“Pretty Sure” by Barbara Schmitz

Barbara Schmitz


I’m sure I heard
the Pope say somewhere
There is no Hell.

But that’s like
my hairstylist
(whom we call
The Queen) saying
she read or someone
read to her that humming
is good for you.

She can’t remember
where she read it
or had it read to her
but she hums and
sings along with
the country western
station as she snips and
colors my “crowning glory.”

It’s like knowing
that cinnamon
and sauerkraut are
good for you
but not remembering
what they do.

I did get to
tell my mother
before she died worrying
about being punished
in eternity, You did
nothing wrong!
So we hum and snip
and munch along,
pretty sure there’s
no eternal sizzling
waiting and just maybe
something pleasant

will arise from
ethereal haze to surround
our no tasting
no hearing
no touch souls
when they glide
to the other side
buoyed up by one
high note of sad music.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012

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Barbara Schmitz: “At age 30 I decided if I wanted to be a writer I ought to do something about it—wrote occasionally on scraps of paper blowing about my house. So off I went to Naropa Institute to study with Allen Ginsberg. I ended up in a conference with Allen who looked through my notebook. He scratched his beard and asked, ‘Did ya write all this?’ I nodded, ‘Is that a lot?’ He affirmed that it was and added, ‘You should be reading.’ ‘Oh, I read a lot,’ I said. ‘NO! Giving readings. I’ll talk to Anne (Waldman).’ So at the next Naropa reading I was added to the roster and, all at once, I was a poet, reading with the Beats!” (website)

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