Featured Poem: Furious, Too

Diane McDonough
Cape Cod Branch


(after reading fury by Lucille Clifton)


Mama’s hand delivers
rhymed and metered stanzas
natural as blue trumpets
of a morning glory vine
unfolding in an incubating sun.


Papa fears the shape of those blues
she wears like a crown, fears her thinking
she’s some star like Billie Holliday —
singing her poems as she pulls
wet clothes from the laundry basket,
pins them to the line,
towels and shirts slapping
in the wind like applause.
So in a 1940s cold spell, like Jack Frost,
he freeze-dried those vines,
said, No. You won’t publish no poems in no book.


Mama freaked, her eyes severed connection
with everything but her pages,
and she scooped them up,
cradling them like some precious stillborn.
Dashing to the cellar, she threw them
into the belly of the furnace.


Papa fertilized the garden with the ashes,
wins prizes for roses, long-caned Bourbons
with lipstick pink petals, and prickly rugosas
he planted in a hedge ‘round the house
crowding out every last morning glory vine.



  1. Mary Lou Taylor says

    Makes your blood boil. And those poems can’t be retrieved. Yes, powerful. Yes, stunning. This has happened more than once.

  2. Wow. Love this poem and the images and the meaning and the heat and the clarity.

  3. Dear Diane,
    This poem was beautiful on so many levels. Made my heart sad, feeling Mama’s heart break–I loved the line ‘singing her poems as she pulled clothes from the laundry basket, . . .towels and shirts flapping in the wind like applause”. . . Sad too, seeing the sacrifice of her hard creative work (and dreams) go up in smoke and fall flat like ashes in a cold furnace. Sad for Papa’s indifference, and calloused self interests–with him cultivating a rose garden instead of his precious bride’s dreams. You captured it! Memorable telling, poetic on every line–thank you sharing with it all of us.

  4. Mary Joan Meagher says

    What an honest, sorrowful poem. I was fortunate to grow up with a suffragette mother and grandmother and a loving dad who honored the powerful creative women in his life. It gave me the courage to ignore the cultural signals dished out to other women I knew in the 50’s, and to honor my own path. I love this poem, and I hope the mother in the poem was able to surmount the thorns of the rose hedge, and to smell the scent of the roses in the next verse of her life journey.

  5. Kathleen Vermaelen says

    Absolutely stunning!

  6. Dorothy Kamm says

    Powerful imagery!