Monday, February 21, 2011

Poem: Brotherhood of the Front Porch

Slice of the Upper Moreland Township Building from police station steps.

In the dark, you can't see this one step, so I painted it with orange squiggle marks. "Anything to be different," said Karen from my high school class disparagingly. Yes, indeed! Anything to be different and original, I say happily.


ham sandwich in hand
i climbed the stairs
they sat there
and felt the breeze
of a warm summer’s day
so this is where the mumbling
schizophrenic lives
and the “white walker” who
pushes a mower about town.
it was gerry bid me sit,
and pulled out a metal chair
that rocked
sorta like the upholstered glider
we had back on marlindale,

his face grinned like the moon
as we gazed at the backlots
of our town:
the library,
the white township building,
with the clock that was always right,
the parking lot of marshalls,
from the high front porch of
kratcher’s boarding house
the last stop of the down and out.
climbing the stairs
i felt i’d crossed the finish line
and come back home,
to marlindale.
i unwrapped my sandwich i got
at heavenly ham
one taste and
you never went back.
gerry began at
a lively pace
big-eyed thoroughbred out of the starting gate
been a boxer
see these hands,

the size of baseball gloves,
“lethal weapons” he smiled
remembering his glory days for
me and the brothers with
sunken faces
been in jail from what those hands
could do
then asked me to his room

- tho, knowing me,
did i invite myself? –
the reporter in me longed to see
how these men lived
i have a house with a cathedral ceiling
on cowbell
minutes away from the mall
he unbolted the downstairs door
then more locks to
keep the opportunistic
viruses from the stately residence
of fallen men
i was a priestess who would bless them and
their windfall of atrocities
which, like
stinkbugs sneaking inside,
infested these boarders,

holding my honey-baked sandwich i mounted
the back stairs
unwrapped it on
the couch facing the television
and a huge tapestry of his sweet jesus
a hotplate warmed my coffee
and water pipes hissed overhead
gerry was nearly as old as me
hovering around fifty
each a loser in our own way
his wife’s photo fading on the shelf
dead two years now
a nurse who found the cancer herself
they lived in a house in horsham with
sliding glass doors that led to her
would you go out with me? i like
an educated woman, he said
tipping back his head and
pouring the beer down his throat like
a force-fed goose slowly becoming foie de gras

was it love i felt for gerry?
or silly words like
or lust
or the magnificent ‘desire’
no matter,
it was something
especially when
he defended the schizophrenic when i asked
why he mumbled
- he served our country in the second world war-
my kids and i saw him at mcdonalds
his fingertips huge
like lollipops
he never reached over for a kiss
or a feel
the more he drank the madder he got
his killer hands moving like the eighth round
am i scaring you? he seethed
of course not, i said and

ceased to listen
thinking of my house on cowbell
and settling into my gaudy pink armchair
i silently bid his room goodbye
with the picture of his wife
and of sweet jesus who owed him a
gerry’s moon face streaming
with beer breath instead of tears
as he unbolted the door
and i clopped down the backstairs
down those painted front porch stairs like we
had on marlindale
i still watch for his double-cab burgundy truck
in a moment of desire i left a note on
his windshield
tucked neatly under the wiper
and waited weeks
and then more weeks
for the call that never came.


  1. Love the photos, love the concept and love many parts of the poem. I have sent you some comments off-blog.

  2. really appreciate your taking time to comment about this poem. i want it to be good! i made some more cuts. thanks again!