waitress poems

Friday, August 26, 2005


For days you sit in the house
with the shades down. Diapers
rot in pails; the litter
you have married flourishes
in every room, trailing you,
reminding you.
At night your husband,
the former high school track star
pulls you toward him again.
His body, a cage that will
release neither of you
rises above you,
each bar in place.
You whisper to the runner
imprisoned there,
to the woman who once loved him.
But your voice has become soundless;
his breathing fills the room.

Only on Tuesday nights do
you remember how to shout.
Your blood infused with
Coca Cola,
your body like a bow,
you release the ball, and the force
of all your quiet days
explodes in the lane.
One after the other,
the docile pins fall.
A strike! A spare.
Again and again, you need
to see them tumble,
collapsing like the high walls
of the house you have built
around your life,
around your shouts of victory.

first published in The Painted Bride Quarterly

Sunday, August 21, 2005


In the era of great movies,
they called women like her
dizzy dames. Good for a laugh
their lipsticked smiles still
poke out of old albums. I see her
pereched on a Desoto after the war,
showing off movie star legs
in a polka-dotted dress,
wide brimmed hat, and
open toed shoes.
But dames like that, the movies warned
don't age well.
Now beached up in an age of
action flicks and MTV,
she goes to yard sales
searching for heart-shaped pillows
and knick-knacks
with painted faces.
This is the last movie,
her life strewn across some
stranger's lawn, the grass
humming a theme song.
And she comes as always,
dressed for the part--cheeks
rouged to a feverish blush,
her eyebrows heavy black crescents
that have held her face
from tears for decades.
And sailing over the litter
that giggle they loved back
in the era of great cinema.
High pitched and dizzy,
it ripples through the air
like a blast of jazz trumpet
played on the wrong speed.

first appeared in Laurel Review

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