Tag Archives: PoetSpeak favorite

Dedication by Michael Meyerhofer

In our house, not once did we hear
someone say you’re welcome
in answer to thanks. Instead—it’s all right,
backhanded reminder of the sacrifice
this or that Dollar Store trinket
cost folks well below the poverty line.
This is a hard habit to break.
Don’t worry, it’s fine when you thank me
for helping you move furniture
or coming to your reading,
your wedding, your beloved’s funeral.
Oh, it’s all right, to students
when they thank me for margin comments,
for letting them turn in assignments
half a semester late. It’s all right
the door held open a few second longer
for the jock on crutches,
for the blue-eyed girl breathing
into the straw fixed to her wheelchair.
I want to thank the moon for tilting
in time to highlight the rain
spilling off a parked windshield,
my body for keeping itself free
so far from cancer, diabetes, suicide.
I want to thank my fear of death
for melting whenever a beautiful woman
bends to drink from a fountain.
I want to thank the crows for mating
on any windowsill but mine.
And their answer, rising in chorus
with each day’s rusty sunset:
It’s all right. It’s all right. It’s all right.

It’s a New Day by David Kinsey

You’re in a new room with clothes piled on the floor and a TV that doesn’t work. You’re lying in bed, you’re on your side, you hear water running, you hear dogs barking. In this new bed, your muscle memory remains and you go through the motions which are by now instinctual.

It’s a new day in this new bed, but you’d never know if they didn’t tell you, didn’t touch you, didn’t run their hands hot and burning across you, leaving impressions that whisper.  This is Saturday. This is the first day of your new life, like it or not. Breakfast won’t be on the table and coffee isn’t ready. You want to go home to your own bed, but you don’t get that, you get this bed, this Saturday, dogs barking and that water still running.

You keep waking up like this and you aren’t even sure where your own bed is anymore. If home is where the heart is, then in that home there is a bed where you think you left your heart, at least you’re praying hard that it’s there because you can’t keep retracing your steps and getting it wrong and slamming into new beds and bodies. But you’re here now and whatever you have beating in your chest is giving a soliloquy, and it’s as trite as a sunset or a picnic on the beach or a long walk on a short pier or whatever you’ve been told love is, so maybe this is home for now, maybe this is just what you need.

You are in a new bedroom and it’s Saturday and the TV doesn’t work but you keep staring at it like it’s playing your favorite movie and you recite all the lines and they think you’re clever, but what do they know?     What did you ever really know besides how to kiss a little harder and just what to say to end up in a new room with clothes piled on the floor and a TV that doesn’t work?

Back Pages by John L. Stanizzi

BACK PAGES
For my father

Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

My Back Pages
Bob Dylan

Just another day of flawless clarity,
as the gray canvass tarp of the dying river
nudged the distended carcasses of rotting fish
under a sky that no one ever noticed,
and you, the hod-carrier’s middle boy,
running from the bakery to your flat,
your stolen loaves of bread still warm and soft.

*

Frankie and Rosario out in front
every summer night for stick ball games.
Batting once, Frankie swung and missed,
rapped you hard and broke your Roman nose,
umbo on its bridge they never fixed,
aquiline distinction embarrassing you.
You remember this with alacrity.

*

Memories of joining the service out of spite,
and still the old man counted your army pay.
Reaching for your wallet he’d stare at you,
condemning you for walking out on him;
his share was every penny that you earned.

*

Angelo was the first to mutiny,
packed whatever he possessed and left.
Retelling this you never forget his gun
inside the zipper pocket of an old suitcase.
Legends are made in dirty hotel rooms.

*

Men grow up to see their fathers die,
and you remember yours as strong and good,
yet years would pass before you forgave his faults.

*

Joey showed up drunk one Christmas Eve,
undid what little grace your family had;
nine guys couldn’t bring him down.
Every year you resurrect that tale.

*

Jalopy parked against the curb, you posed
under the murky light that lit the sign —
Lun On Company Chinese Grocery –
you and Dolly in each other’s arms.

*

And after that she brought you home to Mama.
Useless to try and hide the truth from her;
Grease-ball alley cat was all you were,
underprivileged thug who came from Front
Street’s slums.  Her daughter certainly would not give
the time of day to a cross-town wop like you.

*

Soon enough you’d get to know her dad;
every night you’d go and find him drunk,
permanent fixture in the Red Ash Grille,
the Mayor of Albany Avenue holding court
early evenings giving in to neon,
memories that, in spite of things forgotten,
burn as if they happened yesterday,
every one a clear and perfect scene,
reminiscence that won’t abandon you.

*

Once there was a time that you would joke —
“CRS,” you’d laugh to all your friends,
then entire decades began to gray.
“Old Timer’s Disease?  What the fuck is that?”
Behind the now of the moment we are in
each remembrance turning into dust,
reaching back to where they used to be.

*

No memories can return; they don’t exist.
Oh, you will always be a business man,
veracious entrepreneur of your own making
endeavoring to work with dignity,
manual labor a constant source of pride,
but nowadays the road to work is strange,
every street some exotic foreign land,
relics of the streetlights burning out.

*

During the day now you are in your cellar
eking out a past from yellowed photos,
collages used to trap old memories,
each one carefully cut and placed and framed.
Mid-morning you will go out in your yard;
behind your stockade fence you will take off
everything except your underwear,
rattle a bell for the animals to come,

*

get down feebly on your iron knees,
offering peanuts to the squirrel you’ve named,
never once thinking about the days’
evanescent trek from light to dark.

Catalina Street by Rachel Inez Lane

What is it about Catalina Street
that makes me miss him?
Is it the tops of the black palms

floating up like lost balloons
or is it the pushup bra I found
under the lemon tree? On my

street abandoned couches
wag their tongues and take
Bedbugs for lovers. Where thin

walled fights remind me
of the ache of being fucked,
of being kissed everywhere

but my mouth, and how
does one escape the heartbeats
of looming helicopters

overhead trying to find
a man who belongs
near the carnival

near the side of town where
broken lamps, Popsicle sticks
and jails go to sleep.

I dreamed I said, yes
I dreamed the ring dug so
deep he had to chop off my

hand just to save me, so when I
miss him does it taste like ginger,
or look like a stolen car?

I never knew where he was,
to me he was just a plane
I could see when the smog drained

and tonight, I watch two children
get spit out on Catalina Street.
I watch while they dig

through dumpsters, while the girl,
tells the boy, to please, hold me
and hold me. To please

grab her ankles even if they break,
so she can search for empty bottles
and without hesitation she gives

him the broken ones, gives
him the green ones
and when everything is gone

smears the blood from her
hands all over her shirt, right
where her breasts will be.

Love Song for June Cleaver by Rachel Bunting

June. Just your name is enough to make a girl
sweat.  We can only imagine what waits beneath
your full skirts. Don’t play coy, June, we’re not
living in the 50s anymore. Welcome to the brand
new century, a sex positive culture of vibrators
and feminists who wear lipstick and shave their
armpits. We’re not the troublemakers you once
thought we were, June. We talk about the problems
with our partners in public, we strap on and play
all the roles. We have opinions, we vote because
that’s what good girls do. We throw elbows
and wear fishnets, jump over each other in skates
at roller derby bouts while the needlepoint stays
home. We wear pants to the office, we answer
our own phones, we make the decisions that affect
the bottom line, we profit share, we pick up the kids
and drive through McDonald’s, we coif our hair
and line our eyes with black or brown or purple,
we watch tv shows about sex and enjoy it. We scream,
June, we scream when we come. We expect to come.
We vajazzle, we make our bodies sparkle, we ink them,
we work out, we show cleavage, we eat ice cream
in the morning, in bed, in the bathtub. We do it all
because we can, and we don’t wear aprons while
we cook. We can teach you everything you need
to know, June. Take our hand. Don’t let go.

For Jacob, at Seven by Rachel Bunting

You are a storm without warning;
cactus spikes with no body sticking
up from the middle of the road;
your stinging mouth always moving,
asking, singing; you are kinetic,
never potential; winged and buzzing;
your hands, your legs, all of you is
growing, no longer small; you are colors
and noise, a traffic jam downtown
at 4:30 on a gorgeous Friday afternoon;
a jet cruising through the clouds; a Pollock
painting come to life; scrambled eggs frying
in a pan; a tangle of weed roots on the side
of the garden; sticky Kool-Aid drying
on the counter; the bite of gravel into skin;
the finch’s sudden flight.

Saturday Night in the Waning Days of San Francisco by Joe Clifford

(A Sonnet for My Ex-wife, Hadley)
The City burns slow pink electric—

liquor store signs, seething bug eyes, I

watch scamper white ghosts and paramedics

from my window to the street outside.

She’s asleep.  The white of her shoulder blurs

with the radiator steam as it rises.

She looks barely alive, against the flicker

of the pale sodium yellow lamplight

cast up from Sixth and Mission.  It’s months

before I’ll try to swing from a ceiling,

days before the arrest warrants come,

hours ahead of the sickness daylight brings.

Tonight’s just another dirty hotel room,

Far away from home, far away from you.