Sample Work

On a Theme by William Stafford

If I could be like Wallace Stevens,
I’d fold my clothes into the bureau 
drawer instead of living
from a suitcase. I’d hang up my long
coat in the closet and really move

I’d cook food in my room on a hot
plate, then open up the window for
the neighbors. With my tongue
pursed like a stick, I’d push my ice
cream all the way down to the end,
so that even the last bite contained
both cone and cream.

This is What People Do

They move to Mukilteo and throw
pots or play on the senior soccer league.
They set up a weight room and deliver cellular
phones. They get proverbially married and
have hope for children, saying this generation
will be different. They watch Little House on
the Prairie and cry when Mary goes blind.
They get laid off from the oil company
and go back to art school. They have five
or six kids and wait while their wife has
schizophrenic episodes where she thinks
the oldest child is God. They retire to places
called Happy Acres and Leisure World.
They get hired by the Honolulu Fire Department
and moonlight as a Congressman. They buy 
a house with a pool on Mount Washington,
then get a divorce. They have a brother with
pancreatic cancer. They recycle the garbage for
the entire building. They visit ground zero in
New York. They buy a $10,000 Italian 
bed and furnish the flat in Sinatra’s orange.
They let their wife work in a bank and stay
home playing Scrabble and pretending to
write grants for Planned Parenthood. They
drive through snow storms in Palmdale
and install plants at the MGM in Las Vegas.
They live down the hall and do not answer 
their phone. They are married for 18 years,
then take up with an old high school sweetheart
they found on the internet who stalks them.
They get restraining orders. They bail their
Japanese friends out of jail for DUIs and hear
about how they were tossed around in the cell.
They go to Little Tokyo and sleep in their car.
They rent a love nest in downtown Los Angeles
and walk to work. They go to the Queen Mary 
once a month and run the ham radio room. 
They turn 80 and have a surprise party thrown 
for them at the Airport Marriott. They adopt 
three cats and name them TS Eliot, Sylvia Plath 
and Bartleby the Scrivener. They go to London 
for New Year’s. They do not answer the phone 
unless it rings twice, times eight. Their mailbox 
is not emptied. They wait until the last 
minute and show up at the Hollywood Bowl,
getting box seats for Tony Bennett, then go back 
stage and meet Pete Samprass. They like 
salami sandwiches, dry. They drink Korbel 
and smoke Nat Sherman’s. They wish they lived 
in New York City and did not have to drive. 
They get belligerent in a pub called Dead Poets.
They wait in line for jazz at Smoke. They like Miles 
Davis and not just because an ex-husband did. 
They travel or they don’t. Everyone is always so happy
when they are finally alone. They do the Friday dance
in the kitchen while Sublime plays on the Bose stereo.
They call the police on the white cube truck parked 
over night, every night in the parking lot in front of their

Sexing it Slow with Tom Jones and Margo

I was eight, going on seventy.
We ripped our way through Mickey Spillane
With helpless women tied to chairs
Blindfolded on the covers of paperbacks.
Then the T-Birds, roller-ball, those chicks knew
How to elbow and rough it up. We ate coffee
ice cream out of cantaloupes, then lazed about
On the love seat. Tom Jones was up next, he
Even sounds like he is sweaty when he sings.
My grandmother gasped when he tossed
Over the handkerchief to a girl 
In the audience. Last, we went for Lawrence Welk,
A quiet ending to our torrid girls blight out.
All summer, we played it that way. Margo sipping
High balls and fingering the mini Pall Malls 
She got downtown for free. Sexing it slow 
Is easy in the shadows
Of the LBC in the 1970’s. It was where I learned


The woman thought she would be good,
making sure he washed,

rescuing black stockings, wood pile
scraps. Finding theatre tickets

and collecting parking stubs.
She thought she would be good

at using his soap. Remembering 
not to wear perfume and waking 

up to call home. In the hotel,
hiding while the hot water ran,

her heart compact as plywood.
She thought she would be good

at belonging. The bulk of her time 
a two-by -four dove-tailed into a corner,

getting the best he had to offer.
She thought she had a talent for being aloof. 

On him, she made few demands. 
When he was away, she imagined 

his heart open, fearless 
hands holding a piece of wood steady 

while a diamond-point blade cut through. 

© 2021 millicent borges accardi