Local poet’s work highlighted

This week The Rock River Times presents two poems from Carolyn Kent Bailey, a local writer. She has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southern California and has studied creative writing at the University of Chicago, Rockford College, and Rock Valley College. She has recently published a memoir, Out With It! The Diary of My Hysterectomy. Her poems have appeared in Earth’s Daughters, Kalliope, Karamu, Korone, The Mid-America Poetry Review, and The Rockford Review, among others.

Memo Never Sent to My Boss

I think our computer’s name is Hal.

He is getting the best of us.

He has been programmed

to do our accounting, but

for some reason, stupidity or cupidity,

he is giving us two sets of figures.

One set of figures for one report

and another set of figures for another report.

He thought we wouldn’t notice.

But as you well know, we did.

As you also know, we spent all day

trying to get him to report the same figures

both times.

With all due respect, Sir,

I’d like to suggest that we give it up.

How about going back to the ledger,

the pencil and that marvelous item,

the eraser.

Think about it, Sir.

Imagine you had trained your dog

to fetch the paper, and one day

he stops fetching it, would you

spend all day re-training him?

At some point, wouldn’t you

just get up and get the damn paper

for yourself?

With all due respect, Sir,

I don’t think I can stand another day

of Obedience School with Hal.

— Carolyn Kent Bailey

Love Story

Imagine a young man and woman

on a summer evening

a blanket spread

beneath the branches of a walnut tree

the whisper of leaves with each touch of breeze,

a picnic supper

hot dogs on paper plates

sparkling burgundy in stemmed glasses.

Candles tip slightly in tall holders.

Shadows waver over the blanket

a scent of mustard pervades the air.

They sit at the blanket’s edge.

See how their knees touch

as they slather hot dogs

with mustard and ketchup

and sip wine made crimson

in the candle light.

A radio leans on the tree trunk.

Listen for the music

the smokey voice of June Christy

the rippling notes of Midnight Sun.

See how they smile

and watch one another

how really they are dancing

though they sit holding hot dogs

and burgundy.

Now visualize a later time another place.

It would be a room paneled in red cherry

with book shelves a fireplace

glowing embers,

The mantel is lined with pictures

brides babies pets a sunset.

The two of them are there

each in an arm chair

a plate of turkey sandwiches

and fruit salad on a table at their side.

See him turn and ask Shall we

watch the news?

See how she catches his eye

when she answers Why don’t we listen

to Coltrane tonight.

You would know that she is remembering

a moment ago in the kitchen

when she peeled an orange

and he came to her

curved his finger over her collar

and kissed her neck.

— Carolyn Kent Bailey

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