near the palatal ridge
bangs off the teeth
like a sledge
lays down the law
a tough judge
stops traffic with a badge
at a bridge
a curmudgeon who sins
with hot fudge
leaves a chocolate smudge
on the fridge
collects buckets of sludge
for edge, for grudge
What Place Is This?
A colleague offers a lift home after work.
Though I donít like her much, I accept.
Others take seats in her white mini-van.
We donít talk. Itís a warm afternoon,
sunlight starting to slant, the transition
from right now to later than I thought.
After a short drive, the van stops. I canít
take you all the way. I recognize a street
sign, hop out, content. Strolling beneath
trees, I swing my purse, a red wicker basket
with a hinged top. Couples eat at sidewalk
cafes. Chrysanthemums curve in clay pots.
A shaded park above a beach: anywhere
youíve ever sat with friends, or held hands,
or watched the sun sink, the stars come out.
I see children playing. Waves lap and slip.
Though happy, I notice Iíve lost my purse Ė
the one I took to my grandmotherís funeral -
and Iím not where I thought. This might be
New York? I pat a pocket, locate my keys,
need a place with a phone, to make a call,
find a taxi or bus. A nearby hoagie shop,
only one customer. The apron-wrapped
woman has a kind face. I watch her spread
mayo, scatter lettuce shreds, so crisply green
I could weep. Finished, she smiles. Youíre next.
What would you like? I say, Iíve lost my purse
and my way. Is this Manhattan? Could I use
your phone? I need to get home to Swarthmore,
Pennsylvania. I think Ė where on Earth is that?