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Rochelle Hope Mehr

Rochelle Hope Mehr


I feel like I have to fight all the time.
Scratch and claw just to fend off interlopers.
To grub the knotty
Fiber of my roots.
What is there?
No growth.
Just undergrowth.
I yaw.
I clang.
I collide with yin.
I slide hard into yang.
I am neither here nor there.
I transfigure dust into air.


Rochelle Hope Mehr

The Outsider

They saw her sad and wept for her --
But she was bored and turned away.

They thought she envied them their lives.
She sucked the marrow from housewives

And splintered bone from career chicks.
She oiled her joints with the unction

Of the suavely courteous men.
The little children she boiled whole.

But all they saw was her aureole.


Rochelle Hope Mehr

My Father and Cancer

The man is shriveling away into nothing.
He doesn't want to speak to his niece on the phone.
What do you say when you're wasting away
Into nothing.
His pants keep falling off his sunken waist.
I have to help him fix the belt
Tighter, another hole closer, tighter
To engird, to secure the security
Of walking unencumbered
By fallen clothing at your feet
Tripping you up
When it's already so hard to move just a few feet
On matchstick limbs which used to be legs,
Sturdy legs which used to support a sturdy frame
Engirded by a belt bulging a little flesh  -- oh how
You used to love to eat!


Rochelle Hope Mehr

After the Epidural

The Recovery Room nurse said
she could tell you were a great
man by the way you looked at

The light emitted from the eye
may be deceptive
not befitting
a luminary

She also said
she knew you would
not have passed her
in Organic Chem

You smiled at that
and I remembered blue books,
blue books tossed asunder
blue ink in blue examination books
running cold in my veins
as I observed how meticulously you corrected
how demonically you slammed shut
the blue covers
and proclaimed that this one would not pass
your scrutiny and make it to med school
that your course determined the
course of so many lives

And I shuddered
at all the power
emanating from the blue eye
scrutinizing the blue ink
between the covers
of the blue book

The blue eye
atop the scowling face
The red pencil
scrawling corrections
The gleeful energy
emitted from the eye

Scared me

And I cried

Rochelle Hope Mehr


Silly little words.
Do you dissect like a scalpel?
Disinfect like lysol?
Whose life have you saved?

When the lame reach for a prop
Are you a walker?
Are you a cane?
Are you a sop?

Can you wipe up the sick man's mess?
Can you zap him
To quell his cancer distress?
Of what use are you?
Silly little words.

Rochelle Hope Mehr

Bon Voyage

He yells now
because the cancer has spread to his brain
he yells at me for trying to spoon-feed him tuna fish
says the pills make him ill
he knows I mean well
he'll get up tomorrow
he's having bad dreams
he has to sleep
put out the light

And I think we are all in some way
touched in the brain
none of us really well
all of us hovering on a plain
shitting in our underwear
fuming in not-so-quiet despair
not so gentle
nor so brave
as we fumble our way
past the Everyday


Rochelle Hope Mehr


I finally figured out what the black
blank spaces in the crossword puzzle

They are the rests in the relentless music.

The spaces between the crushing lines.

The indeterminates which give me pause
to think.

The sweet rose scent wafting
over the sewer stench
of the endless grids
Tethering me to
the grinding and binding
of the livelong day.

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