Passing It Down
by PAUL LOJESKI
Near the end
my father rented
an old Cape
on Cape Cod.
When I visited,
bees were flying
around the living
room. He didn’t
seem to mind,
but back then he
had a wild look
in his eyes and a bottle
always close by.
It was hot in his
of a house,
the large windows
to the gardens
in ripe summer
all that buzzing
and those thick,
I watched him pace
his arms like he
I knew he was crazy
then, so what
did that portend for me?
Long after spreading
in the sea,
I finally found out
but, man, my arms
are getting tired.
Paul Lojeski was born and raised in Lakewood, Ohio, where he received his formal education. He attended Oberlin College. His poetry has appeared in ABZ, Barrow Street, Counterpunch and is forthcoming in Paumanok II, an anthology of Long Island poetry and photography. He lives with his wife and daughter in Port Jefferson, NY.
by PRIYA KEEFE
The shock of unemployment becomes a pathology in its own right. –Robert Farrar Capon
I punch in:
We’re looking for an energetic, creative…
peon with a great sense of humor.
You should have a solid understanding….
Must have excellent
Must be familiar with
must – must
must love the Man (qualified applicants can call him Daddy)
Must love exhaust fumes
Ability to leap tall buildings and bend
over a +
Demonstrated ability to do much with little
Master’s degree preferred
We are happy to employ happy employees
Please wow us.
This role will:
Collaborate Work Independently
Sit Stand Sit
and other duties as determined
by someone making more money than you
Job is contract
Job is part time
Job requires evening and weekend hours
Job requires 2 hours a day in traffic
Job requires experience
This is an entry level job
No phone calls
We’ll keep you in mind
We’ll keep you
We’ll keep you on tenterhooks
The future is the future
Past experiences must be past
We are sorry to be so sorry
Priya Keefe has had work published on a Dublin lamppost, Seattle buses, on the internet, and on paper. Look for her work in The Nervous Breakdown and the Seattle City Council website.
The Soap Buffalo
by CHARLES ORLOSKI
1959, 3rd-Grade, Roosevelt School, Taylor Borough –
best friend Ronnie Casey thought I had “it made,”
’52 Pontiac, lamp-post, encyclopedias, TV, patio, a hot-water shower.
Beyond that, my father had a Teamster truck-driving job,
he didn’t drink all that much, an only child,
I had toy soldiers and cap-guns to play with; every night
mother taught me to bless myself, get on knees, pray
“Bozie watch over me, keep me away from danger and sickness.”
Except for TV commercials heralding Red atomic attacks,
there wasn’t much danger in Taylor Borough,
just a shot fired into a mother’s chest by an angry teenage daughter,
a runaway cow from a Newton-Ransom farm, infected tonsils,
Mrs. Dubee’s homework assignments, that was all –
everybody appreciated used motor oil applications upon dirt roads,
no dust-in-eyes when lumber trucks came rolling by,
kids played kick-the-can, rode bicycle, when oil dried-up.
Perhaps Bozie couldn’t protect enough?
As if arithmetic and sentence conjugation weren’t enough pain,
Mrs. Dubee’s weekend homework assignment intruded –
Ron Casey and I, tasked with carving a buffalo out of soap;
I had Ivory soap bars aplenty, they floated upon water,
Casey’s “old lady” had knack for knives, and Friday night,
after supper, it was off to Ronnie’s house,
somehow a bison-statue must appear, soap better not fall apart.
My distinct knock upon Casey’s door,
“Yo, Ron-nie!” 9-children cramped inside
a house built by Continental Coal Mine Company. 1.
Entered kitchen, Ron’s father “Joe” covered with coal-soot,
head to toe, he loaded coal-cars day to day,
only eyes distinguished him from Amos and Andy.
Mrs. Edna Casey heated water upon coal stove, she poured
pots of water into Joe’s tin-tub, later the Casey boys
would dump unclean water outdoors, into gutter –
the Casey kitchen smelled different than my Pine Sol world.
So distinctly, with care, Edna Casey carved bars of soap,
I’d almost see a tear rise in a buffalo eye, and then CRACK –
she’d utter curse-words, exclaim, “We almost had the son-of-a-bitch.”
Fourth bar of Ivory, I knew a trip to Pat Langan’s Store was inevitable.
With short knife splices, careful chips, soap petals piled upon tabletop,
Mrs. Casey braided her hair, donned war paint, chanted,
“wu, wu, wu, wooh… wu, wu, wu, wooh,” carving persisted,
Mr. Casey’s out of tub, clean, a white-man once again,
it’s hunting season 2012, Soap Buffalo on all fours, life given,
a romp across Garden State Parkway, National Guard on patrol,
skin made soap, Sandy returned to boardwalk, knocked-out pier lights,
a Frankenstorm link to al-Qaeda?
Mrs. Dubee’s 6′ under, Coal is Lantern-King, chips down for an only child,
Bozie’s Sun-Dial cut Bible in two, fait accompli, buffalo nickels not worth shit,
and Ron Casey’s hair is clean, still red.
Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at ccdjOrlov@aol.com.
Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)
To submit to Poets’ Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, the titles being submitted, and your website url or e-mail address (if you’d like this to appear with your work). Also indicate whether or not your poems have been previously published and where. For translations, include poem in original language and documentation of granted reprint/translation rights. Attach up to 5 poems and a short bio, written in 3rd person, as a single Word Document (.doc or .rtf attachments only; no .docx – use “Save As” to change docx or odt files to “.doc”). Expect a response within one month (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions).
Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology.
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