Two Poems by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

Light

My sweet-sixteen dress was yellow as the daffodils
In the seamstress’s cramped but spotless living room,
Yellow as the sweet lemon bars she made each Christmas
For the neighborhood children.
Mrs. Mueller lived at the end of our block
In a little stone cottage near a field of flowers,
Like a grandmother in a fairy tale.
She was old and poor and crippled
But always tidy, always smiling,
Even as the marshals took her away
After it came to light that, once upon a time,
She was a guard at Auschwitz.

“Light” first appeared in Free Inquiry


Irene and Beth

Irene has shining golden hair,
And fame and glory without end,
And greater wealth than even she
Could ever find a way to spend.
 
But Beth cannot afford to buy
What goes beyond her basic needs.
She must make do with what she has
And squeeze each penny till it bleeds.
 
Which woman hates her empty days?
Whose sadness makes her hard and mean?
Who yearns and yearns to change her life?
I’m sorry, but . . . it’s not Irene.

“Irene and Beth” first appeared in The Providence Journal




Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University and has had over 220 poems published in a wide range of places, including eight in past issues of Sparks of Calliope.

Two Poems by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

A Cat Declawed

What happens to a cat declawed?

Does it curl up
Like a circle in the sun?
Or flex its little paws–
And then run?
Does it twist and turn and hide?
Or settle on the sofa–
With its head by your side?

Maybe it just purrs,
Heedless of its plight.
Or does it bite?


Do your friends want to reform you?
Do they try to mend your ways?
Do they prod you to get moving:
Jog, recycle, fill your days,
Start your own organic garden,
Eat more carrots, eat less fat?
Well, there’s always my solution –
Blow them off, and get a cat.




Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University and has had about 200 poems published in a wide range of places, including multiple appearances in Sparks of Calliope.

Two Poems by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

Mina Says No to Hospice

I entered the world with a blast,
Triumphant and ever so loud.
The room was engulfed by my cries.
My mother was weary but proud.
 
And now, although 90 and failing,
I still want to live as I am.
They said I came in like a lion —
I’ll never go out like a lamb.


She’s welcomed and flattered and favored and kissed.
She’s promptly invited; she’s first on the list.
She glides through the envy that always awaits her.
Because she’s so popular, everyone hates her.




Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University and has had about 200 poems published in a wide range of places, including two in Sparks of Calliope last May and two last June.

Two Poems by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

The Waist Is Larger than the Belt

The waist is larger than the belt–
For put them side by side–
The one the other will exceed
With ease–it cannot hide–

The foot is wider than the shoe–
For try them inch by inch–
The one the other won’t fit in–
Without a mighty pinch–

The mouth is greater than the will–
For test them both with cake–
The one the other will subdue–
As anodyne quells ache–


A Narrow Fellow in the Glass 

A narrow fellow in the glass
Is what I yearn to see–
But much I must forgo, alas
To make a slimmer me. 

No cookies, brownies, cake, or pie–
I may become unstrung.
The pleasure healthful foods supply
Is zero at the tongue.


Both poems originally appeared in The Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin




Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University and has had about 200 poems published in a wide range of places.

Two Poems by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

You Are Old, Father William

(originally appeared in The Los Angeles Times)

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And the money’s become very tight;
And yet you’ll spend anything not to be dead–
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I figured that old folks should die;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure that I’m one,
I do not see a good reason why.”

“You are old,” said the son, “as I mentioned before.
So consider your grandson’s position,
Since the money that keeps you away from death’s door
Could be used for his college tuition.”

“I am old,” Father William replied in a yell,
“But I’ve not taken leave of my wits!
I should croak so young Willie can go to Cornell?
Be off, or I’ll blow you to bits!”


Envying My Cat

(originally appeared in The Providence Journal)

When Lili seeks affection,
She only has to purr.
She never meets rejection.
Why can’t I be like her?




Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University and has had about 200 poems published in a wide range of places.