Miles to Go
On the shores of Winnepasaukee
in the nearly empty Belmont Mall,
I watched a man with no shoes or sandals
buy pizza near Santa’s throne. He stood
with the pizza rolled and red sauce running
down his chin, saying, you want presents
I’ll give you presents. It was March, mud season,
the reindeer and tinsel sagging, old.
Two girls in matching hoodies laughed
behind their hands, and twisted rolls of shiny
licorice into knotted necklace bands. I thought
of another holiday arriving soon
with a rather frightening rabbit
seated on the throne—like Jimmy Stewart’s
Pooka, or my own, that shining night.
Then I saw the man had blue eyes
and his hair was turning white—like a grand
patriarch rabbit, with his pink and twitching nose.
I finished off my french-fries, bought some
licorice and went home
in the dark
my little clock shines
its green into all my nights
it wakes me up too
many mornings that are gray
it rings in my ears
like it has something to say
and your radio announces
the news even on mornings
I don’t sleep at home
but you, little flashlight
sit idly on my bureau
waiting for a power failure
your sight so reassuring
I assume you are reliable
but if memory serves me
right called to action
you glimmer dimly a moment
and go out—batteries
in the drawer
of another bureau another home
All the best journals
are ashamed of me.
They know I’m a trollop for poems.
My profligacy displeases them.
They’re embarrassed to take me home.
I cull them from my shelf
to donate to the library yard sale.
Nobody buys them.
I can’t even give them away.
They’re too glossy to use as tinder.
They’re left for the recycle bin.
I’ve got to admit I didn’t read them
since they didn’t let me in.
Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent books are TOXIC ENVIRONMENT (Boston Poet Press) and TWO BIRDS IN FLAME (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant. firstname.lastname@example.org