Poems

Wings

WINGS

The urge to copy birds
began at three
when I leaped
from the flaking banister
of our apartment building
first floor
arms extended
no cape needed
I was so sure I could fly.

I was a child
with a small plot of green
in the asphalt of apartments
where a hundred families lived
that little spot my sanctuary.
Covered in winter by unspoiled snow
angels appeared, wings and gown
outstretched in perfect patterns.

oak kitchen table

WINTER NIGHTS

I hear him opening drawers
cupboards, the icebox
creep from my bed
sit beside him
feeling big
in the solid oak chair
at the kitchen table
with its flowered oilcloth cover
and blue-rimmed bowls
filled with broken graham crackers
creamy milk.

We don’t talk, my father and I
content together
at this ungodly hour
of three in the morning.
Outside dark sky
and part of a constellation
glimpsed through the window.
Which one doesn’t matter.
I know that he will be
as he has always been
my North Star.

Bringing Home

GLAMOUR  REDUX
We went for a drink at the Hotel Bel Air
up winding Stone Canyon Road. Forty years
since we’d been there and still the same lush gardens
and swans floating in water lighted like a movie set.
In the English bar men wore tuxedos, women chiffon
that clung to their knees. Forty years ago I was
seventeen and fell in love with glamour: manicured lawns
and silks and furs in Beverly Hills, Grauman’s Chinese
sculpted in footprints of the stars, bright glow on a hill
that spelled out HOLLYWOOD in giant white letters.
They turned its lights out during the war.

Forty years since we’d been in Bel Air and only the names
had changed. Julia Roberts instead of Grace Kelly.
The cast of “The Practice” in a photo-op under the arbor.
In that long-ago time I lived on the fringe of a sequined city
and never thought to lift up its sparkling skirt. Sitting rapt
on the aisle at the neighborhood theatre, I could forget about
my mother’s drinking, my father out of a job. One time
I walked up a red carpet on the arm of a producer’s son,
once I got Gary Cooper’s autograph. Later I wrote copy
for his movie High Noon at the local radio station.
I don’t remember when he died.

from The Fringes of Hollywood
published by Jacaranda Press, 2002

CLEAVAGE

In the UCLA gym Shelley Winters came late to the game,
Vittorio Gassman, husband of the moment, handling
her up the bleachers to one cleancut guy after
another past all the freshfaced bobbysoxers
in paste pearls, cardigans buttoned down
the back, long skirts, while we envied
those great legs, high heels, diamonds
on her earlobes, fingers too, and
even her grey velveteen suit,
cut to the navel, had what
looked to us like a six-
carat diamond
button.

 

from The Fringes of Hollywood
published by Jacaranda Press,2002

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