Issue 221, Summer 2017
The ringing telephone sobs to be picked up and when I do
It’s someone I love but don’t see anymore,
Calling from her car to ask
If I remember one of the beautiful places
In the world is
Verdant Valley in My Lady’s Manor
In Maryland horse country which
We drove through together thirty years before
And she was driving through right now.
Mac Griswold, you were one of the most beautiful
Places in the world I ever saw and no doubt still are.
I picture you beautifully calling from your car.
Amalia Karabas, I am at a loss to surpass
The music of your name,
Itself a verdant valley to match your beauty.
The sound deserves a poem and will get one.
Caramba, Karabas! Imagine the joy and the blast—
The most beautiful woman in Queens
Is teaching her eighth-grade class!
Amalia is the curriculum! Karabas is the syllabus!
Seventy years ago, Raymond Sunderland, ten years old,
Emptied the school lunchroom with a foaming,
Thrashing, gnashing grand mal seizure and
Days later at home killed himself,
I don’t know how, ten years old.
The thing he wanted most was attention
Which when he got it made him want to die,
St. Louis, nineteen forty-six, Miss Rossman’s School.
I pledge allegiance to the flag,
But Miss Rossman and Miss Schwaner rule
With a wooden pointer to thwack you with they never use.
Beautiful Mrs. Marshall has big breasts behind her blouse
And wears an FDR pince-nez.
Finally, I am old enough to walk to school,
Walking the back way through the tree-drenched private streets
To the concrete schoolyard where we play during recess.
Reading and ’riting and ’rithmetic
Toss and turn, yearn and burn.
We thrash and gnash—and explode with foam!
And need to go home.
I never knew Mrs. Marshall’s first name was Pauline.
That didn’t stop me from daydreaming about her even when
I was seated at my little desk right beneath her verdant valley
Standing there, who by now is dead, I suppose.