Two Poems by Susan M. Schultz


[Monday. Common area: television, on. Music in background.]

Act One: 10 a.m.

My mommy’s having a baby! A baby, a baby, a baby!

Gloria & Pat sit on the sofa.
Pat’s eyes dark, deep, her face white as powder.
Gloria has her head on Pat’s right shoulder.

Look! Two babies. Twins! The babies, the babies, the babies!

“I can’t hear a word you’re saying.”

“I said get out!”

“It’s hard for her because she dddddd.” [Hands flutter at waist]

Pat tries to stand up.
Gloria tries to kiss her right arm.
Pat falls back.
They resume their position.

A vicious German defense brought the Allied advance to a halt at Casino.
People say I look 10 years younger; I look 10 years younger.

“Do you remember, World War II, mom?”

Pat begins to cry. She embraces K, who starts to take her for a walk.
“Where are your shoes? You need shoes to walk. You need to stop
crying or we can’t go for a walk.”

Pat & Gloria resume positions on the couch.

I’ve been looking for a long time for someone to talk to and you’re it because you can’t understand one word I say to you. I want to talk about my girl back home. You I can tell the truth to

s s s s s s s – v v v v v v v v – s s s s
guh guh gonna go
There wasn’t much time to think about women

Pat is cold, she’s cold. She crosses her arms over pink & white striped blouse and a pink cross on a pink necklace. She wipes her cheeks on the bottom of her shirt.

“Marvelous! Good. Nothing.” This woman, also in stripes, runs off with my mother’s elbow straw from her can of Ensure. “How do you do your air?”

The luckiest people in the world

Act II: 4:30 p.m.

“Yer not talkin to yerself–I’m listenin’.” [Florence to self]

Why oh why can’t I
They love everyone but you on top of this f__ hill.

“She’s a witch, I tell ya–that’s what she is.”

“Are you with the police again? Your mother asks me out for beers, but I think I’m too young for her. We had a luau the other day, the hula dancers had their tops on, very disappointing. When you go back to Hawai’i, send me a shrunken head, ok, but make sure the eyes are closed.”

Florence: “He showed us that, I was wanting to go to the 5th floor; didn’t know how to, must be the 1st floor where they cook stuff.”

“They don’t care about us.”

“What’s your first name?” Susan

“What’s your name?” Susan

“Susan, and I still don’t know it.”

tangerine — [gunfire] — across the pond, yes she has

“Ruth, what is your name?”

“I’m Martha’s daughter.”
“I guess not.”

“I’m going to do half a bugle,
Shiloh fast–
Is she going to win you, too?
But they’ll be all right.
What we’re going to do and have Ann’s lot.”


“They’re all happy on this side
I got enough enough
Disquella, disk-la
That’s the porty of the way.”


“The name of the name of someone who is very cloned?
How is your doing?”

Mom: “don’t bother me, don’t bother me.”

“Is your mom and dad doing it?”

“I’ll make a noise.”

Janice weeps over dinner. Her neighbor says:
“You’re one of my favorite people.”

“I lost my keys.”
“That was peas, too.”

“4 5 5 5 5 5
Her story is see you in a better place.”

“You’re the classiest gal in the whole world.
Don’t be frightened.”

Maybe this time I’ll

“I want to go to the police
yes yes yes
to do something.”

“Please don’t throw us out.
Don’t shut us off, please.”

“I want to GET OUT,
what they’re doing to me

ACT III: After dinner

“Have you heard the one about the mushrooms?”

“Have you heard the one about the two carrots?”

–Tuesday, June 1, 2010




“She’s Welcome to Her Disease”

Stanzas in Meditation I


[Television on. Background music.]


WATSH! WATSH! Where’s my watsh?

Mom pushes the inhaler away.
Mom pushes the Ensure away.
Mom sits next to Pat, without the loving lean of Pat & Gloria, yesterday.

P: “I’m fine. I’ll wawawa dyu unnnnnn.” She starts to cry.

“That makes me happy because lulu. Lulu, yes
I hope it’s my father where it’s cuz you kids don’t have to be like that.
My back hurts: a little old lady that’s me.
You wad it you dad it you got it you dat.
These are beautiful things.
I think it’s perfect good,
if that’s what we’re getting it at [$5 off].
Turn him around you could get them back
because we need them; she wanted to was
helping fine with us help us, you don’t have
too much it’ll come.
I see it’s over dere dere or not,
I just don’t have a rose
because I might break it.
You done good
Your station but you’re good
were nice were; I bet she’s
welcome to her disease.
$5 off $25; where I going?”

“She’s wagging in her tail
and she was feeling bad.”

Gloria sucks on the black cloth foot of her doll with striped socks.


Gloria chews on doll’s foot.
“I’ll lie down & this is so good this is so good
& bound to feel that way.”

Pat: “W Y NNN
n n n n n n n n n
a a a a a a a a a a” [sound up, sound down]

Gloria: “It’s one lake that came out.”

Janice: “This lady is a good lady, can’t pretend.
Things have to be good. All ready for good people.”
[Walks around the room, pats everyone on the arm.]

Pat: H H H H H A A H A A A A

Gloria: “I have to take this table and shout!
We can read now!” [drops doll by dress to floor, falls asleep]



N: “Barbie Barbie / Barbie Barbie / Barbie Barbie / (goes into the dining room) /
Barbie Barbie / Barbie Barbie / Barbie Barbie / etc.”

Pat gets up, shuffles, does a slow circular dance, trips on G’s shoe, falls.


Stanzas in Meditation 2

Dinner time. Only Martha refuses to move to the dining room. She watches
Leonardo di Caprio promise the Irish vote to the Sheriff. She will not move.

She will not move for B.
She will not move for Susan.
She will not move for the young African man.
She will not move for R.
She will not move for E.
She will not move for Susan.

Susan and Martha sit in the television room.
Martha wants her to go away.
Martha waves her arm when anyone comes near.
Leave Martha alone.
She will come later or she will not come at all.

R tells E to tell Susan to leave the room.
It’s Susan’s visit. She’s never this angry. She always comes, if not
at first, then the second time you reach out for her hands.

B gets her into the dining room.
You can come back now.


Stanzas In Meditation 3

Gloria: “If you can go home, then grant it is!”

Steve comes to see his mother.
“You open da stoah?”
He doesn’t have a store.
“You didn’t open da stoah?”

Florence: “Not long, but over 7.
What do they put outside.
When people asked information,
They’d know it in opposition.
And that might we put on the was
a cover, he liked doing it too.
A bit from the door, so people
could cast away, he’s resting him
causing him if he got ready.
He had one of the other
give a test one of the girls–
he dropped her on the floor
and it was me.

It’s ok. The only time I talked to him.

Not against but sort of
they were having a good time
a nice church, he pays attention”

Gloria: “Under my rough.
If you give her Laos, invilleagable.”


Stanzas In Meditation 4

A scream.
Janice has fallen.
“Get up!”

“Oh G O D [screams]”
Her head is bleeding.
“Oh God I’m dead.
I don’t want to go
Oh I’m DEAD.
Oh God please help me.”

“It’s too late now.”

Get off my god damn”

Pat: “againagainagainagainagainagain.”

Sylvia: “She didn’t fall.
She was in somebody’s room.
I don’t know what happened.
What happened?”

An old woman is crying. (She always cries.)
She does not live in this lane.
Through her empty mouth she utters gutterals.
“Was ist los?”
“Menschen . . . Haus.”
I walk her to her lane. She is crying. She is speaking
in words that sound German.
I knew I studied college German for a reason.
She is Dutch, I’m told.
Her memory box full of family smiles,
She is crying when I leave.


Stanzas In Meditation 5

I tell Mom I am leaving.
“For good?”

–Wednesday, June 2, 2010



Susan M. Schultz has lived in Hawai`i since 1990.  Her book, Dementia Blog (Singing Horse, 2008), chronicles her mother’s decline into Alzheimer’s over a six month period in 2006-2007.  She completed the dementia project on Tinfish Editor’s Blog, ending it with her mother’s death in June, 2011.  Her other books include the recent Memory Cards: 2010-2011 Series, also from Singing Horse, and A Poetics of Impasse in Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (University of Alabama Press, 2005).  She has edited Tinfish Press since 1995.

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