General Poetry Page
with Suzanne Robinson
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--The Swimming Pool--
You are the girl
I would have looked up to
in high school
Vintage tees and broomstick
skirts smell of the man who sold
them, the one that was with you
old enough to be your father
and maybe recommended
like good weed
a fix that keeps on giving
Your friend dragged you from
the swimming pool last night
where you--like Echo--unwound
gauze layers like peeling away
their pain when their eyes lick
your skin their charred fingers
raised poisons kept you afloat
a face-down Ophelia with hair
in seaweed tendrils
She would feel the heavy
carelessness of your
confidence that someone would
love you enough
to pull you out of it
It's that dancing that keeps your
ears clear of the symphonies
of phonies you're not trying to
find your center
warm chests you press to
it's not so different to close
your eyes under the lights
and feel the love
while they stick another dollar
bill in your g-string
anymore than it was to
free fall into that endless
ocean blue the chlorinated
hue of forgetting
there was a little girl
with dreams of fairy princes
whose white horses
took a detour in middle school
when they realized it was girls
who'd get on their knees
for a hell of a lot less than
the feel of those carpeted
the education they sought
came from you
a fearlessness that was
a comfort to the rest of us
trying so hard to playact at
what we thought we had to be
our feelings fragile as loose
feathers the pluck and bleed
and all our hollowed-out insides
that growing up too fast demanded
you were a phoenix
and we prayed to be like you
even as we called you
behind your back
our green tongues powdered with
we never saw the empty rooms
you went home to
or the used needles in the kitchen sink
or your panties mixed in with stranger's
or the diary you kept that said whether
or not today you want to live
all we saw were the rainbows the scarves
the beaded curtain framing your face
the wild abandon of your laugh
we ignored the urgency
with which you threw yourself
into that swimming pool.
This isn't for the boy who's gonna make it
Although I write about him too often
To fill that empty heart space with daffodil-scented air
when he's gone
This is for the one I forgot
A passing point of refracted light
in the peripheral
I read a poem today about a boy who stole things
and I remembered that night you called me and
offered to lift from Kmart anything I wanted.
Watches perfume...you laundry listed all the things
Like a child with Crayola murals on the white living
room walls you wanted so badly to impress me
You showed up at the family reunion I hated to go to
the one where I felt as out of place as you cause why
acknowledge the moonshiners and molesters their
cans of cheap American beer and dirty mesh trucker
caps who threw your Pap away like graying meat? By
the creek you picked me up wedding threshold style
like I weighed nothing despite that you were slimmer
than me the energy beneath your skin like fire
brimming in iron chambers with no chimney raging to
And I was snow white fifteen. And I was afraid of you.
I couldn't get you off the phone and wrote my dad a
note for once relishing those harsh tones reserved to
make me quake
I said "say I have to go. Now!" It was the only cruelty I
knew more subtle than honesty Of why--at fifteen--
animal wound open
I couldn't save myself let alone you
I was glad
when you stopped calling.
I feel like years later my mom said you'd been arrested
for drugs or assault or something of the like
the devil in me whispered to the angel in me
"see: I told you so"
the devil in me said "you could never have saved him.
He would've eaten your fear like sweet plum colored
"Like you," the light in me asks?
Maybe it wasn't the trembling or the cowering he
Maybe it was the snow white girl who took walks by
and kissed all her stuffed animals at night
In a pink bedroom with clean sheets
and a mother who didn't drink or scream
and a father not as badly broken beyond repair
in the picket fence house with non shuttered windows
That he found sweet.
About the Ads you see for Kelly Writers House and Poem Talk: Two years ago I took a free class on Coursera called Modern Poetry from the University of Pennsylvania's Al Filries. Since then, I have been a Community TA. I credit Al and ModPo with recreating my need to publish again. When we first started, I thought it would look better with a few advertisements, so I asked Al if I could run a couple of free ads. He said yes.
You drove me back home after lust-fueled nights on the basement stair,
hands still lingering with the hope of igniting –
A deep seeded passion.
He was there, waiting for me, on the couch.
There they were, accusatory eyes, I could make out – just barely; He wore them well.
Soft light from the nearby lamp made humble love to dingy shades,
I waited for the questions – the ones in which I planned to evade.
It was only hours ago that stale beer had furnished the promise of “bad” decisions, but…
Now, those accusatory eyes held mine, and, there were no allegations that trickled from his pursed lips.
Instead, an outstretched arm – his – gestured down the hall, toward the bathroom;
I suppose that I can wash away the shame.
Massaro is an English teacher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated from University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in English Literature and from Duquesne University with her M.S.Ed.
She only recently started the foray into creative writing.
We are proud to debut her written word on our pages!
Her photography can be seen in 805 Lit & Art Journal and Ink In Thirds, a literary magazine.