I knew a woman in a wheelchair,

lived in a clapboard house,

with a lawn she somehow trimmed.

and a garden she kept well-tended.

And another had breast cancer.

She wrote letters to all her friends

in the brief nauseous pauses

between radiation treatments.

Another had five kids

and a husband who walked out

but somehow put food on their table

and a roof over their head.

Another got a degree in some branch of science

and the consensus of her male friends was that

“I didn’t know women went in for

 that sort of thing.”

Of course, there was the one

who was forever trying to hide

the bruises on her face with makeup,

stayed with her abuser.

And another who hated herself so much

she sat around the house all day,

getting fatter and fatter

so she could hate herself the more.

From the start, there was need for women.

And a physiology to go with it.

Life was incomplete. There was a vacuum.

And then all kinds started filling it.



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Now I know why so few people
Go to their high school reunions:
You just don’t know what you’re going to see,
And it can be a shock.

I had a few shocks, but not too bad
And then I saw the girl
That I had loved so hard
And wanted so badly
I didn’t even dare to sit near her,
And when we were paired up
In a biology lab
I never lifted my eyes
From my sacrificial frog.

Tonight our eyes met and she smiled.
I couldn’t move, but out of the realm
Of sheer impossibility she walked—
She floated—over to me,
Took my hand and didn’t let go.

We talked a little while,
I can’t remember any of the words
But her voice was just the same.

We got drinks and sat down.
She smiled again (my heart twisted)
And said, “Remember Doctor Cohen’s biology?
How he always smelled like formaldehyde?”

I added, “And how his shirt would pull out
When he reached up to write on the board.”

She tipped her head back and laughed,
Then looked at me seriously,
“I wanted to go out with you,” she said,
“But I was real shy back then,
I didn’t know how to get your attention.”

“You got my attention,” I said grimly
And my lips were numb.

“I wish we had dated,” she said.

“Is it too late?” I said.
I was trying for lightness
But it came out more like panting.

She laughed again, and said,
“Oh much too late.
I’m a grandmother.
And my husband had an accident:
He’s in a wheelchair
And needs me full time.
It took me a week
To get an LPN for tonight.”

Then our class president gave a speech,
There were some awards,
A benediction, and it was over.

“Can I walk you to your car?” I said.
“No,” she replied. “I still live here.
Small town.” One more smile,
(Was it wistful?) and she was gone.

For sure, I know why so few people
Go to their high school reunions.

JUNE 2019



3 Days

I have the sudden desire


To eat paint chips, drink turpentine, root around in the garden

For toadstools and mushrooms

Fight a bear. The phone sits in its cradle, refusing to liberate me



From all of the good choices in life that brought me to this point

The conscious good-food choices and intermittent exercise

The firm shake of my head when offered dangerous substances


To ingest, to smoke, to shove up my ass.

There are things I did that could have led me to this point

But it doesn’t seem like there were enough.

Read more "3 DAYS – HOLLY DAY"