago.
My story of One and Two, below.
One lonely night, avoiding chores,
inclined to muse (on other than floors),
and bored, I wandered out-of-doors.
With little on to insulate,
but thrilled to find precipitate,
I'd pined to spruce and decorate.
The snow was free, and worth the price.
A lofty stuff, I balled it twice.
(The pressure left a core of ice.)
A third ball turned the top to middle,
a slippery slope leaving balance a riddle.
(You ask if I slid? Well, maybe a little...)
See, Craft and I’d met unprepared;
the weather cast us both ensnared
(me cold, and not long underwear’d).
In sleeveless vest, and heart too true,
with eyes and hands, by now both blue,
I ploughed ahead. The blizzard blew.
My shivering arms designed a man’s;
he sprung to life as I warmed the hands!
(His hoary stump had similar plans...)
Coal eyes, cool words, December moon,
his Christmas kiss, a promise of June.
(Which one? I’d hoped the June was soon...)
So who was it really that easily led
me into thinking I’d ever be wed?
A triangle circled. I spun in my bed.
But when the sun came up again,
the way it tends to, now and then,
he’d gone the way of married men;
as mist resolves in gaze of Day,
along with what he’d had to say,
he’d melted, quietly, away.
Handmade, a Man that he was not,
a salty pool to mark the spot,
his epitaph, A Soggy Plot.
Whenever the Light resumes its wane,
and windows grow a winter mane,
he’s traced in rime, around the pane.
[“Our grief is incomparable”—Li Ping, who married late and lost his only child; N.Y.T., China Earthquake, 5/15/08]
it’s a beautiful fucking day right around lunch time and i’m driving along when out of
this weird feeling engulfs me and i’m like i don’t know just swallowed and drawn down down
down and deep inside this giant wave pulling heavy from inside me dense like a
magnet and where is it coming from where but i hear thin voices school children
trapped hurt bad some crushed way beyond hope and i know that their parents are
calling and calling for them and they’re clawing at the mud and bricks that bury
their children till their fingers are bloody but they cannot get to them cannot
help them cannot help them help them help them please help them
and i realize that this isn’t even really happening
but it’s louder now and my heart is slamming and tears are pouring down so hard shit i
can barely see to drive and i’m looking and looking and looking i’m craning from
side to side trying to see where this screaming is coming from this screaming
that i don’t really hear
but i hear you i’m coming hang on hang on i’m afraid to see what i know i’ll find but i
have to go and i have to see it so help me help me help me
and i’m driving and driving all around like a like a crazy person and there is no
emergency absolutely no emergency at all that i can find anywhere on the fucking
face of the fucking planet or at least not anywhere around here so i pull over
at the intersection and just breathe
only birds and wind
then the real world just sort of materializes around me and i’m back in this tidy north
country wall-calendar town lined with pink crabapple blossoms safe as organic
milk and realize that my own little honies are just fine well of course they are
duh they’re at school right now and i mean a really good safe out-in-the-country
school that doesn’t even have metal detectors or anything so what am i so
fucking upset about and what could i possibly have done about those poor
people’s kids anyway i’m just too far away to help i'm way too far away to help
then i read in the times about that incomparable grief and have to wonder did
any of you hear it at noon that day is there like some kind of black hole tunnel
that goes all the way straight down to china you know like a conduit or
something that could actually suck such magnificent horror clear through to the
A zeitgeist, in its final phase, goes out in a blaze,
a tidal gust, a seizing August, sucked along.
Gone miscued, madras-mused, awestruck,
I’m a crow quill ruckus, summa sumac amok
in mercuro-chromatics, semantic sap antics,
a spelling repealing, a lipping, a leaping,
rappelling the hills, in ripples, ripe apples,
maples appealing...fall leaves me feeling
a salmon amazement, its haze, cool-pruned.
Loons are all lent, Samhain’s razing moon spent;
as aspens whisper, his old gold wanes,
spun widdershins, in weather vanes.
Even the beeches’ cheap, papery coppers drop,
poplars’ amber, been numbered and dunned.
Under numbing pen-umbra, a wake undertaken
embraces the ruin November rakes in.
Remembering winnows a quickening ache,
awakening breezes, wist teases, in embers.
Slumber lurks...and a work evolves,
staving a loss as a vale resolves.
Slipping out of sleep’s grasp, a last gasp,
lapsing...singing, soaring, roars
into one more glorious tantrum;
a drumming dissenting, a ranting resisting,
insisting on Poetry, for no reason,
when it’s really too late in the season.
Originally published in The
Lyric as "Grande Finale"
War is way too big for me,
I battle him instead.
Go outside, comes my command
from over folded arms.
Metallic bursts report from his room
in splinters of his resistance.
Entrenched in his game, he’s proud of his score.
It’s hard to surrender so easily.
Someone tactful would move to commend him,
but in general, I’m just too heavy-handed,
and once again I cross the line,
sniping back with some flak of my own:
You know, every point counts
as somebody’s son. . .
For the most part the boy
tends to follow my orders.
A kernel of truth has been planted but,
for all my troubles, attempts to establish
lines of communication betray my position,
threatening to undermine the purpose of my mission.
He calls me Fun Spoiler. So I try again,
banking on a roundabout approach,
one under cover of a tack in his defense:
Christ, look at the time—it’s almost dark!
Get out of here, now! You’re wasting your life,
and running out of time to be a boy.
Amazingly, he lays down the controller
and charges on out to the yard,
leaving the screen door flung wide open,
strained to its greatest possible arc.
I’m right behind to stay the bang,
and follow him out to stand by.
Having rifled the plow shed, he’s armed with a brace
of some oddly familiar tools. . .
My tools they turn out to be, ancient and rusty,
but serviceable to the core.
A slag of grey siding scrap yields materials.
Wire, old moldings and spindles inspire.
Only an overgrown border of mountain
laurel’s around to surround us out here,
brittle boughs in a circle, our sanctuary,
setting the stage for his plans.
From over his shoulder ring blows of his industry;
sawing. . . a hammer. . . a birdhouse reveals!
Another arrives in advance of the rest
of a row he’ll continue tomorrow.
Evening settles down around us,
roosting in his steepled ‘houses.
Decorated peaks of his idle hands’ work
are thinly-covered in conspiracies of shadows,
but enough light’s left for the two of us to see
a little piece of God in his details.
And the stand of mountain laurel’s crowns,
arresting tipped in temporary gilt,
nod a grave assent from overhead.
All’s remarkably quiet in front of us.
Only a distant drone from the west
invades our private, hidden spot.
The spitting whine of tiny, unattended guns
escapes on a draft from a half-raised window
in the dark ranch, barely within range.
Giddy pinwheels, left tenant behind,
still chitter at each other, thrilled to death. . .
So puny from where I stand out here
in building home-made pride,
one more somebody’s mother
who’s won another kind of coup de grâce, tall
in the last long, striping rays of a parting sun.
have to tell you,
much more comfortable with rhymes.
Reluctantly, and ashamed,
not let this relative kiss me
front of people.
to understand that
serious contemporary poets
ought to write free verse,
those /f/r/a/n/k/e/n/-/p/o/e/m/ things.
believe they’re called language poems,
opposed to the other kind.
What’s with all the silent characters?
mean, is it sound Poetry
put down the unpronounceable,
abandoning the meter route
rendering a reader...moot?
appears that a love of Light
all but been eclipsed.
these are reasonable fears;
hundred years, do you think The Norton’
would spare the room for Seuss and Horton?
Rhyme’s just too accessible,
more suitable for children in pyjamas,
the rest of the Great Unwashed.
say that it’s déclassé,
you don’t even need to work
get something out of it.
could dance to it, without even knowing why,
where’s the Art in that?
Well, okay then.
I shall suspend the pulse of metered incantation,
transfusing its burden into someone else, whose lips are still
far off-stage, the theremin intones...
an ASL interpreter
hereby invoked to sign this piece
those who refuse to listen.
response to my inquiry,
Deaf Actors’ Guild has forwarded my voice.
is a she.
she doesn’t look the way I expected,
shoulders are squared, her chin is high.
both just sort of
stand there in the doorway for a second,
reflecting on some of the dumbest prejudices, ever.
Then, remembering my manners,
step aside for her to come in.
a firm handshake tells me that we’re OK,
accommodation finding us both on the same page, so to speak.
Communication actually turns out to be pretty easy
a combination of familiar expressions, gestures,
of course, pen and paper.
talk about puns;
about how certain hand-signs may be used
the irony, or twist, in such a play
within the parts of the characters themselves.
show her my hand-sign quip about penis
crack up, then clear our throats.
of us wash our hands before we begin. Her idea.
There is no disguising the fact that my Auditorium
just an empty turn-of-the-century, grammar school gymnasium,
its vaulted ceiling retrofitted with a pair of lo-fidelity speakers...
I have been trusted with a camcorder,
have scraped together a dozen friends in folding chairs,
putting them into the proof.
Unfamiliar with the out-dated light board,
embarrassed and impatient,
joking around too much.
Finally, the room darkens,
I can focus the spotlight.
long oval shadows cast by her petite,
seated form stretch and shrink, back and forth,
against the gym floor’s taped delineations.
get it just right,
catch her eye,
give her the nod.
rises to her feet, laying the script on the stool,
hands free to recite.
notice, one at a time, that she’s started.
hands flutter where my words stutter,
and from the wings, I begin translating,
voiceover in plain English.
louder than I’d like to be,
out there in the dark,
they’re taking note of every sleight,