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"Noh Mask”
by
Shelby Graham

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Lisa Simon

The Housecleaner and the Widower

Lying down among the weaver’s yarns
in her studio, her core, next to her loom,

fabric, buttons, and spools, I held him.
In my twenties, I didn’t know age. He was old

and missed her. He spoke of her tenderly:
her dust kittens, how they made easy meals

so she could work at home. He took pleasure
in her art, and I knew he could feel pleasure

as I unbuttoned his wool sweater,
lifted his shirt over his head, the tiny scruff

of silver hair, the skin paper thin, smooth.
For many years now, he confided,

he couldn’t function as a man.
The house, earth tones, worn wood floors.

Merino, Icelandic, Mohair, I held him.
The warp and weft, the background

and the shine, I held him.
Something obsidian. He didn’t cry.

No kisses. We stroked each other.
I let the heat of my body warm his.

He pulled fingers through my hair,
the knots in my hair.  By now,

were all the strands of her hair gone?

Milk in My Cup

Marilyn really hurt me.
The sequins and the way one bead
dripped off each nipple in Some Like It Hot.
Her skin was barely sheathed with sheer.
And my flushed face and neck
showed that I was sheer,
a first grader in a flowered nightgown,
hot and confused, bedtime milk in my cup.
Everyone saw, I was sure, my arousal,
and confusion over the air thick with longing.
Something charged came in waves
over my father, my brothers,
some force I’d never known
as we watched her sing
Happy Birthday Mr. President,
with a low breathy voice
that slid up to a girlish squeak.

Her breasts.
I wanted her breasts.
They wiggled when she breathed.
I became gangly in my limbs
and stumbled into the ottoman.
How could I understand then
why it would take a million years
for me to feel pretty again?
As preteens, my friend and I
partly broke the spell
with parody, in towels after a shower,
as we dropped them in mock surprise
that James Bond or my sister’s boyfriend
walked in on us.

But Gloria Steinem saved us
as she broke her way
onscreen toward the Aqua Velva man,
shoved Joey Heatherton aside,
slapped the aftershave
on the man in the commercial
so hard the screen went black.

"Milk in My Cup" was first published in Porter Gulch Review

Lisa Simon is a writer, teacher, and singer whose love of language was nurtured in her hometown of Birmingham. Her poems have appeared in phren-Z, Quarry West, In Celebration of the Muse 30th Anniversary Anthology, and as a first prize winner in Porter Gulch Review. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA in English from U.C. Berkeley and is a recipient of a Squaw Valley scholarship and an Arts Council Santa Cruz grant. Lisa taught “Poetry and Song, a Natural Connection” for NextStage Performing Arts and for CA Poets in the Schools. She now teaches poetry and fiction to writers of all ages at Cabrillo College. Her forthcoming book, Bright in Each Body, is to be published by Blue Bone Books.

In Celebration of the Muse
Jean Walton Wolff
Patrice Vecchione
Dena Taylor
Lisa Simon
Dee Roe
Joanna Martin
Cindy Knoebel
Rosie King
Helene Simkin Jara
Kate Hitt
Clifford Henderson
Carolyn Brigit Flynn
Sigrid Erro
Margaret Brose
Carol Brendsel
Barbara Bloom

Featured Artist
Shelby Graham

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