(More poetry from David Thompson, Nancy A. Henry, Lyn Lifshin, Beth Kinderman, Jeffrey Shafer, Patricia Young Smith, Kenneth Pobo, Richard C. Doughman III, and Penny Shreve in the print version of The White Crow. Please inquire; availability limited.
Somebody A Great Husband
He hasn't had a date, much less gotten laid,
in the nine years since his wife left him
for the professor she always wanted,
so now he fixes us fancy dinners
because we'll listen to him complain.
Tonight, it's sautéed chicken breasts
in a wine sauce with grapes, which tastes
a lot better than the fast food we usually eat,
but as he's telling us he doesn't want
to die alone in pee-stained briefs,
I notice my girlfriend's barely touched
her food, finishing instead her third glass
of German wine. He asks, What should I do?
and she replies, I don't know. I think
you'd make somebody a great husband,
motioning with her empty glass for more.
I start to push the grapes off to the side
of my plate, wondering who the hell
that somebody might be, and how anyone
could think grapes in gravy was a good idea.
- David Thompson
To The Girl On The CB Radio
I heard her tinny voice,
hissing and crackling
between pulses of static
and the tide of dead air,
the debris of the citizens' band,
traveling faster than vehicles
up and down the Interstate,
by my radio at work.
Do you read me,
I heard her calling.
I heard the voices of the men
who answered her.
I heard the pause
and the lie
when they asked her age.
When she arranged to meet them,
I wanted to shout,
Don't do it,
leave them as a voice in your hand,
no matter what happens
you are going to get hurt.
But of course she could not hear me.
I left her like that,
alone in the McDonald's parking lot,
calling again, Do you read me.
I want to walk up to her and say,
do not cry,
some highways never bring you
faces to go with the names,
only men who will leave you
listening to the sound of emptiness.
Do you read me,
you will call
again and again,
though the one you seek
will be standing next to you
as he slips out of your wavelength,
your lives carrying you
into futures of crossed wires
and things left unsaid,
out of time,
out of range.
- Beth Kinderman
Please Pay the Cashier
When I was a little girl I'd stand on my head
And watch the sky roll beneath my feet,
the ground above me,
the clouds maybe I could jump on.
Now I sit all day taking money
From people in suits who want to park.
For years I've watched as the small piece
Of tea-brown sky I could see from the window
Grew smaller, and smaller, until one day
It vanished behind the new bank building.
Now that I'm surrounded by concrete and glass,
I've decided to eat everything I can get my hands on:
Ding Dongs, ice cream, fried pork chops, black beans
And rice, spaghetti, corn chips, pickles and cheese, tripe,
Hard-boiled eggs, frozen pizzas by the dozen; I eat
To grow larger, to swell, to expand,
Until one day my thighs will press against the walls
Of the kiosk, my belly pushing on the window,
My breasts seeping into the register;
And when I only have room
To lift a last candy bar to my mouth
And swallow, the sound
Of squeaking plastic will echo through level one,
then a cracking,
then a bursting apart—
A midday explosion
That releases my flesh from the box,
And me from it—from above I will watch
As it spreads into the street,
Into the city, wherever the hell
It wants to go is all right by me.
I will rise and watch it become a speck,
And I too will become a speck,
Two specks watching each other,
Then just one, then nothing.
Or at least something that feels as good
As the absence of this world must.
- Marc Pietrzykowski
Driving Through Minnesota
They are lane drifters in this place.
I am the ghost car
as they cross
gold highway stripes
and force me
onto the soft shoulder.
If I had a car
weighed down with
twenty-two winters of rust
I would become a torpedo
their tin cans.
Rust would rain down
And I would smile
and show all my teeth.
- Ellen Dworsky
I looked away from the too-pink lipstick
the little-girl grin
(this woman I took to be
at least my age)
swinging her hips
in a hula hoop
nipples clearly obvious,
at a fifth grade picnic,
then nodded shaken
in the meeting house
at the guide dog
the blind husband
his useful deformed hands.
- Kelley Jean White
Last updated 01.26.2003