Poetry Drawer: The Trouble with Pronouns: Basket Weave by Robert Demaree

The Trouble with Pronouns

Two reasons to avoid pronouns:
First, inclusiveness,
Something preachers have learned:
God has God’s plan for God’s people.
Second, liability.
Legal makes you spell things out:
Do not take Zoltoff
If you are allergic to Zoltoff
Or to the ingredients in Zoltoff.

But then new uses for familiar words,
A way of saying who you are:
She, her, he, him, they, them.

The school association was meeting
In Chattanooga.
This was 1960.
The Latin teachers were packed
Into a tiny hotel room
To hear a paper on some obscure grammar.
A man about 40, a priest, I think,
Turned to the group, smiling
As if to reveal a monstrous secret:
You know the trouble
With the relative pronoun,
Don’t you:
They don’t always agree.

Basket Weave

Memory, that persistent puff of lint
Caught on the edge of the kitchen counter,
Preserved to no good use:
At the supermarket I lurk
While my wife considers cleansers,
Idly eyeing a shelf of
White plastic waste baskets.
Where in the world, a clerk once asked,
Did you find that beautiful basket-weave?
This was 40 years past,
In a discount store long since
Gone belly up,
Many towns and houses ago,
Along Route One,
Strip malls bulldozed out for condos,
Maybe just inside Fairfax County.
What has become of the
Basket-weave waste can
We bought that day
And the woman who sold it to us,
Remembered out of so much not,
How many check-out lines stood in,
How many white waste baskets yet to buy?

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

Leave a Reply