Featured Poem 11/12/01:


At the neighborhood Thanksgiving block party
Military man and his Medieval wife from 4200 Pleasant Lane
ate their turkey, potato, and angel food cake
like wrestlers. He had four glasses of wine, and on the fifth offer
shuffled his hand over the plastic rim like a casino dealer: no, he said,
I have to drive tonight; I do my reserves tomorrow.
Medieval drawled about the long commute,
her lips thin as pita. It's a bitch keeping awake, she said.

Bitch? Military cocked her a trigger glance that had Marge, Mary
and Betsy Wing on the end trying hard to hold back the snickers.
They even took their paper napkins to their mouths and dabbed at nothing,
darting glances down to their laps like knitters checking thread.

You start to know the radio better than your husband, she said, louder,
her cheeks by now Riunite red. Everyone wanted to laugh,
but the gravy seemed too thick. Or was it too much baking soda
in the cake? Military felt a burp rise in his cheeks, hoolahooped
his lips to stop it from coming out.
It's time to drive home, he said, his voice thick as a house painter's first strokes.
then he did the rounds: took everyone's hands into his as if they were rifles, shook them
hard while she floated at his side like a balloon tied to a wrist,
her face a bit slurred. He put his stronger arm around her,
and they marched for the door, his hand stroking her lower back
like he was wiping crumbs off a table. At the threshold
they stared at each other with a wink. Her eyes were ice cubes melting in trays.

© 2000 Francine Conley

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