As Fox Chase gears up for its second annual Poets on the Porch event at Ryerss Museum and Library, six of the seven poets slated to read at the event have shared some of their work with us. You can see them perform other works at Ryerss on Aug. 20 at Ryerss at 1 p.m.
Another Shirley Temple By Diane Sahms-Guarnieri
A curvy path, down steep steps that lead to a sidewalk. “Don’t step on the cracks.” I tug on his tattooed arm my blue name never washing off. His Popeye the Sailor Man’s grin animated eyes squint. He turns a doorknob opening to barroom black as a jelly bean. Neon letters glow orange, red. “A Shirley Temple and a Ballantine.” “Like valentine?” I ask. He winks.
One, two buckle my shoes lift off of a sticky floor and I sail to the top of a red stool bobbing like the cherry in my sweet drink.
A jukebox weeps. I spin round and round to a 45, to a voice blooming: Red Roses for a Blue Lady skip to A Tisket a Tasket find a dartboard, shuffleboard but nobody plays here.
So I feed a nickel to a machine and lifting a metal tongue cashews slide down a chute into my palm.
I watch him empty glass after glass of beer talking about work, work in the mill all night, night while I sleep weaving dreams.
Raising a little glass he drinks down brown stuff like the lemon and honey he spoons down my throat when I am sick, insists I wear raw onions in each sock at bedtime to pull the fever out of me through my feet.
After another little glass of brown poured from a bottle with roses on it he downs another beer without stopping, burping: “Exxcuusse me.”
I laugh. Red-faced men with whiskers laugh. Patting my back he orders me another Shirley Temple.
My glass sweats. The ice cubes rattle. I jump down from my stool lead him out of the dark as if we were leaving the movies my blue eyes sting tears from to much burning light.
We turn the corner past the red roses that he planted up three steps through the doors and onto the sofa where he stops flopping like Popeye after Brutus knocks him out.
I reach for his hand.
First Published in Many Mountains Moving and The Fox Chase Review