Poems by Palline Plum 2018

Palline Plum newPALLINE PLUM is a visual artist and recovering social worker, who has published poems in Tiferet, in regional journals, anthologies, also…in Poetry in Buses in Kalamazoo. Her notable poetry credit was winning a Grand Prize at the Dancing Poetry Festival in San Francisco. (It was also a hoot!) Palline earned a BFA in Fine Art from University of Michigan, and an MFA in Sculpture from Queens College, CUNY.

Currently, she obsessively photographs flowers in all their stages from bloom to decay and exhibits and sells the results in a variety of settings. https://www.facebook.com/PallinePlumPhotography. Palline has also placed over 45 high school age foreign exchange students, who came from more than 20 countries to study in Indiana and Ohio. She considers this important work for the future of our world.

This Retrospective Show

My early photographs
Stare back at me
Across five decades,
From when I was quite young.

Here, a hurt and angry child,
Who wasn’t really crazy, but
Was locked up all the same
As though she were.

There, a drowsy Danish painter,
Who truly was,
Both beautiful and nuts,
But in a gifted way.

One young woman’s face
Pulls me back,
Over and again
Across the decades,

Her spirit timeless,
(How did I manage that!?)

Twenty years later,
The portraits change,
These people are not alone
Within their frames.

They glance at one another,
And sometimes,
At my camera too –
A three-way dance.

In these
My camera caught their ways
Of touching hands, and faces,
Shoulders, too.

Included in this show
Is also recent work,
Not populated by humans anymore,
Except by implication.

My newest flower portrait subjects
Need no warming up,
And make no decisions
To share their beauty with me.

I try to follow them
From youth to death,
Often only a few days –

I wait for light,
And choose which camera body,
Lens, and aperture and speed, then
When the shutter clicks.

My lens goes searching,
Finding, seeing
Gorgeous hidden passages
Within their blooms
Where I alone can not.

Thanks to the Internet

I can follow
Two of my rapists
Through the years.

There was another
Whose face I never saw,
And name
I never knew.

That one,
Because of the knife,
At least, he himself, did know
That he was one.

The others,
Those whose names are known,
Just assumed their right
To use my body.

So I looked them up
The other day.
Both have extensive
Public records.

Both are still alive,
And seemed to prosper
Within their realms.

Both are likely
Still confused.

Last Night, Embodied

After midnight
And after I put down my book,
I turned off my light
And found I had no pain
At all.

I didn’t want to sleep
Through this new,
And memorable state.

So I lay there,
Listening to the space,
The weight,
The roundness of my limbs
The blood moving,
Without pain.

No burning, no aching,
No need to shift from side to side.

Just me,

Here is the Story

Tonight I went to a lecture
On Process Theology.
I didn’t really know what that meant,
But hoped to learn.

From where I was sitting
I could only hear one,
Or maybe two words out of each 20,
So I didn’t learn.

(I did worry that I might be going deaf.)

I decided to write down
As many words as I could hear,
And see if I could make a poem out of them.

The disconnected, orphan words
Filled several pages, but didn’t seem
Much good for poetry.

(I will go back and look at them,
I might be wrong.)

After the lecture, and the questions,
I asked my neighbor if she could hear
What was being said.

It seems my hearing is no worse
Than hers.
It’s good to know!

Afterwards there were snacks
And lemonade.

A Salvaged Poem, (From a lecture I couldn’t hear)

I learned that God was mourning …
For me…Inside out.
Yes, inside out.

Connecting Blackness
To brown skin,
Absorbs all oppression,

But strips
The richness,
(inside out).

Ethnic suffering, crisis, trouble,
Resisting whiteness,
Military service,
Traditional religion,
Who has no power to kick that out?!

But they also are
Alive in memory,
And …INSIDE out.

Just show up into the world…..

We are named as co-creators,
And tied to incarnation,
With power, Inside out.

Tell the story: God is in me.
All are one, all the time,

Inside out.

(Yet Another)

I was drunk, asleep and
Twenty two.

My roommate’s boyfriend
Couldn’t find her,
Came into my bed,
Began caressing me.

I slowly came awake.
Said, “No!”,
“Sex and nausea don’t mix!”
He kept on.

I sighed and,
Went into the bathroom,
My diaphragm.

Years later he became a
Financial aid officer
For the university.

I tried to deal
With someone else.
That didn’t work.

When I told him
I was still angry,
He had no memory
Of the event.


This afternoon a helpful person
Went deep into my extra room
And came out talking about
Red and blue, plaid “fluffy totes”.

I knew exactly what she meant.
Otherwise known as
“Chinese luggage”,
They only cost a buck, years ago.

A friend gave me some back then
To help with some awful,
Humiliating move.
I don’t know which.

There were so many of those
Throughout the years
Til I finally came to rest
Here, in a more friendly town.

I got snugged up in this
Kindly, brick and oak,
Century-old structure – older than me,
But not by much, as houses go.

If I travel now
It is with hardshell,
Red or black spinner cases
That I can handle on my own

And bring back

Silent Meeting for Worship (In the Manner of Friends)

We gather once a week or more
To listen for God’s voice,
And pass on
What we think we’ve heard.

It’s our hour of silence,
The time to turn to “Light”.

Yeah, right!
That silence never really is:

There are shuffles, coughs,
And sometimes snores.
There are bird songs, wind songs
And, (if we are lucky),
Human infant songs.

All speak to us!

And even when no human person
Speaks a single word
The heating system’s pipes
Still have lots to say, in season.

They bang and squeak and sigh
In no clear rhythm
Or harmonic key.
For fifty years they’ve kept this up,
In vain.

No Quaker (that I’ve heard of)
Has managed to interpret
Their very vocal ministry.

The Glass Jar

The glass jar is
Short and
And really…
Just a jar.

It has been home
To some odd,
Purple tulips
For a while.

They stayed closed
Too long
In tight formation
While also shrinking,

Then, Thursday
Petals began to fall, and
Gorgeous spaces up
To light.

(My camera lens and I)
Had never guessed
Those colors,
Curves and textures
Could have been
Enfolded there