Donna Reis


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Sample poems and poems appearing in online magazines

poems on The Furious Gazelle

poem on Verse-Virtual


Outside our bedroom window, Roberta
has birthed her fawn in the overgrown
tennis court. The second he drops,
she licks him all over. He struggles
to stand and wobbles from the weight
of her tongue, meticulously turning him
from side to side. His hips rise above
his shoulders like pistons as he makes his first
exaggerated steps. Tired and content,
Roberta then lies down chewing her cud.
She only seems to focus on her babe
when he walks away. Soon he’s too exhausted
to explore and hunkers down in the tall grass.

Three years ago, a coyote lay in wait
of fawn season, taking two as they arrived.
One doe stoically walked by her baby’s
carcass without looking, while another
stood vigil for four days, darting at crows
who came to feed on the remains.
A naturalist, who lived with a herd of mule deer,
wrote that some does wither away after
the death of their fawns. I cannot help
but be afraid for Roberta and her little one.
When I find her munching my doted-on, day lilies
the following afternoon, I have to give her a pass.

                                                Donna Reis



Astonished to see my father laid out
in a suit, I turn to my stepmother,
who says, He was a husband and a man

before he was a priest, so he should
be ordinarily dressed. But he didn't
want that. He wanted to be buried

in his ivory, Gothic Chasuble with
the blue velvet cross and oval sapphire
sewn in its center. His love for the church

was the only thing that sustained him
through her trampling. This was his last
chance to be anything other than ordinary.

Already decomposing, his face morphed
into the washed-out man he'd become.
Nothing like the Irish wakes of my mother's

family where everyone clucks,
Doesn't he look grand?!
...Never looked better.

My Father's Secret Life

Assaulted nightly with drunken, wifely barrages,
my father coped in the only way he knew,
inventing an alternate life.

I could have been a vicar in Kent, England,
living in a stone manse, married
to a raven-haired beauty with violet eyes,

deep and lipid as Elizabeth Taylor's.
At the end of each day, we'd confide
thoughts and dreams over supper.

I would have wanted for nothing
outside our home: pies cooling in the larder,
floral wallpapers and bay windows fluttering lace.

Even hand-embroidered, cushioned kneelers
with Ecclesiastical, petit point, a labour
of the finest love I could imagine.

        Donna Reis

"My Father's Secret Life," will appear in OxMag in the Fall of 2017.