Spring 2009

Table of Contents - Vol. V, No. 1


Poetry     Interview     Translations     Fiction     Book Reviews

Bob Bradshaw


Fannie Kisses Wu Chen

For twenty years I've carried Hung's photo
from flat to flat, placing it
carefully atop the fireplace

affectionately, cautiously
as if it were a thousand year old
Chinese family heirloom.

For weeks Wu Chen has taken me to restaurants.
We talk of Hong Kong,
of how we miss the breakfasts
of congee and deep-fried devils
sold by hawkers.

"My pregnant daughter is embarrassed,"
I confess, "by my advice.
She just rolls her eyes."

Wu Chen nods. "We expect our children
to be like kittens
left at our doorstep," he says. "Grateful. But
they have their own stubborn lives."

In my apartment Wu Chen
tries to kiss me for the first time. I hesitate.

"What is wrong?" he asks.
I sense my deceased husband's disapproval.

I drop my scarf over Hung's picture
and turn back to Wu Chen.

That is when

we kiss.


Your Mother

It didn't matter
if you valued a corner of a sofa
and a nap more than your homework.
Or if your room had more grungy friends
listening to music than a mosh pit.

She cooked your meals even as you grumbled
that the soups were too hot.

She held cool rags to your forehead,
sponged your cheeks as you sighed
and wheezed like a grounded steamer.

Often when you were broke
she left money
in the dirty pockets of your unwashed jeans,
and waited for you to discover your good luck.

She was there to offer you your old room
as you were thrown out of apartments
by landlords with hearts as small as nickels.

She believed you were one job away
from success. Yet you continued to lose jobs
the way you lost quarters at arcades.

When she said you should go back to college
you said she was unreasonable.

You were right. She always



Aunt Viola

She paid five bucks a month to have a star
named after her.
She would point to the sky's crush of stars
and say there it is.

This is the same Viola whose creditors
took away her furniture every quarter
as if her house were a stage set.

Viola, who used to pay me
to pull Spanish moss from her oaks
as she lay in a lounge chair,
the bachelors in the apartment complex
eyeing her through binoculars.

Viola, whose husband came home one night
and threw her lover naked
into the street.
who reprimanded her husband
for not trusting her, demanding an apology.

Viola, who I learned today
died several years ago. Viola,
who I suddenly miss. I squint up
at the night sky. I wonder how many times, Viola,

your star has been renamed? It's missing,
as if you didn't keep up the payments.

Like you, reclaimed by your creditors.


© Bob Bradshaw



Poetry     Interview     Translations     Fiction     Book Reviews

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