—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento
What we have been makes
us what we are.
Henry, an old man, sat on the same
park bench every day. It was next
to a rose garden. He enjoyed the
company of people passing by.
Then one day Henry passed on
and was no longer on the bench.
People still walked by. Nothing
was any different.
Kafka told of a man, Gregor, who
turned into a giant insect because
of a troubled life. Maybe Henry’s
untroubled life had turned him into
the bench he’d sat on…
and he’d become a metaphor of him-
self. The bench should now be called
Henry, because, like Gregor, he’d
become something else.
I attended Joyce Odam’s poetry class for many years, learning iambs and such. Her poetry workshop with the interaction of other poets helped my writing.
Now, disabled by diabetes, I miss going to class. Thanks to Kathy Kieth’s Medusa’s Kitchen and Rattlesnake Review, we poets have a good place for our material.
I am a senior citizen, now retired. I used to travel a lot as a salesman, which has made me a good Storyteller.
—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento
bare midriff, navel too,
tight, see-through tank, nipples exposed.
Teens gawk, play peekaboo—
looking for time
in the lit windows
of the night
shine and compliment
our very presence
to each other
as we preen
and once again discover
our old roles of relevance
as some essential
the nights propel us
swift and slow
reveal the mockery
of every want
with glass between
and glass within
we stroll awhile
darker corner of the year
(First published in Poetry Now, 1999)
Mother is out feeding the birds again.
They have brought their quiet wings
to her noisy hand.
This time she feeds them chips of light
so they can rise, glass-winged,
and cut through night.
Mother has given them seeds and bread
and they have not given back
One time she gave them words and cries
and they left some feathers
and her rueful eyes to follow them.
They will come down for anything.
She has not emptied
the kitchen yet.
She gives them shells of eggs and olive
stones. They are the hungriest
birds she knows.
Even in winter
she gives them food—
ice cubes and rose petals she has saved.
They have yet to thank her or make
a sound, other than their breathing shadow,
grown so large it covers
both her and her little ground.
(First published in ARX, 1970, and in Joyce's
chapbook, Lemon Center for Hot Buttered Roll)
looking at fruit
(pears and peaches and cantaloupe)
in the grocery window
(nectarines and apricots and
the sweet grapes)
the old man’s eyes are as filmy
his hand shake
his pockets have no money
(oranges and tangerines
and the yellow apples)
the old man’s hunger
is on his face
like a hate
words he can almost
(pomegranates, plums, bananas)
(First published in Jeopardy and then in Joyce's
and why not (a poem)
something to clean
something to rust
and something to