A Stonehold

By Wanda Coleman 1946–2013 Wanda Coleman
the thief has made me a gift of his night’s booty

somewhere, a daughter discovers her mother’s coral
brooch missing, somewhere, a man recoils at the absence
of his gambling stash. somewhere, a miser rifles
over a vanished ransom in newly minted silver

all this to buy a hotbed of memories
to feed the children fresh-killed lies
to open all the locks on love

forever is a moment we hold in our stomachs

as he brushes the smudge of his kiss
across my lips, i smell the cologne of his fear
a robust and smoky aroma mingled
with the woody musk of courtrooms and the stench of
pain-paved alleyways

i take these things and promise to say mum

Wanda Coleman, “A Stonehold” from Mercurochrome. Copyright © 2001 by Wanda Coleman. Reprinted by permission of Black Sparrow Press (Godine).

Source: Mercurochrome (Black Sparrow Press, 2001)

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Poet Wanda Coleman 1946–2013

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Wanda  Coleman


Poet and writer Wanda Coleman was a blatantly humanist artist who won much critical acclaim for her unusually prescient and often innovative work, but who struggled to make a living from her craft. In discussing “my life in poetry,” More magazine, April 2005, Camille Paglia said of Coleman: “She’s not as central as she should be. Her language jumps off the page.” With twelve books of collected writings published by the small . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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