This week’s poem asks us to consider what is left out of the images that home design magazines present. The poem only asks questions, so we, the readers, are left to consider what the answers might be.

Deborah Cummins splits her time between Portland and Deer Isle and is the author of an essay collection, “Here and Away: Discovering Home on an Island in Maine” (Maine Authors Publishing, 2012), and two collections of poetry, “Counting the Waves” (Word Press, 2006) and “Beyond the Reach” (BkMk Press, 2002).

What Those Slick Home Design Magazines Don’t Ask

By Deborah Cummins

Aren’t the world’s forests impoverished enough

without cutting more exotic hardwoods?

Why should we trust whatever stuff

Permaloft and Krylon are made of?

How can such a thin-spined lamp

stand up to the dark?

At a desk mazed with drawers and compartments,

what excuse can be used for the lost message?

How can lacquer, even multi-layered,

block insults being hurled across a table?

Who’d happily take a seat on hand-rubbed

Moroccan leather to swallow the bad news?

Or take it on the chin

in front of a gilded, rococo mirror?

What’s the worst that can happen

if we lose our lustrous sheen?

And please explain: who might we become

if our cluttered rooms looked like these?

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Deborah Cummins. It appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

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