Three poems by Pamela Garvey

Pamela Garvey

Pamela Garvey

Pamela Garvey's chapbook Fear (Finishing Line Press, 2008) was a finalist for the New Women's Voices Competition. Her poems and stories have been published in such journals as Margie, Esquire, Cimarron Review, RATTLE, The North American Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. Garvey has received many awards and honors including pushcart nominations and semi-finalist for the “Discovery”/The Nation prize. Associate Professor of English at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, Garvey lives in the city of St. Louis with her husband and son and is the co-founder of Words on Purpose, a committee of socially concerned writers who organize a benefit reading series.

Cain's Confession

Am snakewise
Mouth at blast,
the ricochet bullet.
Am the warped pine.
Am the splintering husk,
am the fist Son,
the shabby gesture
of my father's loins. Am debt.
Am marrow, the blood
stewing within,
heir to fracture
in the gospels of crush.
Am the pearled lag.
Am the hours-too-late wayfarer
bulging with backpack and muscle.
Am nomad, no breaks, brink
and beaded with grime.
Am guilty. Am
the thief of the frail,
am bottom flayed by God,
am unrepentant, uncouth,
the unslumping smith.
Horses saddled and shoed in the stables
of generations now motes.
Am the necklace to their famine,
fumble to their pass. Am the crumpled hat
they'd love to shove in an old trunk.
Am tired. Am undazzle.
Am the choked colloquy,
the doom of shrugs,
the who-cares, the why-not,
the let-me-go
of the petering epic.




The Dark, A Child Listening

to that absence

night after night, eyes prowling
the sky outside for the death regatta
rowing in the distance. I heard

their splashing, the churning depths.

My mind hurried to ready itself
for those immigrant throngs.
How long? How soon?
I couldn't stand then and can't stand now
the way day bruises so dark

that stars barnacle the dead's fleet,
how the owl-clock cocks its plastic eyes,

points lopsided wings at glowing numbers.




Pain Tolerance

If a cleaver nicks a finger chopping onions, if a splinter
of glass lodges in the heel, she sees the crooked stream
of blood trickle over the knuckle or toward the grout
in the floor, but feels nothing. Inside it's the same.
When the oncologist asks why she didn't come sooner,
she shrugs. The brain inside a body that's been
punched and held down turns the volume so low
nerve endings only whisper.  Even years after, when touch
is only a hand rubbing a back, the brain responds
by repeating its mantra: hush, hush, hush.