Wanda Smith
    When I used to go to the Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach, one of the best poets I listened to there was Wanda Smith, whom we are lucky enough to have here today.  Wanda has a fabulous voice—I mean her outstanding physical voice as well as the one that comes out in these poems, brimming with warmth, humor and humanity.  In the wake of Michael Jackson’s death and the orgy of press coverage that surrounded it, I remember Wanda reading a poem she wrote about a person, or perhaps more than one person, who had lived far from the limelight or the paparazzi and yet whose life (or lives) had made a difference to others, to many others, in a profound way. That’s what good poets are good at doing—not praising the gown at the Royal Wedding but poking gentle fun at the stuffy official picking his nose or smelling his finger when he doesn’t think anyone is watching. Wanda writes this kind of gentle, subversive poetry that is so full of Southern California nostalgia (Gidget, drive-in movie theaters, the Hollywood sign) and yet so contemporary (cell phones, Facebook, the OMG generation).  Wanda is the perfect poet to listen to, and learn from, on Mother’s Day.  

The Soft Trap

Joys of motherhood do not promise a
world of rest and relaxation.
Sleep deprivation is a torture invented by
fascists and infants.
Some babies cry all night long with colic.
Toddlers are thirsty at 3 AM or complain of
bad dreams and ear aches.
Mommy looks forward to her child's nap time.
A few minutes for herself to shampoo
her hair, polish her nails, read a book or write
a poem would be a treat.
At age three, her little angel decides
she no longer needs her nap but mother does.
Their wills clash.
The infant's hard as a railroad spike,
Mommy melts like jello.
She tries to outsmart her child with adult tricks.
Lies down at her side and fakes sleep.
When the time is right she slips away.
This act works once before baby catches on.
The next day baby puts her soft little arm around
her and at the first move those bright
eyes pop open and Mommy is trapped.
Now the daughter has a baby herself but her
mother is still trapped by that soft little arm.
She awakens sometimes at 3 AM at the sound
of a ringing telephone when her daughter is in pain.

2011 Wanda Smith
Wanda Smith was a Featured Poet who read her poetry at the May 2011 Second Sunday Poetry Series