Denise Duhamel & Maureen Seaton



Wuthering Heights 2


Everyone forgets Isabella, Edgar's
sister/Heathcliff's wife. She raised Linton
in the city near other mothers and sons,
near normal folks with sweet dispositions.
The moors were a drag, Heathcliff's only mission:
to win his sort-of-sister's love. Edgar,
mild-mannered as Superman as Clark
Kent, drifted around Thrushcross Grange, inept
at foreplay and farming. Heathcliff bet
it wouldn't work, then vowed Nelly Dean
would suffer for her crass narration. Fiend,
poltergeist, swarthy and sluggish sea-worm!
Dead Catherine entered Lockwood's dream, love-spurned,
missing home. Brave Isabella got catarrh.




Ulysses 2


When Bloom lost the key to Seven Eccles
Molly stayed locked inside, a Cheshire Cat
waiting for her cockcarracarra, her crass
lover who looked down salegirls' blouses.
"Blazes" Boylan might have been a total louse
to women, but he'd never kill himself
like Bloom's dad and leave behind a mangy pet,
a dog named Athos, for his son to feed,
a hip, anti-Catholic philosophy
of spirits traversing the firmament.
Thinking about transmigrations of souls kept
Bloom so busy his wife's affair blurred
with all the larger deaths around him, her
lovely ass rising, falling in fresh-dug graves.




Ethan Frome 2


Zeena enjoyed books about kidney ailments
and drank stomach powders after supper.
Ethan used to brag about his powers
as a sled steersman. Full moon or not,
he could find a locket buried in the plot
of any tragedy, Mattie's lost ring.
Ethan's mother's name was Endurance, willing
wife of fifty years, can you imagine?
Everyone forgets Zeena's valiant
nursing of Endurance, her soothing hand.
Ethan had a hard time feeling masculine--
before Mattie his life was limp pickles,
after, feeble lies, lavender vines stricken
with cancer, a gray sled, a denouement.




The Jungle 2


Jurgis never heard the term laissez-faire,
yet there he was in the thick of neglect,
pork-making by applied mathematics.
It was no wonder the Socialists
seemed like Santa Clauses checking the lists
of battered workers. Even muckrakers
couldn't expose Federal Inspectors
who didn't exist. Lithuanian
brides, like strong Marija and weak Ona,
all ended up in cold meat packing beds,
coerced lovers of red-faced executives,
and came home, full of shame, to their husbands.
They died before the Food and Drug Bill passed,
flew to heaven in big easy chairs.




Fahrenheit 451 (3)


Technocrats of the twenty-fourth century
had long forgotten Gulliver and Alice.
Who could memorize Swift's four trips or fish
along their memory banks for Carroll's fine quips?
Instead, loud commercials for toothpaste flipped
the brain switch off and that's what the lady said.
Still, books came alive and flapped their wings when fed
into fire. And everyone phoenixed
into book-smart boys and girls, their handkerchiefs
waving in surrender to literacy.
Salamanders escaped cemeteries
by hiding under the charred remains of logs.
Books chirped dirges as they burned, robot dogs
howling louder than electronic bees.




The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 3


Aunt Polly's hair turned as white as the fence
Tom got his friends to whitewash. She worried
about bad-boy Tom more than his goody-
two-shoes half-brother Sid who loved shadows
and hard vocabulary words, showing
off. Cousin Mary read from etiquette books
then waned, invisible and bland as a crook's
excuses. This book made a scary flick,
especially for those squeamish about ticks
and bats, devils and graveyards. Injun Joe
was the poorest devil of all, first John Doe
in the state of Missouri, dead in a cave
where stalactite-knives became his pre-grave
bouquets, where treasure became his repentance.