The strain of pushing up against saints,
how can enough suffering
be laid against the door,
batter it down?
or how many on this side of the rope,
palms shredded with hemp fiber,
and still I slide, heels slip
through mud stirred with sweat.
Few barter misery against reward
anymore. Sometimes I dab myself
with disguises like the fish
all aflutter with sea debris
not to be noticed until the capture,
the taking of supper.
I want something of heaven.
All those past battles were
from glory-raimented youth.
Now I re-arrange words and letters.
My scrabble tray is full of "q's"
and no "u" ever shows up.
Should I demand to start over?
No, just hand over my reading glasses
and that page of small-print rules.
CAROL HAMILTON was Poet Laureate of Oklahoma from 1995 to 1997 and received the Oklahoma Book Award for a chapbook of poetry, Once the Dust. She received a Southwest Book Award for a children's novel, The Dawn Seekers. New books include: Breaking Bread, Breaking Silence (Winner of the Chiron Chapbook Award), Gold: Greatest Hits (Pudding House), I, People of the Llano (Good Samaritan Press), and a children's novel, I'm Not From Neptune (not yet released).