Some months feel like years, but I feel like I just had my annual physical when I open an email to schedule the next one, / I have early memories of a 45 from a 1959 girl group that I can’t place the name of, playing while I danced to the beat when I was three, / and of seeing carpeting ripped from our apartment floor just before we moved when I was four, not knowing when that carpeting was installed, / and of toys I played with when I was five, whatever happened to them, / and of time markers, / Halley’s Comet and solar eclipses, / the Voyager mission reaching Jupiter in ‘79, Saturn in ‘81, Uranus in ‘86, Neptune in ‘89, / in ’77, I was wondering where I would be in ‘89, / I’m in a future already lived, / piercing through the years of madness, 1968, 1984, 2001, / and my son graduates college next month, not long after I was driving him around in a car seat, tossing back stories I made up about this or that, / but now I’m sixty, living life in a bad novel and what might end up being a great movie, unable to see much beyond next month, looking back at yesterday as if it were weeks ago, / didn’t I just get a new furnace last year?

(Published in LIPS #50, Spring 2019)

Boil Until Tasteless

Lettuce was always Iceberg. Cookbooks told our parents that the hearts were the best part. They were bitter.

Cheese came in two varieties, yellow and white, pre-sliced and wrapped in clear plastic.

Bread was almost always white; seeded rye was used for special occasions. Whole wheat was cutting edge.

Milk had two teaspoons of strawberry or chocolate powder stirred in to make it drinkable.

Cereal had more sugar than cookies.

Chinese food was salty and spiceless Cantonese. We never made it to that Szechuan place in midtown.

Ice cream had three flavors – vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Then butter pecan was invented.

Vanilla ice cream, dumped into Coca-Cola, fizzed and erupted brown foam.

Soda and seltzer in thick glass bottles were delivered by some guy in a uniform. Dad put the empties outside a week later.

Seltzer had big and fast bubbles.

Sandwich fish was tuna fish. Salmon and sardines came much later.

Tuna fish and egg salad were made with large globs of mayonnaise. The result was flavored mayo. Sometimes diced onion was added for texture.

Borscht had sour cream, sliced egg, and boiled potatoes. Instead of borscht, really old people ate schav, which was green and had a sour odor.

TV dinners were fried chicken in aluminum trays. The apple cobbler never cooked right.

We survived.

— Published in The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow #9 (2016)