Monday, November 28, 2011

June Cleaver Cleaves Herself

JuneMargaretDonnaHarriet Cleaver frets over starched white collars.
She wipes the dish clean, clean, clean, clean, clean.
So clean the pattern is impressed upon her palm.
Blood and Palmolive. Intermixed. Interspersed. Intermingled.
Her husband is a busy man wiling away hours in his study, den, office.
Her daughters, Princess and Kitten, and sons, Wally, Bud and...
The Beaver. What was his name again? She slaps her forehead. Oh, yes, Theodore.
A sweet gift. A swell kid. An afterthought

JuneHarrietMargaretDonna stirs the batter for cookies.
She thinks about a woman whose story
got buried in the back of the newspaper.
A mad, sad, isolated housewife
cleans the house from top to bottom, top to bottom, top to bottom, top to bottom.
She can see her funhouse reflection in every piece of silver.
She retires to the recesses of the attic and...

JuneDonnaHarrietMargaret smiles smugly.
Her life, she reasons, needs a theme song. Something hummable.
Ward, her husband, or is it Jim, her mind wanders, knows best.
With pipe in hand, he sets her straight.
She doesn't remember much about the moment.
She is dutiful. He is perfunctory.
She is pleasant and docile and always makes his favorite meal.
Even when company shows up unannounced.
"I am sorry, honey. I forgot to tell you."
She smiles tightly. "The rib roast is in the oven."

JuneDonnaMargaretHarriet goes to the kitchen where she vigorously mashes potatoes.
She will make WardJimOzzieAlex look good.
She will smile even if her mouth cracks.
She picks up the cleaver. She picks up the carving knife.
She stabs and jabs blindly at
The wooden cutting board.
She vanishes all murderous thoughts from her pretty little head
and cheerfully, resolutely serves dinner.
She looks outside her dark kitchen window.
She wonders about what life is like on the outside.
What would it be like to have one, a life that is.


  1. Hi Debbie!

    I loved this poem - it manages to create so many images for me. It builds up at the end, gets intense but pulls back, intense and pulls back again. Lots of feelings.

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Looking forward to reading more of your poetry,

  2. I look forward to reading more of my poetry, too, not to be too glib about it. Over the years I've written some good ones. I prefer quality over quantity. I can rhyme badly, too, just like the next person, but I prefer to play with language and feeling and impact instead. I had fun with the black humor at the end.

    Thank you.

  3. Thought provoking, I believe. I've been very ambivolent about Mad Men because I cannot quire decide if it illuminates the paternalistic culture of the 1960's or glorifies it. I'm guessing more of the latter.

  4. I cannot speak to that since I've never seen it.

  5. I love this! The dark ending makes it even better. Can't wait to read more.

  6. Thank you. I hope that I am inspired. it's rare for me to write a poem, let alone two in quick succession.