Johnny Suspenders

My husband is a wandering hayseed planting

suspenders like apple trees, because when men get to

be a certain age

they lose definition in their midsections:

no hips, no rump, plump underbelly, and they wear

trousers that plummet down unexpected.

Poor hobblies struggle to the mailbox every morning

desperately clutching their waistbands and then

putter around the house waiting for their

pants to sink like wavelets circling white hairy ankles.

When my husband hears someone complain about droopy drawers

he exclaims, what you need are suspenders,

and he detaches his own and hands them over. The fellow

puts them on, clipping the ends smartly to his belt,

rolls both shoulders till the straps are comfortable, sighs with

relief secure from embarrassment and

gratefully struts like a smugful peacock,

insular and svelte.

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Me, Writing as My Husband’s Ex-Wife

Dear Karl, 

I thought I could

wait it out until you returned home from

basic training on leave I think they call it

but I cannot live here in America

one more minute

and anyway, I do not think I love you anymore.

I have filed divorce and am going back

to Copenhagen next week.

I never want to see you again. Please

do not try to contact me.  This

marriage was a so very big mistake, I 

am an artist not a wife and 

I feel afraid in such alien country.

I am sorry you just had my name

tattooed on your arm.

Best wishes, Marianne

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Paean to Menopause

Have I told you how happy

I am to be done with my period?

I suffered through a lifetime of

tampons stuck halfway up

my bleeding orifice,

string dangling between my thighs

wadding stuffed and stiff and swollen, me

waddling with necessity. It was

always a startlement, never planned, I would

turn around and blood

would seep and dribble and pour willy milky.

I had to speed to the drugstore

toilet paper bunched in my punch

scrambling emergency supplies: I swear

curse of womanhood bane of fecundity.

So when you stopped, oh my god

it was a celebration for

my vagina, blessings on it forever.

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We Were Watching

an exciting cowboy movie

and I said to my husband, I’m disappointed

we don’t have bar fights anymore

remember when we had that big one

and I threw a whiskey bottle at you

but you ducked and it hit the bartender,

remember that?

He laughed and shook his head


that actually we never had a bar fight, that

we were only in a bar together once

many years ago

in the Bronx

visiting my parents, taking a minute to ourselves we

walked to an Irish saloon around the corner;

put money down, ordered cocktails –

a few men sat at tables drinking

it was real quiet

and smelled like stale beer and gin.

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It’s All About the Cat

For breakfast Izzy and I share

a can of fish and two

spoons of buttered popcorn –

we open the Amazon box together

she watches while I put away the order;

we study cat videos on the computer

Izzy likes that; for exercise

we stomp into the garden, Izzy hisses the ducks

away – it’s just the two of us now,

me and the cat; when we drive to town we wear

matching masks – Izzy doesn’t need one but pretends.

I buy bottles of water at the store – Izzy

gets thirsty these days, no rain, big drought;

I get thirsty too. We

go home listening to the radio

playing bird songs –

Izzy rides gunshot.

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Like a Pallbearer

or like a bride walking

next to my mother down the rows

of flowers, hums of bumbles;

posies in our path we step and scuff:

My mother once found a twenty dollar bill in a parking lot

She has the eye the iris; me arm in

arm with her: not much of a treasure.

My mother loots the bittersweet and honeysuckle and

amber, she asks is this the treasure?

she answers.

I ask, Where is the garden? Where is my mother?

We battle each other, we fight an army of spirits,

sprites, fairies, goblins

my mother leading the vanguard

we find all the treasures.

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Going Outside But

rain began dispensing wet ants and

mucky leaves, seems nothing is

gloomy as autumn drenching;

and discouraging; cheered myself baking

bread; measured flour, yeast

warm water set to rise; then wouldn’t you know the

downpour dropped dead in the middle

and a cold bright sun came out

but you can’t just

chuck a loaf halfway through;

I waited until it was done

sliced a giant slab and buttered,

so good I had another,

finally ready for my walk buckled on shoes

opened the front door; oh gosh already too dark and

bitter for a walk;

tomorrow I better go outside

first thing.

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Skipping Stones

on the beach with my son

first we hunt smooth flat stones; I watch him. a

grown man stubbled and thin bends

over looking with me; he twists his body, stone flies

out of his hand, oh my god

so many skips;

I throw a stone, first backwards

my son corrects me so I

change to forward get two skips; it’s all

about technique:

only two skips! He aims

three more stones, five skips, six seven, each

sinks halfway across the lake.

I throw a beautiful stone I have been saving;

it is swallowed by the water four feet from shore.

Good try my son shouts.

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Sustained Thought

is as tough as

the fourth grade bully who wanted to

beat me up; I only had glasses and scaredy-cat sense

to bring to a fight, she was ferocious;

I ran; so although I find it

easy enough to spin

a two-liner, maybe a page;

can hum a few bars,

skip a quatrain or two

if you ask me to write a long poem

that spins on and on,

a landscape of a sonnet:

such a marathon is beyond me;

master of anecdote, you could say a

turner of phrase

not up for a ten-rounder, only

a sprinter panting at the next block

bully scorching my ass.

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Pattycake Autumn

and I am yawning all

sleepy inside morning:

this time of day is a creaky coffin

lined with sateen, I say butter.

Rubbing my eyes, struggling to stay

away, theorizing keen to sashay up the hill get the blood

pumped and gallumping swift as a freaky cat;

but the practical?

Just curl up narrow, looking

outward at the falling leaky day,

cocoons dropping from the sky;

wake up I shake myself.

I actually have pink roses I could smell

lively not only and goldenrod and berry bushes

robins like

grass and trees still have green;

world so wakeful it should shame me,

play pattycake but do not blame me.

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