you’ll never be able to manage alone –
although there is a moment when I feel too keen,
and contemplate letting the other half trail on the floor.
but then I curtsey down and take it up –
step towards you in our do-si-do
raising my arms to meet yours
we start smiling as the corners meet
beneath our fingertips and another second passes
holding hands beneath the linen.
then you decide to take up the burden
and I must step back to end the dance.
Late afternoon, a mild October day,
the auction of my family’s property
is winding down. I sit in the side yard
and watch my mother’s upright piano
being hauled up the basement stairs outside.
I’m the last one left so I must sell it,
plus the two-hundred acres around it.
I threw up this morning before breakfast,
twice more during the six hour auction.
I was fine. My stomach knew otherwise.
For twenty-one years I called this my home.
A man tells me he’s bought the radio,
our old 1930s Philco console.
He and his wife will restore it, use it.
He says they’ll take good care of it for me.
Every December I sat before it,
listened to Billy the Brownie stories,
The Jack Benny Show, Joe Louis boxing,
Fibber McGee and Molly, my earpiece
to the outside world. I thank this kind man.
My stomach eases. Old things to new folks.
To Write Like a Man
Joan Wiese Johannes
I need a dick
that I can whip out
every time I want to prove
I can piss longer and farther
than manly poets do.
And I need testosterone
so I can smack words
pull them up by their vowels,
and disembowel them
with a broken bottle.
Don’t tell me that men
are in touch
with their feminine side,
are taking care of babies,
and arranging roses.
Just shut up and hand me
your hoppiest beer,
a shot of Jack Daniels,
a pool cue,
for the end?
Driving in Wisconsin
We follow roads that can’t decide
between pavement and gravel,
cracked like lips and curved like palms.
These roads go until
amber husks curl over them.
Caves of corn silk wait for us.
The sky matches the tie
you wore to your father’s funeral.