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Until Class Ends

 

Will they focus

on the textbook, use their minds,
learn new words like nerds.
Will they search, think,
settle down, not clown around,
not text friends, until class ends.
Will they study vocabulary,
nouns, faithfully zoom in.
Will they read stories aloud
to nourish and arouse.
Will they be less concerned
about socks that match
name brand hats, sagging pants.


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Maroon Bathroom

Three alcoves in the posh bathroom
boast clear-cut lines, wall-squares tiled
maroon. Twelve by twelve feet in size,

the far corner of the room houses the toilet,
seat always down, unless in use.
Next, the curvaceous pink sink

on a matching pedestal shines.
The shower stall ends the trio,
smoky glass conceals any naked body.

On the opposite side from these practical items
stands a huge bathtub polished to perfection.
During mid-morning a kindergartener,

daughter of the homeowner seeks attention,
wanders in the door open a crack:
sees the live-in housekeeper

smack on the toilet, doing her business
as the maid fishes out moments of
seclusion, a smoke break.


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Dressed in Personality

It shows on the studen
as he stretches out on the couch
in the lounge.

Limp legs dangle
as tight jeans, with random
holes, hug ankles,
thighs and calves.

Plaid sneakers—Vans—
red and black, look
plastic with elastic.

His mohawk, tapered
at the tip, shouts pink
and orange from forehead
to nape of neck.

Like spokes on a bike, strands
of hair stand stiff—razor
buzzed along sides, above ears.

Dressed in personality,
he studies the social reformer
Voltaire, next tackles
Shakespeare.


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Numb to the World

I spent forty years
on the prowl, searching for a mom
in friends like you who behaved
like an icicle, unwelcoming.

You never comforted me
when Dad died, no mom to hug
and cry with, only to cover mirrors
like good Jews do. You continued to
knit and crochet on the sofa—
without expression.

I didn’t attend the funeral
just sent to a friend’s house
because at age ten
you imagined me too young.

Mom, we never spent time together.
Rather you shopped, decorated our
house with silk linen, dotted Swiss
curtains and dined out, often,
leaving me with maids, always.

Any cooking I learned—
such as homemade apple pie
drizzled with melted butter
sprinkled with coppery colored sugar,
shaping matzo balls to float in salty liquid
light as feathers—came from Ann,
our live-in maid.

In the kitchen, close to her
I watched white potato lumps
swim in steamy milk
mashed with butter
spooned on decorative dinner plates.

Once a week I swung
open our beveled glass door
returning from school,
Cora, another maid, with warm cocoa
skin tore herself away from
polishing silver,
wrapped her sweaty arms around me
saying, “Mayleen, Mayleen!”
She smacked my cheeks with wet
kisses.

Her sweat-stained arm pits
released a foul scent
her zaftig bosom engulfed me.

Years past, feeling unwanted I shut down
to sleep, throw up in a
funnel-shaped waste basket
as you nagged me
to move, do something.

When I didn’t respond to anything,
became lethargic, you wondered why!
“Get her going!” you growled
at doctors. “Do something—
what am I paying you for?”

Dragged kicking and screaming
to a mental institution, nurses
in fitted-white outfits locked on black straps
buzzed my head, repeatedly.

For years I walked around like a zombie,
filled hollowness with food, watched television,
inspected closets stacked with towels, toilet paper,
visited Ann, who ironed in the basement.
I roamed our house dazed,
numb to myself, numb to the world.

Further along, in future decades,
flowers cracked my heart open.
I rubbed soil between my fingers.

Silk burgundy petals, yellow
whorls of Jerusalem sage
unfurled as rose-scented blossoms
drenched by sunlight
resonated in me.

I caressed
floral bouquets,
plopped stout stems
one by one, in a
smoky-gray vase
filled with water.

Now, at sixty-two
four years after your death,
I am finally responsible
for myself.

I thank you for
giving me life.

 


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The Desire of Mensareum Beardtounge

Being meek and mild
she cowers, hour after hour,
day after day, year upon year
by the stone tower. Paralysis
grips her body, keeps words
sequestered, stuck in
her cavernous throat.

She seeks inner wisdom
evaluates fate, studies the
slate of options— open wide
voice an opinion—or shrivel and die.

Her heart throbs in the garden
when the flower—
Mensareum beardtongue quivers.
Fire awakens an inner sensation.
Clear petals flare open, breathe

stir a warm furnace, an eruption.


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Lands on Lavender

At sixty-five, sorrow follows
the woman inside. She aches to ride
the two-wheeler she did at ten, not

hike through town, left foot,
right foot pound the ground, nor will
she sit on a gym machine,

circle her feet
in one space and go no place.
Fun arouses her as she mounts

a mountain bike wobbles, peddles fast,
splits the wind, curves corners, screams Wow!
dips at tiny ramps, pushes under oak trees,
ducks beneath spruces and pines, soaring—

flips, tumbles, (as she roars!), lands in lavender
with bloody scrapes on knees and thighs
nearby concrete, but rises undeterred,
swoons with a surging heart.

 


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Ninety-two

The spry old man, ninety-two,
wrinkled like crunched foil
car window open,
lets the sun tan his jutted elbow.

The wind ruffles coarse white hair
while he cruises along, smiles
at passing clouds, people
on pathways in the shiny Cadillac.

 


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Hungry Heart

The maid’s sister, Helen, worked in the kitchen
boss of the linoleum floor. Faded jeans folded up to bony
knees, a plaid shirt pushed up past elbows, dingy sleeves—

she mopped. She earned money, supported a do-nothing
husband with low wages from the wealthy homeowner.
Stooped like a hockey player chasing a puck,

she proceeded with vigor to spotlessly
clean the dirty floor. She swished the looped-cotton
mop round and round in figure eight’s catching

dirt and heel marks beneath counters, in corners. Then she plopped
the dangled threads into a soapy bucket near her grimy sneakers.
Stringy strands soon slapped moldings, splashed nearby shoes.

“Watch-out hon’!” Helen yelled gleefully when the young
daughter (bored in her house, cuddler of maids), of the rich mistress
jumped over the curlicue clump headed to her favorite destination:
the refrigerator, packed with unlimited food—
leftover meatloaf, juicy steak, chocolate cake, succulent shrimp,
whatever the maid cooked —all to nourish a hungry heart.


next page

Until Class Ends

  Will they focus on the textbook, use their minds, learn new words like nerds....
article post

Maroon Bathroom

Three alcoves in the posh bathroom boast clear-cut lines, wall-squares tiled maroon....
article post

Dressed in Personality

It shows on the studen as he stretches out on the couch in the lounge. Limp legs dangle...
article post

Numb to the World

I spent forty years on the prowl, searching for a mom in friends like you who behaved...
article post

The Desire of Mensareum Beardtounge

Being meek and mild she cowers, hour after hour, day after day, year upon year by the...
article post

Lands on Lavender

At sixty-five, sorrow follows the woman inside. She aches to ride the two-wheeler she...
article post

Ninety-two

The spry old man, ninety-two, wrinkled like crunched foil car window open, lets the sun...
article post

Hungry Heart

The maid’s sister, Helen, worked in the kitchen boss of the linoleum floor. Faded jeans...
article post