Month: September 2017

I Remember My Gramma’s–a poem

As I was wading through a box of really old writing to find something for a project I’m working on, I found this poem. It’s from 1997 or 1998, at the height of my Kerouac/Beat Generation poetry period when all I did was read the Beats, drink coffee, and write poetry (can’t say my life has changed much: now, instead of re-reading Kerouac’s “Maggie Cassidy” I re-read the Brontes and out-of-print Fantasy, drink coffee, and write fiction). I cannot image writing  a poem like this again– I moved into a phase where I went from the Beats to the Romantics, and that’s where I’ve stuck for the past fifteen years.

This poem is about my Grandma Bieker, made of vignettes of my memories interwoven with my childhood inner life . . . It’s clunky and ungainly, reaching for but never quite grasping a lyric Whitmanesque quality. But. .  . But I found parts of it amusing enough to want to share.



I remember my Gramma’s–

tiny apartment for a tiny woman.

The smell of perfume lingering from

room to room–a pink mist

clinging to her bombshell helmet

angelic hair–twirled into curls,

and I’d kneel and watch, playing with curlers,

casings and bobbypins–making soldiers, aliens,

Cowboys and Indians–

And the Indian in

the upstairs apartment

who’d scalp noisy young boys

all but sending me into a faint

when he knocked at the door

only to ask for a little sugar–

The old Scottish woman two buildings over

no more than a slip

stretched thin on time

waiting for the wind  to blow her away (Soon

she was gone–

To Death or Mist and Fog or Angelic Wings)



Bricks of Government cheese

too hard to use for a house’s foundation–

Kettles of John Setti

Pots of Chicken and dumplings

seasoned with salt and a dash

of spit strung out from lips to spoon

to splash in the broth–

The cars that passed in twilight

counted and strung like pearls

across college-ruled paper

(the most counted 71 in a day)–


Curled up teddy-bear soft

on the belly of the tattered fold-out

orange tweed couch–

periwinkle sheets smelling

of the basement laundry room–

the cuckoo’s soft lullaby

the tick-tock of the clock

easing the release of dreams

Across the street the

junkyard dog howled warnings

wandering between rust-chewed relics

of old jalopys– scaring off spectral

burglars who threatened to hot-wire

these apparitional autos.


The apricot tree out front its stones

gathered greedily by me and my cousin–

bloodthirsty pirates stashing our stolen

pit doubloons–

buried and mapped on earmarked

bloodscrawled business stationary–

Never to be seen again–

Secrets drowned by Davey Jones’s locker. . . .