When she argues in absolutes,

there’s no defense.

You never ...  I always ...

(she declaims in perfect pitch)

  ... vacuum rugs upstairs.

       ... lock the sliding door.

... sing a song on key.


I confess I’m tonally inept

and prone to chronic laziness.

I’d rather watch the sun unfurl

behind our evergreens

than lug the Kirby up the stairs,

unwind its twisted chord, and miss

the smatterings of crumbs and lint

she always finds.


As for the sliding door,

chalk it up to trust in Providence

and patio debris I’ve scattered

as a trap. Any thief who’d plow

through rakes, hoes, and piles

of leaves deserves a chance.


Since there’s no gain in wasting breath

nor expiration date on being wrong,

I’ve mastered shutting up and dreaming

of the rainy night she cannot find her

keys and kettledrums each bolted door,

while high above the vacuum’s hum,

I’m belting out her favorite songs

from the second floor.


(Previously published in Persimmon Tree, 2014.)


From English teacher to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and perfect summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK including “Stirring,” “CALYX,” “Persimmon Tree,” “How Higher Education Feels,” and “Antiphon.” Her third collection, Thin Places, is slated for release by Aldrich Press in Fall 2017.  Since the only poem she wrote in high school was red-penciled “extremely maudlin,” Carolyn is still amazed she has continued to write.