Poems by Palline Plum 2016

PALLINE PLUMPALLINE PLUM is a visual artist who has published poems in regional journals, anthologies, and Poetry in Buses in Kalamazoo. Her notable poetry prize was at the Dancing Poetry Festival in San Diego where she won the Grand Prize. Palline earned a BFA in Fine Art from University of Michigan, and an MFA in Sculpture from Queens College, CUNY. Palline was a social worker for many years, earning her MSW from the University of Michigan, and has placed and supervised over 40 high school age foreign exchange students.

Something:(Only something)

Peaceworkers, Remember this :

We are a violent species,
We take life,
Every day.

The lives of
Plants or animals
Feed our bodies.

There is
No other way
To stay alive.

Also this:

We find violence
Beautiful – It often is.
(Especially from afar )

Violence satisfies,
Reveals deep truths, and
Nurtures us in many ways.

Do not forget!

(I surely have no answers.)

Dinners Out with Richard, (My Sculptor-Lover)

The first time
After showing me his studio,
He invited me to dinner,
At McDonald’s,
(Not really what I’d had in mind.)

Two years later
I came to see his work again.
New work.
I told him that what I’d seen before,
The piece about his father’s death,
Was better.

He liked that, and finally touched me.
We ate alone that time,
A local restaurant
Before he took me home,
And we became
One sculpture together, …for a while.

Another meal that I remember:
As I mustered up the strength
To go to where my father
Just had died,
And gather what remained.

Richard had a fancy Spanish restaurant
Kindly feed us early
So I could make my flight.
We were the only guests-
I spilled Gazpacho in my lap.

( not funny)

The 10 year-old Baby-Crazy Racist

The event was very brief:
There was a brown-skinned
Baby in a playpen,

I bent to pick her up,
And couldn’t
Touch her skin.

I did try,
I did want to.
I simply couldn’t.

I knew that I was damaged.
I had no idea what could
Fix me.

He read my poems to me,
His voice calm, at rest,
And deeper than remembered.

The baby squid, curious,
Darted to my mask
Spit a tiny cloud of ink.

(Another list poem)

Dear Hardship Program, (Or, How to Prove I’m Poor)

Please find, attached, my:
My Social Security and
Self Employment Earnings Statements.

You will find:
X-rays and
My Medical Specialist’s report,
Documenting the Prognosis for
Spinal stenosis, Scoliosis and

See the Crediti Union statement for:
Car insurance payments, but I
Cannot estimate of the value of my
More than decade-old
Scraped and dented car.

I have filled out the form to create,
(As best I can,)
A Budget,
That does not include my
Needs for flowers, music, clothes or books,

However, I am glad to find :
The form
Does recognize that
Expenditures for
Food and gasoline, may be,
(Though nothing else is proved that way.)
Documented through my bank .
So to comply with your instructions:
Here are my:
Credit Union and ,
Mortgage statements,
Also, printouts from the credit cards,
Citibank, American Express,
The Best Buy Charge, as well as
BankAmerica, and Chase.

You can see:
My Chase Bank Card was
Closed in 2008.
It can’t be used,
But still requires regular payments.

There are also :
Gas bills, Water, Sewer, and Electric.
I almost forgot DirecTV,
And also

The last is
Especially important
If I am to pay the rest!

The Music and Rythyms of my Diagnoses, Procedures, and Medical Traumas
(in alphabetical order, but some likely forgotten)

My Body is Scarified and in Sorrow…..

Accommodative Visual Dysfunction
Acquired Hypothyroidism
Asthmatic Bronchitis
Attention Deficit Disorder, Inattentive Type

Benign Hypermobility Syndrome
Biopsies (while awake) of Cervix and Thyroid Nodules

Cataract Removal
Cavernous Hemangiomas
Cesarean Section
Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis
Compression Fracture of Thoracic Vertebra
Corneal Dystrophy Surgery


Endoscopy and Colonoscopies

Fatty Liver
Fractures of Wrist, Elbow and Tibia

Incisional Hernia Repair
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Laser Retina Burns
Lumbar Epidural Injections

Macular Degeneration
Missing Anterior Cruciate Ligament
Miniscus Repair
Montezumas’s Revenge
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Ocular migraines
Open Thumb Reduction
Osteoarthritis (of spine, hands, knees and neck)
Ovarian Cyst Adenoma

Placental Hemangioma
Plantar Facieitis
Post-Polio Syndrome ( ? no test possible)
Post Surgical Abdominal Abscess and Adhesions (near death)
Premature Ventricular Contractions
Proliferative Vitreous Retinopathy
Pubic Symphysis Separation of Pregnancy

Retinal Buckle Surgery
Right Eye Vitrectomy
Rhegmatogenous Retinal Detachment

Spinal Stenosis
Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease
Sulfa Seizure

Total Thyroidectomy

Venous Insufficiency
Vertebral Hemangiomas,

Zoonotic Pinworm Infestation

(No wonder my body is Scarified and in Sorrow!)

the dream prompt:
(This from a dream, and it’s really hard to make a poem out of a single word!)

The Secret of the Universe ( or… Just of Life?)

I couldn’t make out
Who or what…
Spoke the single word –


That was all.

I awoke with that word
But not much else.

So… confusion reigned,
Still reigns:
Which one?

The direction of my face?
Where my eyes point?
What I choose to see?

Perhaps the planes of my torso?
And the frontal surface of the lungs
That bring forth breath?

Or maybe just…

The Wandering Lions of India
(A PBS film that aired tonight)

The lions are luminous and
Breathtakingly beautiful
On night vision film.

Lion families wander
Through human settlements
Near their forest refuge.

The humans here,
Are watchful,
But not afraid.

They come out
Into dark streets,
To contemplate and celebrate the beasts
Who feast on village cows.

We learn of partnerships,
Where farmers in the night
Call the lions to help them clear
Wheat fields
Of grazing deer.

Then the farmers sit
Close by,
Turn their backs to
Huge feeding cats,
Unwrap human food
And eat.


Tiny Ants In the Meeting House Floor,

During fellowship hour,
My heart was gladdened
To see tiny ants again

Working hard to
Dismantle the
Cup-cake crumb
Fallen from my plate,

My crumb has become an island
In an oaken sea,
With a workforce mining its
Cliffs for sustenance.

I had thought these tiny bugs,
(So small, they’re barely visible),
Were gone,
Extirpated, Removed,

And Banned
From this building that
Claims to welcome

Oh me, of little faith!

An April Computer Coma.
It suddenly checked out
On a Sunday afternoon,
Refusing open up it’s face,
Answer any questions,
Or even take it’s usual nourishment.

No coaxing, entreaties
Or desperate work-arounds
Had any impact.

Where do laptops go when
Artificial intelligence
Is beyond our human reach?

Do they play complicated
Fantasy games that no human
Could ever understand?

Or create intricate polyphonies
Beyond the range of
Any human ears?

Do they ever have mercy
On users who so badly need
Financial files
By tax-day?

Clear Creek Meeting Notes

If you come to Clear Creek Meeting on a typical First Day, you will find a large space that rises almost 3 stories to the roof line, with tall windows on three sides. Those give us views of skies and of campus trees as they are visited by winds and the Earlham College squirrels.

From the outside, passing by, you might not realize anyone is in this room during worship hour, because we don’t turn on the overhead fluorescents, so natural light is all there is.

Worship at Clear Creek is often completely silent except for some difficult-to-interpret utterances from the heating system, and the sounds of toy car wheels on the oak parquet floor when the very youngest attenders join us towards the end of the hour.

The silence in this meeting is deep and it is kind.

When there is vocal ministry from time to time, it is usually brief and very personal and free of spiritual competitiveness.

(To me, this is remarkable since probably half or more of our regular attenders of have studied religion professionally!)

As quiet as worship tends to be at Clear Creek, the fellowship hour afterwards tends to be noisy. People rush in to get their preferred hits of coffee or tea and various goodies, then cluster in dyads and small groups, checking in with each other, laughing, and herding small children as they forage at the snack table.


When I was a child
I  began to be attached
To empty space, mostly in churches
Soon after my mother died.
Later as a sculptor
Empty space became
The very stuff
Of my art, quite literally:I dug holes in clay,
Then filled them up with something hard,
To see the detailed shapes of spaces
I had made.
As a  grown woman with my lover,
We talked about connecting space ,
Before we made love
Separating it.Now as an old woman,
The spaces in my life
Are cluttered
But still beautiful.High ceilings reflect the
Light, that framed in golden oak
Flows through rippled glass,
To bless me.–



The tubes inside me

Produce the sounds
Of rusty hinges,

Of the chattering of wooden chair legs
Along uneven floor boards.

There are also all manner
Of clicks and whistles,
And subtle protestations

With minute modifications
And variations of all these themes
With each successive exhalation.

Much like an interminable
Piece of electronic improvisation

That eventually brings me sleep.