Inside this House


poems by

Pam Crow

Poetry book, 66 pages, $12 cover price

($10 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-061-9

Released: 2006

This manuscript was selected for publication after finishing as a finalist in the 2006 MSR Poetry Book Award.

Pam Crow‘s poetry has been anthologized in The Bedford Introduction to Literature and in Of Frogs and Toads. She was the winner of the 1995 Astraea Foundation award. Pam works and teaches as a clinical social worker in Portland, Oregon.

Pam Crow’s poems are full of wisdom, passion and insight into the human heart. Yearning for love and grace, alert to nuances of intimate relationships and cultural pressures, they see the world as it is while exhibiting a rare gift for lyric clarity. Inside This House may be a first book, but it is the work of a mature, vital artist.

—Floyd Skloot,
author of The End of Dreams and Approximately Paradise

This wealth of exquisitely sensual poems could be full of ferocious anger, railing against that hatred the poet knows too well: the laws “…shutting/ out light, naming us unfit, unnatural.” But it’s suffused with the light of wisdom and compassion. The book’s last line serves as its coda. These poems are “filled with the voices of blessing, over and over.”

—Paulann Peterson,
a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University

I Dream Leona Helmsly Comes to Dinner

She sits at one end of the table, her hair wild
but an impeccable manicure. When the delicata
squash is passed to her, she makes a face.
I hate squash, she says. That’s a penny
from your piggybank
, says my daughter,
who is laying out a noodle face on her world map
placemat, eyes somewhere in Canada,
mouth taking shape in Central America.
When Leona begins to protest, my daughter
looks over at me. Well, maybe not a penny.
It’s OK to say hate if it’s a squash, you’re not
hurting its feelings
. My son pounds
his high chair tray for emphasis, blows
a loud raspberry. But how about the feelings
of the person who cooked the squash
, considers
my lover, who inserts a spatula under
one golden squash canoe, laying it
onto Leona’s plate as gently as a newborn
on a changing table. Leona is having
none of this. Everything is too damn much,
she cries, and black mascara tears drip
onto the squash, splash on the white plate.
And then we are all crying, because it is
all too damn much, and laughing
at the precarious chopstick tower of rules
swaying in the middle of the table.
Leona dips her spoon into the warm
butter center of the squash, and my daughter
begins to sing. There is nothing I have done
that this tune cannot repair.


Yesterday we planted seven fruit trees
in the rain, dragged bare root saplings
fragile as your wrist
out to the middle of the field,
no one else in the silver
landscape, the soaked earth
sucking at our boots.

My hands slid on the shovel’s handle
as the earth’s mouth opened around
the Winesap Apple, the Asian Pear.
Rain leaked down my back,
inside the sticky skin of my coat.

My shoulders tightened to the task,
as I stomped the shovel down.
When you came painting mud on my cheeks
and waltzing with the Green Gage Plum
I rolled my eyes. It didn’t stop you.

You loosened my lips
into new countries,
settled my body, swaying,
back into herself. And my heart,
that ancient black handbag,
wheezed open
exposing pale green
shoots of winter flowers.


How can one woman’s skin hold so much light?
When my mouth brushes across the silken
desert of your belly, blossoms ignite
in copper sparks beneath my tongue, darken
in certain curves to caramel. You invite
me deeper, where I can feel you open,
sense the heat adobe holds nearing night.

I sing of apricot and brass. Hidden
coals glow sienna, almost out of sight,
stoked by my hands and breath, by my brazen
heart which flickers in this landscape despite
those who hiss I should not touch a woman
here, and here. Yes. Pull down the stars tonight.

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