Slippery Elm was kind enough to include a poem of mine in their new, second, issue. This fall I’ve also had poems in Manzanita Press’s Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate and Waverley Writer’s Fresh Hot Bread, My fiction was published in Fault Line, a publication of the San Francisco / Peninsula California Writer’s Club, who also published another short story and named me Writer of the Year, 2014-2015.
The Chinese Woman’s Voice
I get a few whiffs of foreign sawdust
while I fondle an imitation Ming vase,
nearly-opaque with blue splotches.
It appears hurriedly hand-painted
with a lid that doesn’t quite seat.
I’m at an import-store surrounded
by mugs stacked over my head
and dangling tables and baskets.
The sweet-pungent smell drags me not to
fifteenth-century China but
some quick-fingered assembly-line painter.
I feel I can see her now
working furiously at her task.
I probably have things she covets:
money and time to spend with my kids
in a discount East-West shop.
She talks to me, says
It’s okay, it’s okay.
Wine was already spilled on the pink tablecloth,
the two couples’ cheeks already flushed,
but she hadn’t noticed,
so when her husband split a shrimp cocktail with Bill’s wife,
she surprised herself by joining with Bill to split Carpaccio.
The raw beef came laid out like a flower,
deep red petals on bone plate.
Bill spread capers and minced onions wantonly,
and didn’t worry about seeds as he squeezed the lemon.
She could feel his hunger as he gathered the beef,
then, his fork still in his left hand,
took a large red chunk into his mouth;
from next to him she felt she could taste
onionpungent and lemonsour and capersalt—
despite herself she could taste them
merging on his tongue with the cool red flesh;
then in front of God and everybody in the nice restaurant,
in front of their shrimp-cocktail-eating spouses,
lifting her fork over the spilled wine,
she followed Bill’s brazen lead.