Monday, December 06, 2010

A Bench Called Henry

Richard Zimmer

—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

What we have been makes
us what we are.
      —T.S. Eliot

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.

My Bio (by Richard Zimmer):

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.


Thanks, Richard! Rattlesnake Press will be releasing a broadside from Richard Zimmer entitled A Bench Called Henry this Wed., December 8 at 7:30pm at The Book Collector, in addition to celebrating the release of a new book by Ron H. Peat from Xlibris. We're also going to have a seasonal open mic again this year featuring Medusa's Kitchen readers and their poems of the season (winter, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa—whatever "the season" is to you, your own poems or somebody else's), five minutes each. If you'd like to read, please let me know (


—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento

Mall doll
trendy Wendy—
bare midriff, navel too,
tight, see-through tank, nipples exposed.
Teens gawk, play peekaboo—
male call.


—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

window shopping
looking for time
in the lit windows
of the night
our faces
in reflection
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
along night’s
simple avenue
the shops
reveal the mockery
of every want
expensively displayed
with glass between
and glass within
we stroll awhile
then disappear
around the
darker corner of the year

(First published in Poetry Now, 1999)


—Joyce Odam

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
even song.

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
Lemon Center for Hot Buttered Roll)


—Joyce Odam

old man
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
as saliva

(strawberries, blackberries,

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

(honeydew, casaba,
Persian melon)

words he can almost

(pomegranates, plums, bananas)

(First published in
Jeopardy and then in Joyce's 
chapbook, Lemon Center for Hot Buttered Roll)


Today's LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

laundry soap
brillo pads
tooth picks

and why not (a poem)

something to clean
something to rust
and something to

celebrate steak


—Medusa's Kitchen

Our thanks to Burnett and Mimi Miller 
for opening their home to the poetry community
for yet another of the annual SPC Fundraisers
—Photo by Sandy Thomas, Sacramento