Butter On My Turtleneck 1998

      Butter On My Turtleneck

Butter on my turtleneck,

Crumbs in the bed –

Evidence of self-indulgence,

Laziness. Instead

Of taking

Breakfast with

The cutlery,



I fluff the pillows,

Set them high –

Sootis nestled on my thigh;


Steeping, soaking, drowning

In a pencil, pen, a soft eraser, book and paper –


Private caper?

Social leper


My paragon of industry away all day

At toil for me,

My nature-blended sin-nocence

Luxuriating guiltlessly.

©Butter On My Turtleneck 98.11.26

The Processes: Creative, Thinking, Meditative; Circling Round Woman;

Arlene Corwin


But Now You’re Seventy 1998


      But Now You’re Seventy

But now you’re seventy,

And fifty-six seems young.

At eighty, seven decades will seem juvenile,

And you, the wee marsupial,

A worm in mommy’s pung.

For such are our perceptions:

Relative and without substance.

Now you’re seventy.

Repeat it!

See the troll for what is:

Foolish, impish chimera

Whose scornful aim it is

To move the goalpost back and forth,

East to west, south to north –

Making you a little you:

What rot! What poppycock!

A crock of shit!

With each new decade you are it!

More refined.

It’s all a trade-off:

Seeing time and what it’s made of:

Pain’s long trip from breath to breath

Where something ‘fab’ awaits.



But Now You’re Seventy 98.2.16Circling Round Woman; I Is Always You Is We; Birth, Death & In Between;

Time; Special People, Special Occasions; Circling Round Vanities; Circling Round Wrinkles;

Arlene Corwin

Body Talk 1998

      Body Talk

Have you learned to recognize fear

In the stomach?

Washing a dish: quiet act, it would seem;

And there it is:


Right in the stream

Of intestinal movement;

Maybe the need to evacuate, go –

So you do.

It’s still near,

Stomach’s mobility coming from nowhere.


And no obvious pattern to bring it:

Worry or hurry,

Or eminent figure expected to lunch.

Call it a hunch

But it’s fear from somewhere –


Like a problem you see but can’t solve,

A bunch of invisible knots that evolved

From the blots left by childhood;

Memory-hints that blighted the schooldays:

Tests and comparisons,

Raising of hands and the ever-permissions

Spotting expression and lightness and will

Dampened to stillness.

Back to the now,

The fear in bowel-

Body talk.



Body Talk 98.1.4

A Singer Investigates Housekeeping 1998


      A Singer Investigates Housekeeping

Deep down I am a sloth, a slug, a slob,

A kind of snob

And other slaves to ‘slow’.

This isn’t funny.

Decades go into the ether,

All one’s teeth are

Rotting, splaying,

Fast decaying

While delaying tactics lose the day.

I do observe that lately,

‘Slow” is slowing down and up.

Today I washed a tricky cup,

An uncooperative pan,

A savage knife, a twisted fork,

A truant spoon, a useful can –

Observing like a scientist,

The most efficient way to twist the wrist

To solve the problem cork

That will not leave the flask:

Muscles I can use to find

The pressure of the scouring pad –

Techniques in scrubbing

‘Spaces of a different kind’ –

My in-laws have a ‘simply’ task:

They simply love to clean. So glad,

That after work they clean the house –

On weekends – clean the house. I swear,

I’m starting to glimpse comfort there;

Become engrossed

In wiping up those crumbs of toast

Which lead the dedicated soul

To pledge a troth to plate and bowl

And order. It’s a discipline

I could absorb

While warbling at the sink.



A Singer Investigates Housekeeping 98.10.13Circling Round Woman; Vaguely About Music;

Arlene Corwin






Keep In Mind 1997


     Keep In Mind

Keep in mind, when I say Him

I mean an energy that’s neuter:

Neutral, neutron/proton,



The valuta of all time.

His, Its

Also, Theirs,

And also when I sin

Or spin around in life a bit

Up to my female chin in shit,


When skin is thin

And I’m all in

And Gershwin’s on my old machine

I check my Brooklyn roots and grin

And call it You.


It doesn’t matter what I do,

The energy itself is true.

How bad –no matter what the field,

The energy still yields a yield

Which in itself serves as a shield.


I am its unskilled child

Whose job it is to wield the pen,

Hob-nob with that and this

Without remiss

To witness all,

A guileless girl.



Keep In Mind 97.6.23Circling Round Woman; To The Child Mystic; I Is Always You Is We; Nature In & Of Reality;

Arlene Corwin



Advice To Wives Who Wait At Home 1997

     Advice To Wives Who Wait At Home
When you’re worried

And existence circles ‘round the worry,

It’s the worrier that’s weak –

It’s the weakness in your streak.

When you’re sitting home

Expecting him to come for lunch,

He doesn’t come

And you become a bunch of nerves,

You start to munch, which only serves

The weakness that has turned to anger,

Hunger, which is unresolved.

You play, determined not to delve

Into delay.

“He is a grownup man”, you say.

‘If he’s not home, it’s no one’s fault’,

Remembering your folk’s assault

When you came home at half past two

And nothing you could say was true.

“When he comes home I’ll be

The perfect model of decorum.”

Then you sit and eat the cheesecake

That you’d make especially for’m.

You have reached neglect and widowhood,

You’re out of food,

The house is sold and you are old,

Your friends and children far away.

Your worry? Where you’ll stay that day.

You plan ahead,

For after all, your husband’s dead –

Or run away with a colleague;

You’ve conjured up intrigue,

Convinced that what you’ve bred,

Your secret dread,

Has come to pass.

Good God, the old familiar chassis

Driving up the road. He’s home!

Go kiss him. Not a word.

No histrionics now he’s come.

Go in lovebirds,

Not a word that he was late,

Not a word about the waiting

And the idiotic state.


When you’re worried

And existence circles ‘round the worry

It’s the worrier that’s weak.

It’s the weakness in your streak

That you look at, sever, bury.


©Advice To Wives Who Wait At Home 97.11.11

Circling Round Woman: Love Relationships;

Arlene Corwin



A Little Bit Of Something Wrong 1997

     A Little Bit Of Something Wrong

There’s nothing like

A little bit of something wrong

To make you humble;

TV, movie, boxing star.

It doesn’t matter who you are –

A little varicosity

Will cause the best-honed vanity

To crumble,

And it doesn’t matter how you grumble,

Cut or pray –

Something’s come in beauty’s way.

You know that ‘neath the outer gear,

Something’s spoiled you can’t steer:

Badge and kernel;

Moving charms are not eternal,

Proving charms are not eternal

And a thing on which to base

The way in which you face

The mirror.

©A Little Bit Of Something Wrong 97.10.22

Circling Round Woman; I Is Always You Is We; Circling Round Vanities;

Arlene Corwin

Anything Done Any Which Way 1995 1997

     Anything Done Any Which Way

It’s all got potential.

You’re sitting on the bathroom floor

Watching water pour

And fill…

And while you wait, your restless bits,

The active parts still spry and vain,

Look ‘round for ways to slow the gain,

Hold on to shape that needn’t feign –

So you do sit-ups.

Room so cramped you squeeze in torso,

Then the compressed legs, and more so,

Hold the sink and use the biceps, triceps:

All gets worked.

The pails filled, the buckets jerked

Into the air and carried, ferried

To their watering place outside,

Prepared to feed the peas,

The lettuce, broccoli; buried

Thirsty, roots that hide.

At piano voice is rusty.

There’s no hurry, only trust

In sitting there,

Letting something come from nowhere.

Fingers fall, the patterns fresh.

From that nothing patterns mesh.

The voice still rusty, but the art –

Ah, the art, it’s fresh and smart!

In the kitchen flour is low.

But there’s meusli, nuts and figs,

Cooked polenta, even sprigs

Of lemon mint to make a dough

Which sits and rises as I write.

Sweet and wholesome bread tonight?

I quite expect so, in this Zen

Of daily doings which-way-when.

©Anything Done In Any Which Way 7.20.1997 (see All At The Same Time10.31.1995)

Circling Round Woman; A Sense Of The Ridiculous;

The Processes; Creative, Thinking, Meditative;

Arlene Corwin


How Do You Come To Grips With Age? 1991

              How Do You Come To Grips With Age?

How to come to grips with age,

Become a sage,

Calm down the rage that lurks within

And screams “stay thin!”

How to examine the truth there

In the strand of graying hair,

Take from the shelf

Those tints that quarrel with the self.

(To dye or not to dye? I buy

The stuff that washes out,

Which shows my wishy-washy doubt:

Evidence of larger fear.)

One clings to ‘then’,

Pushing at troops that nip the rear,

The fear that centers round the face,

This fear of passing-age time’s pace,

This fear that makes me feel a twit,

That makes me hide in wit,

Is representative of it.

And I’m ashamed,

Behaving like a creature maimed.

How do you come to grips with age,

Come out of age’s cage a sage?

Birthdays come and folks will singInsisting.

Yet, within our range,

A change is, after all, just change –

Not more, not less, not good, not bad:

A summary of all one’s had.

Ring out the bells, the dong and ding.

For my advice is not to cling,

But let the chips fall

Where the grips of age begin.

©How Do You Come To Grips With Age? 91.10.21

Circling Round Woman; I Is Always You Is We; Birth, Death & In Between; Circling Round Wrinkles;

Arlene Corwin




Two Women On A Beach 2007

        Two Women On A Beach

I watch them both

Standing on the ocean’s edge

Quiet in experience.

She in blue looks down and out, engaged or disengaged,

The shallow, cold, non-ending waves

A motion universe dislodged.

Looking down as if the wet was crystal ball

That could reveal all there ever was and is.

The friend in red looks on

As if she looks for truths to lean on –

She who looks and she who asks:

Quiet friends in balance.*

©Two Women On A Beach 07.3.2

Circling Round Woman;

Arlene Corwin

* from a painting of the same name by Anna Sandham



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