3 Poems by Holly Clapp

Nothing but Noise

If you want to talk to your husband
and your husband is very new
be sure to speak right into his ear
so the words don’t get caught
between your throat and the noise
hovering in space between you both
otherwise all he hears is garbled
junk that he won’t take seriously
and anger wells up
around your teeth, makes it hard to chew,
leaves a bad taste on your tongue
which you blame on him
even though it was your assumption
that cooked the nasty peas in the first place.


Sometimes I watched when your mom
placed little red beads of Tabasco
onto the tip of your little pink tongue
which you would stick out at her defiantly,
lips clamped tightly around its base,
your shoulders held boldly back.

I don’t think your mom liked disciplining
you in this way, always holding the bottle behind her shoulder
while she looked at you, eyebrows raised,
waiting, hoping
that you would apologize so she
could put the Tabasco back on the pantry shelf.
But you could not restrain your sassy
tongue and you almost never liked to take
anything back after you freed it
from your mischievous soul.

One, two, maybe three little drops
and suddenly you opened your mouth wide,
crying loudly and fanning your tongue
with both hands, although sometimes
you pounded your fists in the air
as if you were squishing imaginary grapes.
You always stamped your feet on the linoleum
floor, running in place and turning in circles
as if that would help you put out the fire.

Sometimes I was amused by this display,
the dance of the naughty paying for his crimes,
and I was glad because you had it coming—
I always heard what you had to say.
Other times I had to turn away from the humiliation,
knowing that if I stepped over the line
around your mother I would suffer a similar fate.
Either way, I could never bring myself to eat
Tabasco while I was growing up.
Now, when I sprinkle some on my eggs,
I think of you doing your chicken dance
and wonder if you can
ever bring yourself to dash a little Tabasco
on anything you eat without suffering,
inwardly cringing when the taste touches your tongue.

[Family Photo]: Part 1

There are no wedding photos
in my father’s house.
There are photos of grandparents,
of aunts, uncles, cousins, kindred.
There are photos of children
chasing after puppies in fresh cut grass,
a tangy sour scent captured in stills.
There are photos of sons
scurrying across courts, stealing
pebble-textured basketballs,
faces fuzzy in captured motion.
There are photos of a daughter,
her coke-bottle glasses reflecting
flashes of camera light, her eyes
undefined, unrevealed, unfettered.
There are photos of evolution:
adolescence toward adulthood–
portraits, duplicates, interpretations.
But there are no wedding photos
in my father’s house.

Holly is a writer.  Sometimes she likes to deny it, but truly she is a writer and has been since she was only 7.  Currently Holly is balancing being a newlywed AND trying to graduate Marylhurst AND working a thankless job.  And she is a writer.  That’s what really counts.

Photo courtesy of CWengerCWenger via Creative Commons / Google Images

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