A Poetry Syllabus
{An Umbrella Special Feature}


Lois Marie Harrod’s

chapbook Furniture won the 2008 Grayson Press Poetry Prize.

Previous publications include the chapbook Firmament (2007); the chapbook Put Your Sorry Side Out (2005); Spelling the World Backward (2000); the chapbook This Is a Story You Already Know (1999); Part of the Deeper Sea (1997); the chapbook Green Snake Riding (l994), Crazy Alice (Belle Mead Press, l991); and Every Twinge a Verdict (Belle Mead Press, l987).

She won her third poetry fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts in 2003. Among her journal credits are American Poetry Review, Blueline, The MacGuffin, Salt, and Zone 3.

She teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey.


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Ms. Finicky’s Grammar Lessons

Lesson One: The Concrete Noun


So whazza big deal,
firs he double-crosses us at poka
then tries to float off like some hottair balloon.

Well you just taka him to dat oily trawler
and stick dose shiny patent leather shoes of his
in a bucketa wet cement.

Plop. Over he goes.
Justa like that
croaking frogger Buso into his quiet pond.

Thazza what we do
with dose sneaky abstractions
like loyalty and trust.


Lesson Three: The Demonstrative and the Personal


That guy, the unrestrained love gut,
knows what he wants,
this, not that, darling
wear these, not those

while she’s the finicky intimate,
sure of such desire
but just as hard to love.
Just what is she supposed

to beMiss or Ms or Mrs
and how is she to know
if she wants it now
or laterwhatever it is.


Lesson Five: Syntax


In our neighborhood
we live like words in a sentence,
close but not touching.

No hyphenated drinks-at-eight
with the participles dangling blue-collar
down the street.

No conjunctive picnics,
no propositional barbecues.
No wild parties

thrown by the little articles next door.
No matter how we parse,
we don’t seem to connect

though from phrase to phrase
we pass on the street
and mumble something about our flatulent dogs.