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Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006 01:02 am

People's Poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

lakepoem #9

it’s so humid here
I have to toast
each sheet of paper before
the heater
or it will jam the printer
even though
it’s ninety degrees I have
an idea
the oven has a pilot light
maybe if I
put paper on a cookie sheet
the pilot
will be sufficient to dry it
out given time
too bad more problems
aren’t solved
as easily p.s. all night with
the pilot
and it doesn’t work now
what maybe
keep the whole printer in
the oven but
be sure to notice when
someone bakes
brownies I once swam with
my high school
graduation watch on and
put it in the oven
to dry out hours later my
brother brought in
a tray whisked off the napkin
to reveal a
charred object bowed and
pronounced
filet of bulova

© Jacqueline Jackson 2006

I first learned to use public transportation when I was living at a Salvation Army shelter in Chicago. A counselor handed me a pair of tokens and a narrow slip of paper with clear, concise instructions: “Get the 151 Sheridan bus at Wilson Avenue. . . .” My first daughter was 6 months old. I was two months pregnant with my second. If I’d had equally clear instructions about love, I never would have been living at the Salvation Army — but nobody gets good instructions on love. The metaphors are always mixed and the messages untranslatable. Poet Rodd Whelpley takes on takes on one of those much-quoted, misleading clichés in his poem “Whoever Said Love.” — Carol Manley, guest editor

Whoever Said Love

Whoever said love was like the bus — that you could catch the next — forgot how
to ride more than one at a time, or the train, or the jet
forgot to remind you that life — your life —
goes everywhere at once,
that your heart is packed for Punjab, Tokyo, and Trenton, N.J.
that your baggage lands in every port
that at every carousel you’re dealt hands of flushes, straights, and full-house claim checks;
forgot to tell you that your ticket is stamped with a sigh and a snigger
that all conductors are myopic to the destination on your stub;
forgot to say that transfers come in changing wafts of Old Spice and Cinnabar
that the Titanic, the shuttle, and the Spirit of St. Louis take the same token
that you share the back of every cab with the quick and the dead.

Rodd Whelpley is a Springfield writer. His mystery novel Capital Murder is a tribute to the mystery novels of the late David Everson.

Send submissions to Jacqueline Jackson Presents People’s Poetry to poetry@illinoistimes.com or to Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705.

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