August 8-14, 2005: Elizabeth Marchitti and Rebecca Lu Kiernan

week of August 8-14, 2005

Elizabeth Marchitti and Rebecca Lu Kiernan

click here for submission guidelines

Elizabeth Marchitti

Bio (auto)

I am a 74 year old grandmother of eight I live in Totowa, New Jersey, and have had poems published in various places:  The Paterson Literary Review, Sensations Magazine, Passager (yes, Passager, as in “passages of life “) The Journal of New Jersey Poets and Without Halos.  I was also a finalist in The Allen Ginsberg Contest several times.

The following work is Copyright © 2005, and owned by Elizabeth Marchitti and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Anniversary of My Death

June 27, 2003 on Long Beach Island

The sun is unbearably hot The humidity presses down Although I need shoes and socks
to walk on hot sand,
the beach is beautiful Sometimes a faint breeze
stirs the flags that mark
the swimming area
The lifeguard’s chair
casts a cool shadow I open my beach chair
to enjoy its shade Low tide, the ocean the calmest
I’ve seen in two weeks Today is the day,
its now or never Tonight we go home
I walk down the bump,
(doorstep into the ocean
carved by breaking waves)
dive into cool, clear water,
swim over smooth swells,
float on my back,
buoyed by salt water Now to swim for shore,
now is the test
Has my courage returned? 
Are my legs as strong
as they were before?
I plan well, catch a wave,
glide over the bump
One year ago today,
I was in surgery One year ago today,
hooked up to intravenous
glucose and morphine,
with a tube down my throat
to aid my collapsed lung,
looking like death,
on my way to recovery,
in spite of my look
I couldn’t see myself I knew I was okay My daughters took the doctor’s word:
surgery a success, I would be fine Only my husband was convinced
I was dying Poor man, he loves me I must have looked awful
Recovery was slow,
but I came back to be me again I walked, I swam, I read, I wrote The surf scared me though,
it always seemed too rough,
even in Central Florida,
especially on Long Beach Island
Till now I am alive.  
Today I swam in the ocean

The Glue That Dripped

When the snow is falling
very fine and slow When it turns to gentle drizzle
and coats everything with ice–
the temperature seventeen,
the wind chill below zero–
I don’t have to go out
I look through windows
at sunlight on snow
on the hills of the cemetery
across the street I see blue sky
and bare branches
of trees freed from ice I don’t need to go out
I turn on the computer,
make my grandson Joshua
a birthday card Can’t find the envelopes Clean out the drawer
in my computer desk–
now neat, still no envelopes
Maybe I’ll sew the missing button
on my blue summer blouse,
put it away at last I need a pearl button,
tidy up the drawer
in my sewing machine–
discover a thread shop
of many colors,
left over from sewing days
Ah! I find a shirt button
the right size,
among many buttons–
born a depression baby,
I save all useful things
Before the drawer’s restored
to unusual neatness,
I stare at its emptiness,
see the glue that dripped,
holding the front panel together My Dad fixed it years ago
Suddenly I miss him.


My husband says
I’m becoming my mother My sister’s husband says,
she’s becoming our mother
Mother’s gone now,
since November of 2002,
two weeks after
her ninety-seventh birthday,
lucid until close to the end
of her long and busy life
I can feel myself
becoming my mother,
non-stop talker
on the phone with daughters
and son, with news
both important and trivial
When my daughters and I
begin to discuss laundry,
we know it’s time to hang up
When I forget
to take my blood pressure pill,
leave behind that envelope
I meant to mail,
go down to the basement
or upstairs
and forget exactly why–

I smack myself
upside the head and exclaim,
“I have a head like a sieve!”
just as Mother used to do
My mother, when asked
if she wanted coffee,
always said, “Just half a cup,”
and didn’t finish that When my sister’s husband
asked her the same question,
she said, “just half a cup,”

Yes, she’s becoming our mother We both remember Mom saying,
when she forgot the turnips
on Thanksgiving Day
“Oh, give me a gun–
I’ll shoot myself!”

Perhaps one day we’ll find
those words pop out
of our mouths
Mother’s sayings handed down
from generation to generation–
on parting, one of us will remark,
(no matter what the weather)
“Oooh! It’s cold out!”

Our way of remembering Mom.

Rebecca Lu Kiernan


Rebecca Lu Kiernan has published in Ms Magazine, Asimov’s Science Fiction, North American Review and numerous books and magazines in the United States and Australia She lives on the Gulf Coast.

The following work is Copyright © 2005, and owned by Rebecca Lu Kiernan and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Jepatio Street, One

He hoards my poems in a pickled pigs’ feet jar
With broken shells in the shapes of angels
And shark teeth Once he made a lantern of fireflies
And braided tiger lilies through my hair,
But that has been erased
He keeps photographs of nude women in his closet
Autographed with best wishes
And common misspellings of his name He stood in line at Hooters for that, I guess
While I was home making his birthday cake,
Washing his flight suits Once I placed my hand on his cheek
And dismantled his terrible mask,
But that has been forgotten
He flies in circles like a rabid bat
Following bar napkin maps scrawled in lipstick Once he found the gingerbread door of home
But was afraid his mother
Would be angry if he touched it
Now, starving blue jays have stopped eating from his hand He sleeps in strange places and contracts lice,
But even they have stopped biting now,
The taste of dying flesh
He keeps my poems in a pickled pigs’ feet jar
Next to souvenir beer steins
From our trips to the moon
And coasters from bars we frequented
In the otherworld,
And by the bed, a bullet-riddled flag
Of the country he betrayed in his sleep
He masturbates into the stars and the stripes
Remembering his cock deep in my throat,
Cursing me for the service I had to perform,
Disqualifying him from the mission of his life.

Jepatio Street, Two

Angel with mangled wings,
A grey dog with a twisted limb,
A giant hand that wouldn’t fit anywhere,
A face inside a face,
Shapes the clouds took
The day I moved out Those final days, I survived in denial,
Hiding behind my lavender, hexagon glasses
And our steel blue sheets
And the memory
Of your unbroken love The day after the hurricane
I saw you on your motorcycle
In a torn black shirt
And fly’s eye glasses
Looking as alone
As a man can be
Who isn’t a ghost,
Zig-zagging our abandoned streets
Like a blind man set free
Of knowing for a moment what it it is
To see,
Or worse,
Being seen.

Jepatio Street, Three
(No Grey Dog)

I take the long way to avoid Jepatio Street
Where we had the terrible accident with our grey dog
That April she crashed through the window
And went flying, bloody and mangled
In slow motion
I can’t recall any words between us There must have been something, don’t you agree?

We pulled the car over at A.J ‘s Restaurant
And ran to our dying love We should have put her to sleep, my friend,
Had we any dignity God will punish us
For dragging her around,
Making waiters set plates for her,
Having Walter pour her a Guinness at McGuire’s in Destin
Her slow death pulled knots inside us It was just so hard to let go Sometimes I remember
Toting her severed leg around on ice,
That hopeful look in her cobalt irises
That she might live to love another week,
That we might snap our magic fingers
And erase that bump in the road.

Jepatio Street, Four

I admit, I may have sold your secrets to the Russians
And showed that photo of you with your dick
Sticking out of your flight suit
At parties,
Downloaded all your emails the day before I left,
Let a friend give you the nick-name, “Shit-for-Brains”,
Deep-throated seven guys before you,
And maybe once, charged you for sex
But if you’ll come back,
I’ll forget how you told me at dinner
The sweet, funny things Girlfriend-on-the-Side
Said that day,
How you barked you couldn’t wait to be rid of me
Right before you ate my pussy in the parking lot
Of Indian Lake Bistro Come back, I’ll make them call you S.F.B for short,
I’ll take that picture off the internet
And remove what’s left of your voodoo doll
From the fish tank I’ll forgive the V.D and the false identity and even the lice
Maybe I’ll make you another cake
And rub your feet just right
And deep-throat you, ’cause
Baby, I never did that for anybody else.

Jepatio Street, Five
When We Are Both Cats

Burn the photographs, erase the music, rip up the cards,
Dismantle the valentine collage,
Change the sheets, fill the empty drawers, replace the locks,
Scatter my poems along the docks Remove my hand from your cheek in dreams Who has the right to touch you like that?

Scour the house with bleach until the scent is gone
Of my naked flesh wet for hours against yours,
Prowl the bars for a willing partner
Who will stay the night but never ask your name Who has the right to speak to you like that?

Ride your Harley without a helmet down Jepatio Street Remember when it was the road home?
Who is living now in our old house?
Bomb it from your invisible plane Who has the right to walk where we have walked?

Replace me with a cheap imitation Pluck out her eyes if they see through your heart Who has the nerve to look at you like that?

I am two streets away, but may never be found Hire a detective, release the hounds Give me the code and watch it burn How could I ever return?
Do you still have the light to touch me like that?

Does a world exist
Where you will not find me again
When we are both cats
Or bats, or yaks?
Who has the light to love like that?

Jepatio Street, Six
(The Way Home)

Your street is on the way to our house If he is not speaking, I close my eyes
And pretend I’m coming home
Sometimes in the moon glow of beach walks
I hold this other hand
And remember the taste and smell of you
In our winterset bed
And once, maybe twice in the street I look into these sienna irises
And see your steel blue flecks inside
And when he spreads me open
And kisses me
I remember the last time you did that
You couldn’t make me come
And how he does it every single time
And the look on his face if he knew
It’s only because I think of you.

Jepatio Street, Seven

In that world
That is the cobalt of your irises,
The temperature of your secret tears
In our old winterset bed,
The grey of the silence that blossomed between us
When you were careening Area 51
And I was on the sea with my old love,
Our street still stands,
Though our house has fallen away
Every month is December,
The smell of bomber jacket leather,
Douglas fir trees dressed in
Christmas hollyhock,
Crisp, cotton whiff of our sheets whipping down,
Our saliva and sweat mingled
Before the poison trick of April
Skipping through, all honeysuckle and tiger lily,
Razor in its fist
For a butter-fingered amputation,
Oh, the terrified angels
Still assigned to watch over us both.

Jepatio Street, Eight

Sometimes I wake and I know you are stirring too
And I think of the strength of your arms,
The intoxicant of your kiss,
The perfection of our fingers intertwined,
The day you asked,
“How did I get so lucky to have you share
My life and my bed?”
And I said, “Angels watching over us both “

Don’t think I don’t know
When I think of you like this,
A light passes through you,
You feel my hand again on your cheek,
My heart beating against your heart
Through the blur of alcohol and anonymous fucks,
You reach for my beautiful ghost.

Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter: