GloPoWriMo Day 12: In the Style of Marvin Bell’s The Dead Man Poems

painting old woman mending clothes

The Old Woman With No Cat (#2)

1. About The Old Woman and Shrinking

the old woman with no cat grew up
      drinking milk
milk in a glass in pudding on cereal
ice cream cake chocolate with biscuits milk for growing
and she grew long as a sentence and tall
      as a year and a day
because little girls who drink their milk grow
big and strong and now that she’s big
she’s been told she’s shrinking
or so says the nurse with the measuring stick
who asks the old woman to crack a walnut in her hand
the old woman knows that trick
and scoffs at shrinking says
she’s swallowed enough milk to fill a cow enough to fill her
long legs two-times over in both of them
      plus some body else’s too
but the stick don’t lie says the nurse
and the old woman knows she’s
shrinking down into little and into tiny and
maybe nothing
as if nothing could be smaller than the old woman’s man on
a cold morning in January or June if you’re down
and the nurse with the measuring stick tells the old woman
that time is a knife cutting us all down to size
as if be ready to mix your ashes into a knobbly weft
of stars or have a plouter
in a stream down close and eye to nose with crawfish.

but she knows she’s milked herself into nothingness
      or so thinks the old woman with no cat.

Experimental poetry in the style of The Dead Man poems by Marvin Bell. Image from Wikioo: The Cat-eyed House by Ashtabula Harbor (1893-1967) Public Domain. Inspired by Napowrimo Day 12: Small. ©Misky 2022 Image Elderly Woman Mending Old Clothes, Moret, by Camille Pissarro, 1902, Shared with #amwriting #glopowrimo #napowrimo on Twitter 

16 responses to “GloPoWriMo Day 12: In the Style of Marvin Bell’s The Dead Man Poems”

  1. Gah. I absolutely love these. I may have to try my hand on a less busy work day.

    My faves from this one:

    “and she grew long as a sentence”

    “as if be ready to mix your ashes into a knobbly weft
    of stars”

    Misky, your writing continues to make me smile. And laugh. And think. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, De, and thanks for reading it.


  2. Fantastic Misky, as always! 👏👏 “that time is a knife cutting us all down to size” is my favourite line! 😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Ken. Appreciate your comment a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with De. What a wonderful poem!!!! I tried to look up Marvin Bell but I haven’t found any of his Dead Man poems. Was a bit distracted last night. Will look again. Am completely enthralled by what they are inspiring you to.


  4. Did she stop drinking milk? Do you think that’s why she shrank? Perhaps she needed the milk to keep going?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She never stopped drinking milk; she just stopped producing oestrogen which keeps bones from going porous and shrinking.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love these, Misky. They are so clever. I had a look at the dead man’s poems to see where you were coming from. To be honest, yours appeal to me more. You have a lighter touch, I feel. 👏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. If you enjoy reading them, I’ll continue to write them from time to time. Did you understand that Bell’s Dead Man poems aren’t about a dead man. It’s about living timelessly; in your present, your past, and your future, ie., if you were dead, and had another chance to live again, what you change or notice or remember or treasure, would you see or do things differently knowing your future? I’d hope that my perspective would change.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I got that. Bell is very good, but a little deep for my taste. Yours seem easier to relate to without as much effort.


  6. I think different offices (of doctors) have different measuring sticks. I know what I was, and do not believe for one minute I’ve lost 2 full inches! 😉

    I enjoyed your verse.


    1. It left me feeling a bit deflated, for lack of a better word.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As long as you are healthy in all other aspects, should height matter?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: