Monday, May 5, 2008

Poem of the Week #17
April 27, 2008

1. Elizabeth

Her arms were thick, her bosom a pillow.
On aching bunions, she stood in the kitchen
tending a pot flavored with oregano;
born a New Yorker of Florentine origin.
She came to Chicago, still a young girl
but clung to some of her New York ways.
She’d say poice and poiple for purse and purple
and sometimes yous guys and oy vey.
In the photo by the Rambler with grandpa
she flashes her smile, shows off her legs.
She was a bit of a ham my Nana
but read her Bible to finish each day.
She sang Ave Maria and Jesus Loves Me
to herself as she made ravioli.

2. Richard

Grandpa saw her on the street car, followed
her home to ask her father for her hand.
She called him a wet back, her answer no
but a father decides these things, the man
is always in charge. She learned to love him.
Five grandkids later—out back in his t-shirt
with his tomatoes—her at the oven
stirring. He’d come in. How they’d fight, then flirt.
Notions of shacking up before marriage
angered her; you don’t try on love, she said.
Life’s not a ride in a fancy carriage.
You cook, clean, pack his lunch, share his bed.
Every morning he warmed prune juice for her;
a sign that his love was regular and sure.

© Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #16
April 20, 2008

One Man’s Tragedy (for J.G.)

In the first weeks after you and I split
I was full of energy, you, depressed.
My prospects rising, yours a deepening pit
of missed assignments, tears, and cigarettes.
One day we met to ride our bikes again
to try at friendship in a new disguise.
Me, oddly oblivious to your pain
you, unable to blame me or despise,
or let me go. I dropped my extra shoes
from the back of the bike and you retraced
our every turn, so kind, you still could choose
to help, idiot that I was. I’d misplaced
more than my shoes, which you returned to me:
my tragedy—averted narrowly.

© Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #15
April 13, 2008

How, Cowardly, I Left You (for J.G.)

You went away one week in May and I
took up house with the boy across the street.
I saw it as my only way to fly,
to free myself for some unknown great feat
whose depth and breadth had not yet been revealed
(but I knew I must go on without you).
Coming home to my news, your fate was sealed
by my small and hollow words, “you’ll get through.”
You had a full class load, the graveyard shift
at Q-mart, an hour drive to save on rent,
then, your cat run over. No store of thrift,
no rebate, could replenish all you’d spent.
You loved me as sweet as a young man would
but I could not keep loving you from should.

© Lisa Vihos

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