The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Marjorie Stelmach

Rhymes with Orange

                              William Stafford, when asked how he manages to write
                              every single morning, answered: “There’s no such thing
                              as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.”


At first, it’s wrenching, the body’s changes:
Your candle-count rises and your flesh descends.
Your fading beauty is already tinged
with gravitas (or gravity). Regardless, it portends
a slide into decrepitude. You claim that you refuse to cringe
from aging’s alchemy? Insist that in your case it ends
in gold? Not likely. Sepia. Bruise. A dingy,
porous bone-color—brittle. Shade of old bread.
What’s the antidote? “What rhymes with orange?”
The answer’s “Nothing.” Resign yourself, my friend.
If the squeaking hinge in the adage 
gets the oil, okay:  Olay it on.
Let no expense be spared. A syringe?
A scalpel? Hair implants? Extend
the artifice as best you can. You think your image,
grinning in the glass, will stay the fairest in the land?
Don’t make me laugh. Confess: where you’re hinged,
you ache, you part your hair behind, can’t
risk that peach. Admit: you sup on porridge;
a sniggering footman holds your coat. Enough. Amen.
As the Brits say, stop your wingeing.
Like the poet beset with writer’s block: give in.
Rhyme’s a pain and growing old’s a bitch.
Lower your standards. Pour the wine.




MARJORIE STELMACH's fifth book of poems is Falter (Cascade Books, 2017). Previous volumes include, Bent upon Light and A History of Disappearance (University of Tampa Press) and Without Angels (Mayapple). My first book, Night Drawings, received the Marianne Moore Prize from Helicon Nine Editions, and a selection of my poems received the first Missouri Biennial Award. I have just received the 2016 Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from The Beloit Poetry Journal. Individual poems have recently appeared in Arts & Letters, Boulevard, Florida Review, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, Image, The Iowa Review, New Letters, Poetry Daily, and Tampa Review, among others.



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