ginger andrews | encore

3 12 2007


Poetry Dispatch No.168 | May 26, 2007

Encore for Ginger Andrews, the cleaning lady poet, who provoked a laundry basket full of positive response from the 5 poems that appeared in the previous Poetry Dispatch ( No.167 ) — except for one correspondent (an absolutist in her convictions) who didn’t buy into ‘having-sex-with an-old-man-in-a-hospital-bed-thing’ (“5:01”) — not one damn bit, assigning it to the dustbin of “derivative crap.” Norbert Blei


Everyday Sinners

Blessed be the Pop Tart eaters,
the Mountain Dew drinkers,
the smokers, jokers, and self-centered
whiners married to slovenly mates
and old hippies
who haven’t been stoned since
Black Sabbath concerts in the 70’s,
who hope their children’s faith
is in the new Youth Minister
instead of good old Mom and Dad
who pray for strength and forgiveness
every evening, in their closets, on their knees,
or during pet food commercials with their eyes open,
and their hearts on fire.


How to Write a Poem

It helps if you drink
espresso, take B vitamins,
and believe in God.
Live in a small mill town.
Marry a man with a big heart,
a big truck, a strong back,
and a chainsaw.
Have four children,
one bathroom,
and wood heat.
Chop kindling.
Love rain.
Eat meatloaf.
Call your sisters every day.
Listen, at least once,
to an all-black congregation
singing I’ll Fly Away.
Live by the sea,
Love those who curse you.
Read Ecclesiastes and Billy Collins.
Attend writers’ workshops
if they’re catered.
Vacation only in Arkansas.



After fifteen years of marriage,
you’d think you would know
what thrills me, I say,
as we pass a Barnes & Noble.
If you want me to pretend
that I’m half as jazzed to look
at the new Dodge Dakota
as I am to finger the spines
of new poetry, fine. Lets talk V-6.
versus V-8, let’s talk extended cab,
dual carbs, lift kits, the slotted
versus the honeycombed grill.
Lets talk 4X4, off road,
cruise control, traction,
chrome and color options—
black, white, the new deep blue.
You ask me if I want you
to turn around. I say, No.


Prayer, One

Bless our obsessive-compulsives,
our controlling extremist with ADD,
our manic, our low-grade depressed
who refuse Ritalin, Paxel, Prozac,
and even Saint John’s Wort.
Bless our smokers, drinkers, our hooked-
on-Internet-porn addict. Bless our lazy
gossips, our hyperactive busybody,
our dyslexics, our slow one, our gay
one, and our autistic one. Bless our weary
souls, dysfunctional ways, our great big hearts.
Bless us Lord and keep us on the back pew
where we belong.

from HURRICANE SISTERS, Story Line Press, $14, Ashland Oregon, 2004


ginger andrews | 5 poems

3 12 2007



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.


5:01 AM

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.

Without thinking
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