Poetry Dispatch No.167 | May 22, 2007
5 by Ginger Andrews
What a Homeless Man Wants
I want new front teeth.
A white T-shirt.
A pair of black Levis.
Some snakeskin boots.
Oh and the reading glasses I lost last summer
when I fell l slam into the river’ tryin’ to fish
and drink and take a leak at the same time.
And maybe a woman like you.
There is the ache and shame
of the dream of the man
old enough to be your father,
caressing the back of your neck,
then the length of your spine
all the way down, the lower
stomach pressure, fullness,
a need to pee
no matter the clock’s red glow, that flash
of God, of lightning on headstones,
having sex in a hospital bed?
Thoughts of that first drag
of a cigarette, the sorrow
that mixes death and sex. Oh—
that movie last night—that woman
telling the man whose true love
is trapped on some island with Harrison Ford,
presumed dead, that Everybody know you have sex
when somebody dies. Of course,
the man’s fiancée isn’t really dead. Anyway
Harrison is not old enough to be your father,
doesn’t look anything like the prune-skinned creep
who turned you on last night.
I refuse to come right out and tell you
that I feel old, unattractive, unappreciated,
and flat-out taken advantage of.
Instead, I ask, Do you ever feel
really, really selfish? And you say,
All the time.
Getting Ready to be Poor
My sister laughs, says she can eat Ramen noodles
for lunch and dinner, instead of just lunch.
It’s no big deal. She’s been poor before.
No washing whites in hot.
No deodorant, floss, Q-tips, Kotex or Midol.
One-ply toilet paper. No Kleenex. No cotton balls.
No new shoes. No espresso. No Red Bull, or Taco Bell.
No vacation, Lord knows, and no cash for the collection plate.
But, she says, I can take on more cleaning jobs. I can do that.
Old Cleaning Ladies
We find ourselves
reaching for paper towels
in public restrooms,
buffing little sections of sink, tile, toilet or wall.
It’s not a matter
of caring about dirt
or germs, it’s not
a matter of pride.
we look under counters
for a toilet brush, cleansers—Comet, Windex,
409, Fantastik, anything
to make something
Ginger Andrews is a cleaning lady from North Bend, Oregon. She has published widely. These poems are from her recent book, HURRICANE SISTERS, Story Line Press, $14