6.11 / September 2011

Four Poems

Wax Landscape

Ten years seems long to wait for coffee
with you. Strollers line the front of the café,
evidence of parents. If you are part
of the bustle inside I won’t know.
The window is fogged like encaustic,
the reds, oranges, and pinks must be
t-shirts, yoga pants, tennis shoes,
sprays and wads of hair bob over tables
and occasionally across the room.

Mothers can’t be afraid
of telling others what to do. Write
but don’t expect an answer. Call
but only weekends. Announce
your visits in advance and again
near your time arrival. Your head crowds
with crackers, gurgles, naps and the napless,
shades and odors of diaper goo, viruses,
shots, autism-it’s no wonder you don’t notice

how disobedient I’ve become.

Sometimes When I Drive I Look Straight Ahead

I am not like Fifi and Marie.
We wear pleated skirts, tuck in our blouses,
tie our necks with bright scarves,
but they don’t drive Madison’s long lean hills.
Instead they zig-zag Howell, Olive, and John,
back and forth in somber Chevy tangos.
I take my Caprice
past the corner where men
yell and push each other, so many lean
on brick walls, red-eyed. I am looking for my son.
I am looking in the last place.

Play in Two Parts

Mother       Son
Outside the window       against a wall
next to the café       my mind blanks
a man stumbles       stuck with a body
who looks like me       tired, ragged, dirty
like my son       I’m lost
a runaway       with so many places to go


A woman wrapped in a comforter
squats on her apartment deck
blows smoke, flicks ash

into a dog-bowl. She could sit
in the armchair if it weren’t waterlogged,
barbecue if she didn’t mind

rust from the grill. Crutches lean
on a bike that leans on a crib. The coffee
table stands on its head. Glad bags fill,

with air, sidle up beside her,
brush against her shoulders and,
occasionally, her cheek.

An open book catches the wind in its pages,
blows to the edge of the deck and leaps.

Shira Richman’s poems have previously appeared in Third Coast, Spoon River Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review, Knockout, Cranky, and the Seattle Metro buses, among other places. She served as a poetry editor of Willow Springs for two years and writes weekly for their literary blog, Bark (http://thebarking.com). Her interviews with the following poets have been published or are forthcoming in Willow Springs: Dorianne Laux, Tess Gallagher, Lynn Emanuel, Fady Joudah, Prageeta Sharma, Jake Adam York, and Erin Belieu. She teaches literature and writing at the Colorado School of Mines.
6.11 / September 2011