Death Barged In

In his Russian greatcoat, 
slamming open the door
with an unpardonable bang, 
and he has been here ever since.

He changes everything, 
rearranges the furniture, 
his hand hovers
by the phone; 
he will answer now, he says; 
he will be the answer.

Tonight he sits down to dinner
at the head of the table
as we eat, mute; 
later, he climbs into bed
between us.

Even as I sit here, 
he stands behind me
clamping two
colossal hands on my shoulders
and bends down
and whispers to my neck: 
From now on, 
you write about me.



We see them everywhere now.
Last month, a tiny baby one
more orange than red,
purposeful, crawling
on the wall
above my side of the bed.

Inside a domed reception hall
at a fund-raising supper,
in the middle
of our round table
sits a perfect dead one.

We eat our soup
until one of us spots it,
our spoons slowing.

My niece wraps it in a pink tissue,
as if it were a sequin dropped
from the sleeve of God,
and takes it home.

After the trial, a blizzard
of ladybugs on the courthouse steps,
more this week
than Berks County has seen in years.
At first we crunch them underfoot
until, horrified, we look down
and know what we do.

Hundreds of them,
shining orange and black,
the dead and the living together — 
the living
on the backs of the dead.


Poem About Light

You can try to strangle light: 
use your hands and think
you've found the throat of it, 
but you haven't. 
You could use a rope or a garrote
or a telephone cord, 
but the light, amorphous, implacable, 
will make a fool of you in the end.

You could make it your mission
to shut it out forever, 
to crouch in the dark, 
the blinds pulled tight—

still, in the morning, 
a gleaming little ray will betray you, poking
its optimistic finger
through a corner of the blind, 
and then more light, 
clever, nervy, impossible, 
spilling out from the crevices
warming the shade.

This is the stubborn sun, 
choosing to rise, 
like it did yesterday, 
like it will tomorrow. 
You have nothing to do with it. 
The sun makes its own history; 
light has its way.

“Death Barged In”, “Ladybugs”, and “Poem About Light” appear in Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno’s poetry collection Slamming Open The Door published by Alice James Books (2009).

About the Author: Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno was born in Reading, Pennsylvannia. She received her BA in English and MA in education from Temple University. She is the author of Slamming Open the Door (Alice James Books, 2009), a collection of poems about the murder of her daughter in 2003; the poet Sharon Olds called this book “a gift of power, truth, rage and beauty.” Bonanno received a grant from the Knight Foundation to help establish Musehouse: A Center for Literary Arts in Philadelphia. She also served as a contributing editor to the American Poetry Review.